Riff Playbooks: Archspire | Human Murmuration


The "Riff Playbooks" column is designed to make you a better player. By gleaning some insight into the technique, composition, and execution of these fine riffs by fine SH artists, you are bound to make headway in your own playing. We cordially invite you to steal a page from our books in order to expand your own diabolical playbook of musical wizardry (not literally though, the books are expensive to create).

In his first ever Riff Playbook, Dean Lamb, lead guitarist of Archspire, and arguably Canada’s largest exporter of notes played on guitar, runs us through the very wild solo section of “Human Murmuration” from the bands second LP Relentless Mutation. In said solo, Dean rips through a cacophony of grim arpeggios and scale runs, utilizing sweeping, tapping, hybrid picking, and just about anything else you could imagine a top tier death metal guitarist pulling out of their hat. If you’re not familiar with Dean and Archspire, then the video below is about to impress and possibly terrify you. If you are familiar, you know you’re about to get a fantastic and relentless barrage of well chosen and well executed notes, that could come from none other than this particular death metal machine. Either way, enjoy. 

Dean had the following to say about this particular passage:

"This section is one of those "why did I write this" kinda things. I came up with it early in the writing process for the album, and at the time I was pushing myself to become better and cleaner at economy picking, so it just naturally developed from exercises I was working through. It actually felt a little too similar to something Tosin Abasi would do at the time, so I added in some less "Animal as Leaders" style phrasing while we were in the studio recording. The tapping uses left hand hammers first, which is sometimes tricky to coordinate. We might be more used to the EVH style tapping, which starts primarily on the right hand note, but using the left hand first gives it a different feel while ascending through the arpeggios.

The riffing near the end is heavy on the 8th string, and this song is is drop E tuning, which can be difficult to maintain constant pitch with such a low range. Luckily, the difference between a few cents when you're playing E1 is surprisingly hard to distinguish, especially in a live scenario. Also there's a little sweepy guy at the end, he's a tricky guy so watch out ;)

This is the most serious I've been in a long time about guitar, so in closing I want to say that this solo is probably compensating for some part of my body that is unfortunately tiny. By that, of course, I mean my little baby hands.
...you do your best with what you're given."

If you’re feeling brave, grab the free tabs for this section right here, and attempt this true feat of dexterity for yourself. And if you want to take the first step towards getting on this ridiculous level, check out “Relentless Mutation - The Complete Guitar Transcription” Right here