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Why you should try...prog-metal

Monday 21st November 2022 News

prog metal

The final week of the Toontrack Metal Meltdown is here! And we dip into the world of prog.

Say the word “prog” and you could mean Can, Pink Floyd, Mars Volta, Plini, Periphery, Opeth, Haken, Mastodon, Yes, Dream Theater, Gojira and many more. It means a lot of things to a lot of people, even when you zone in on metal.

Damir Puh made a track with his interpretation, and Nili Brosh laid down a solo.

So this is our take on prog-metal.

What is prog-metal?

Prog metal, like a lot of things, arguably started with the Beatles. They may have begun as a pop group, but as they got further into the sixties and substances, the weirdness came out. Bands like Yes and Pink Floyd then took this mantra and made it their own.

The metal variant comes in many shapes and sizes, but essentially is still that concept of taking the unusual and making it work. Odd metres, long conceptual songs and non-standard song structures.

Whether it comes in the shape of the more psychedelic Mastodon, or the ultra-modern highly-polished and technically astounding Animals as Leaders, prog-metal is all about pushing the boundaries. Things don’t have to be complex, but it sure seems to help.

Why will I like it?

It’s a challenge! Technical riffs, huge solos and some of the best players that have walked the planet.

Are there any JTC releases to help me with the style?

Connor Kaminski’s Prog Composition Masterclass gives you the ins and outs of how to write your own prog anthem. Not a bad thing to learn.

Al Joseph’s Prog Workout breaks down every aspect of the technical side of soloing within the prog context. It’s also a fantastic resource for staying in shape no matter what style of player you are.

And as featured in our playlist below, Learn to Play: Open by Olly Steele is just an absolute tune full of prog takeaways. Think djent Everlong.

Which guitarists should I check out?

Rich Henshall
One half of Haken’s incredible guitar duo, Rich is a player who can tap the night away. Whether with the band or on his own, his use of open strings is to die for and his penchant for fusion sounds gives him a unique sound.

John Petrucci
Being the guitarist of the prog metal giant, Dream Theater, John Petrucci took the early workings of James Hetfield, Steve Morse, and Alex Lifeson, and completely flipped them on their head. Becoming known for ridiculously tight alternate picking, and his songwriting chops, John is one of the GOATs.

Tosin Abasi
A player out on his own. His selective picking, thumping, and mind-boggling grasp of odd time has helped him cement a place in the halls of guitar legends. As the founder of Animals as Leaders, he has pushed the boundaries of prog-metal, and what is possible on a guitar.

Can I get a playlist?

Yep! We have tried to cover a swathe of prog-metal but do your best to find more!

Before you go…

Check out Nili Brosh’s take on the Toontrack Metal Meltdown Prog-Metal track

Why you should try...extreme-metal

Monday 14th November 2022 News

why try extereme metal

First we brought you some brooding post-metal then some good old thrash. But now it’s time to get extreme.

The Metal Meltdown sees us give away a new track each week, and this one's for the headbangers. Thanks to Toontrack’s metal library, Damir Puh was able to make a pummelling track befitting the term “extreme”. Richard Henshall then made it his own and the result is wonderful. You can watch it below.

But first, let’s answer that burning question…

What is extreme-metal?

The very idea of genres does sometimes get people’s knickers in a twist. You know, “stop defining music as one thing” and all that. Luckily for them, this week’s genre throws a net over many different styles.

Within all those styles expect music that is rarely fit for radio. It’s aggressive, dark, and sometimes dissonant. Melody? Not all that important. This is very much an umbrella term for all those Marmite metal genres. It’s a love or hate thing.

When looking for inspiration for the track, we mainly touched on industrial, death, tech and black metal. (There’s a playlist below for more digging)

Why will I like it?

It’s a bit mad! Everything is turned up to 11 and if you’re in a bad mood, it’s normally a great outlet.

Are there any JTC releases to help me with the style?

Morgan Reid’s JTC debut is without a doubt the heaviest we have gone to date. The drums are straight from the Cattle Decapitation playbook and really we had no other choice but to call it Relentless Shred. Pure metal madness.

Next, we have Paul Wardingham’s 20 Epic Metal Licks. The backings are intense, the playing is full throttle and there are a ton of technical lessons to dig into.

Finally, James Norbert Ivanyi adds a dash of prog to proceedings with Dark Progressive Riffs. Not extreme in style, but in note choice, this will give you plenty to play with.

Which guitarists should I check out?

Devin Townsend
An icon of the alternative. As a founding member of Strapping Young Lad, he created cacophonous tracks built around a huge “wall of sound” production. His style isn’t overly shreddy, but he can shred. There are moments of brutality and vocals to match surprising melodies. The whole extreme nine yards.

Vogg
Wacław “Vogg” Kiełtyka is the main songwriter behind death-metal icons Decapitated. His playing features a honed and perfected blend of technicality, brutality and accuracy. The riffs are enormous, catchy, and powerful, and the lead work is blindingly fast. His fans come in the shape of Olly Steele, Ola Englund and to quote Misha Mansoor “Goddamn Vogg is just a force of nature!”

Frederick Thordenal
There are few bands that can be credited with inventing a genre. Meshuggah were part of the birth of djent, but they go beyond just that. One driving force of that band is Frederick Thordenal. A scientist of odd rhythms and for anyone who really likes the “wild” side of music, his solo album/side project “Sol Niger Within” really is a worthwhile exploration.

Can I get a playlist?

You can! As we said from the outset, there is a lot of ground to cover with extreme metal, so see this as a springboard!

Before you go…

Check out Richard Henshall’s take on the Toontrack Metal Meltdown Extreme-Metal track

Why you should try...thrash-metal

Tuesday 8th November 2022 Blogroll

why try thrash metal

It’s week two of the Metal Meltdown. Four weeks of free metal tracks, all produced with the help of Toontrack. Each week sees us tap into a different style of metal, and now it’s time for thrash.

It’s a genre that has seen some of the best songwriters and players call it their home and arguably paved the way for the majority of modern metal bands.

But while it may have a dedicated following, for some it may all be new, so let’s dig into the what’s what of thrash metal.

What is thrash?

Fast tempos, metal grooves and lead guitar where pretty much anything goes.

In the early underground days of thrash metal, bands such as Metallica, Exodus and Slayer looked to the UK and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and combined it with their more American styles. Speed metal met Queen, punk met Sabbath and the rest is history.

As the ‘big four’ of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth started selling out huge tours and releasing best-selling albums, thrash was out in the open and here to stay.

Why will I like it?

It's super fast, and fun to play, and when soloing, there are hardly any rules to follow, never mind ones to break. Chromatics are the name of the game and wah and whammy is pretty much mandatory.

Are there any JTC releases to help me with the style?

Speed is the name of the game so Igor Paspalj’s Speed Picking Masterclass is a must.

Though based in a world of prog and with a more melodic bent, Connor Kaminski’s Whammy Masterclass is a great starting point before you go big on the dive bombs.

The guitarist of Megadeth is a pretty good place to look too. Kiko Loureiro's Supersonic Sessions might not be all out thrash, but it’s unsurprisingly fast and that’s exactly what we're after.

Which guitarists should I check out?

James Hetfield
Papa Het! If you’ve written ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘One’, ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Dyers Eve’ and [insert another Metallica banger from the endless list of bangers here] you probably know a thing or two about songwriting. His down-picking abilities are also revered and he can also play a solo or two from time to time as well. The old round thrash mega-package.

Dave Mustaine
Replaced by the equally mighty Kirk Hammet as lead guitarist in Metallica, way back in 1983. He then went on to form Megadeth and forged a name for himself as a player of incredible technical skill and flair.

Jeff Hanneman
The founding member of Slayer and the writer behind ‘Raining Blood’, a classic of any style of metal, let alone thrash. Going toe to toe with the menacing Kerry King, and with an ability to play at blistering tempos, he was just a pillar of thrash that all players should know about.

Can I get a playlist?

YES! Here’s some thrash, new and old. As always, make sure you do your own research.

Before you go…

Check out Igor Paspalj’s take on the Toontrack Metal Meltdown Thrash track

Why you should try...post-metal

Monday 31st October 2022 Blogroll

why you should try post metal

Every year, Toontrack celebrates metal with its annual Metal Month, and we’re joining in. This means any genre is on the cards and as we like things loud, we thought we’d give post-metal its JTC debut.

In the Metal Meltdown we’re giving away four free metal tracks. Each track has been written and produced by Damir Puh using Toontrack products, with a different metal genre covered each week. Our guest judges give it their spin, and then you’re invited to do the same.

And as we like things loud, we’re starting with post-metal…

What is post-metal?

As is often the case with metal genres, “post-metal” mainly has its roots in rock. And in this case “post-rock” with bands like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor creating an ambience that metalheads then pushed to the limit.

Post-metal is dark, loud, and noisy. Where other metal genres build songs around riffs, solos and quite often insane levels of technicality, post-metal looks to create an atmosphere.

Long songs, that build to a crescendo, and take influences from shoegaze, doom and many other abstract places. Verse? Chorus? Pffft.

Why will I like it?

There are huge guitar riffs, massive drums to hook onto and with long songs the norm, plenty of space to explore ideas.

Are there any JTC releases to help me with the style?

This really is a first for us in terms of style! But in post-metal, rhythm is an essential element making Al Joseph’s School of Rhythm a great shout.

The key concepts from Olly Steele’s RIFFS Masterclass can also be slowed down and morphed for the style.

And with post-metal being more about the song than technical showmanship, Connor Kaminski’s Prog Composition Masterclass is a great way to learn how to get writing.

Which guitarists should I check out?

Mike Sullivan
The Russian Circles founder is the king of the loop pedal. The band is known for huge soundscapes and to hear them live is to be deafened. When you realise that this wall of noise comes from a three-piece, with Sullivan at the helm, then you really do have to take your hat off to him and them.

Kurt Ballou
Founding member and guitarist of Converge. A hardcore/mathcore/post-hardcore band. So a bit left field, but when you discover songs such as 'Wretched World' and 'The Dusk In Us', you realise how his big-tone talents are just as at home with the sludgy goodness of post-metal as they are with the ultra-intense punk-inspired riffs. He’s also produced for post-metal bands such as Russian Circles, ISIS, Sumac, Cave In and many more.

Aaron Turner
A discography as long as a baritone guitar’s neck. A founder of post-metal giants ISIS, and a member of Sumac, Old Man Gloom and many more. If you like riffs, Aaron Turner is a solid bet.

Can I get a playlist?

You can! This is a good starting point for the genre but not the end. As with any style, there is plenty of different takes, so get digging!

Before you go…

Check out Claudio Pietronik with his take on the Toontrack Metal Meltdown Post-Metal track

We're hiring! Post Production Video Editor

Tuesday 26th July 2022 News

jtc guitar hiring
Please note, this vacancy is UK only.

We are seeking a guitar enthusiast for the role of Post Production Video Editor to join our team at JTC - a fast-growing online guitar-based education, production and digital download company.

Your role is primarily focussed on producing high quality motion graphics promo content using video content from some of the world's greatest guitarists to promote their new content releases. You will be tasked to create video, stills and animation for both externally facing social media channels and throughout the JTC website. You will also be producing internal video content and assisting video production sessions to support the growth of our in-house content at our North London studio and support corporate and internal video requests.

Key Skills and Experience: 

  • A good knowledge and interest in guitar playing is essential
  • Minimum of four years professional production experience
  • A strong grasp of the whole production process with the ability to manage a project from its inception through to delivery
  • Strong video editing and still graphics skills, and experience in making high-quality visual promos
  • A deeply creative mind, ready to adapt whilst working with a varied (and mainly static) range of key artwork/video assets and make them work in high-quality motion graphics
  • The ability to create narrative-led social media content and motion graphics
  • A deep understanding and at least 4 years experience of using the full suite of Adobe Creative Cloud software including After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.
  • Experience in camerawork: handling and using recording/filming equipment, including best lighting practices, mics etc
  • Experience filming in a range of internal and external environments with the ability to adapt rapidly within these environments
  • Good awareness of production safety and risk mitigation
  • Ability to work with/for numerous internal clients and to prioritise numerous concurrent projects
  • Ability to manage the production process of projects from start to finish
  • Ability to structure and create video stories/narrative
  • Strong attention to detail and time management

Person Specification:

The candidate must relish the prospect of being part of a small hard-working team with high standards. You should be friendly, flexible and responsive to the numerous project requests, some of which will run concurrently. You must be instrumental in coming up with creative ideas, have fresh solutions to digital content requests and lead idea generation on production requests.

You need to be reliable and a good listener. You will need to manage yourself and work remotely. You must have a keen eye for detail and a strong interest in guitars.

Working Hours and Location: 

Normal working hours are Monday to Friday with a minimum of 40 hours a week, flexible between 8:00 – 17:00 and you will work primarily from home. Occasional evening or weekend work may also be required.

How to Apply: 

Please submit your most recent showreel or portfolio, which demonstrates your ability to produce:

• Filmed content

• Motion graphic content, ideally in the form of a promotional video using live footage (see below for example)

• Still image graphics

For immediate consideration please send the above and your CV to

jonny@jtcguitar.com

Please note, this vacancy is UK only.

 

Get to Know: Julian Eggenhofer

Tuesday 26th April 2022 News

julian eggenhofer

JTC’s bread and butter is electric guitar and shred, but if the playing is great, it simply doesn’t matter what or who it is.

A scroll on Instagram, a few messages between the team and it was decided; we had to work with Julian Eggenhofer.

So who is JTC’s 100th artist? And what makes his gypsy jazz brain tick?

Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into playing?

I started playing when I was about 15 years old. I’m 32 now, so it’s been a while. I found an old, dusty guitar from my mother back then and started playing things like “Eye Of The Tiger”, just using one string. I remember being terribly afraid of a string breaking. Had no clue how to change it nor did I know how to tune it so for almost a year I played totally out of tune and on such old strings.

After that time a very good friend of mine taught me a lot. He had already played for a few years and we both loved heavy metal music. So not long after we sat together and played Iron Maiden stuff on nylon guitars. Until today we still play together in different bands, it’s more about jazz instead of metal but we’ve got such a strong musical connection and it’s always something special to play with him. His Name is Julian Wohlmuth by the way!

What was the inspiration behind Rogue Mode?

Actually there is no great story behind that one. I wrote it during the first quarantine in 2020 when I was bored as fuck. A lot of the patterns I used for the theme, I often use during improvisations so It didn’t take much time to set everything together. Just needed some chords and the rest was pretty simple. In terms of harmony and the rhythmical structure of the melody, it is a pretty simple song. In fact it’s just about speed and muscle memory.

Do you have a favourite part of the song?

Phu, good question! Maybe the bridge, cause it actually got some melody? Haha.

You’ve been putting on singles, but will we ever see a full album?

Yes definitely! At first my plan was to wait with all the releases until I have a full album but nowadays it’s more about portioning your content over time so I decided to release a few singles and the full album will come afterwards.

What first attracted you to the style of gypsy jazz?

Actually my good friend Julian Wohlmuth asked me, I think it was summer 2012 or so, to play a gig with him. Once again he was already into gypsy jazz for a few years back then. I agreed and I learned a repertoire of about twenty tunes. My knowledge of music theory was pretty poor at the time, so I just played the pentatonic scale up and down. After that gig I really fell in love with the music. It’s like, once you are infected, you won’t ever stop again. For me this music is so honest and pure, mostly because it’s acoustic but there are no effects and stuff, it’s just you and your instrument. Love that.

What tips do you have for people approaching it for the first time?

Check my Class at JTC! Haha! No, jokes aside. I think the most important part at the beginning is to listen to the music as much as possible. Find a player or a band you really like and listen to it. Try to sing along so you get a feel for the rhythm, the phrasing and the general vibe of the music. Then try to copy the things you really like. I’ve never been a huge fan of transcribing whole solos or something. Pick out small phrases or licks and really try to understand what is going on theoretically. Then try to adapt these licks or ideas to other chord types for example, so you can use them whenever you’re feeling like so.

Learning this music has a great tradition in watching other players and using your ears so another tip would be, try to avoid using tabs or something and try to find other players to learn from.

Do you explore other styles of guitar?

I’ve always been a fan of metal and rock music but unfortunately I’m not really good at playing it. From time to time I give it a try but it’s more like a hobby.

Besides that I love to play blues, funk and some fusion stuff on my Strat cause as I’m sure you all know, there are times we all need these fancy sound pedals and all that stuff.

How does it feel to be the 100th artist on the JTC roster?

It’s just amazing to be part of this great community. I can not tell how happy I was when Dan reached out to me. JTC is such an amazing platform with such exceptional players, to be the 100th artist is a real honour. Working with you guys is so easy and enjoyable, I’m looking forward to many more releases.

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