Skip to main content

music & audio

Mastering Metal Songwriting

Lesson 10 of 28

The Right Hook

Eyal Levi

Mastering Metal Songwriting

Eyal Levi

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

10. The Right Hook

Lesson Info

The Right Hook

one thing that really sets you guys apart from basically, uh, not all but a lot of bands that I guess are in your I know it's a scene or genre, but I don't know that's entirely appropriate, but or whatever it is that you guys are really, really hooked based. And that's obviously not an accident, because it's song after song after song after song. So obviously you had to work on it. Andi, that's not That's not something that just happens cause, uh, did everyone right, good hooks, because that's something that everyone wants to be good at. So I feel like, um, there might not be like a specific music goal formula for it. Like, uh, the theoretical formula, like this cord into this does Millie note. But I think from our talking, there's definitely like characteristics that if you think about them and maybe edit your writing or just get them in your mind, uh, you can subconsciously start creating more of those. And one of the main things that I think is that it it, like, uh, hook is not nece...

ssarily the chorus of noes. It's just the part that separates itself from everything else. um, did you ever when you were first starting to write, uh, think that courses and hooks were the same thing? Like a lot of bands do? Sure. I mean, yeah, in the easiest way to take your mind out of thinking that way is if you really dive into what makes a metal song catchy. In most cases, you know, if you're working with like, you have a Slayer or whatever it's it's not like he's going into some melodic territory during the chorus or whatever. So the the hook is just whatever you find yourself humming along to later, you know that and you know, it could be that. Or it could be, you know, psychosocial, which again isn't a melodic part. But it is a repeating part of it. It's a part that has some prominence. It's not even the chorus right second, So yeah, yeah, I think, uh, a Sfar, a slayer is concerned. We play it a midi version of it earlier. But the middle section from Angel of Death is a perfect example. It's a bridge, but that's like the part that everybody everybody remembers on. And I think that the main thing about it is that it's so different from everything else. But I guess fear theory wives air Like formally speaking, there's probably is probably a way to actually differentiate rhythmically. We'll be different. No choice wise. If everything else is, uh, say a bunch of eighth knows back to back to back that a dedicated like the hook will be longer drawn or have more space between them. There's just something that sets it apart off or Elsie Brain won't even recognize that is going on. One thing that I think is interesting about metal, uh, especially metal that doesn't have clean vocals is that it could still be justice hookey. It just needs to be done in the music and that Thea, the instrumental parts kind of take the space of the vocal like and some of these songs that we listed, like worse I'm lives or whatever the main guitar line is is really melodic. Um, you could I mean, maybe would make like the best vocal line because it's played on guitar, but it's ah, it's singable. Yeah, it's memorable. For sure they're up there. It's like, Yeah, that was someone. It's gonna reference in Pantera Song. They're really going to go damn band and around, uh, before they're gonna say I'm broken, you know, or whatever every single Pantera song, very much anything. It's like, harder to find songs that don't have great hooks than it. Then it is Teoh point out songs with hooks by them. So another thing that I think is, uh do you think maybe this is a place where we can put aside the usual thing of ignore what your close friends and family are saying, like maybe like this, if you come up with a great hook or something, like you can actually see that they develop a genuine reaction to it rather than, um, the usual like Oh, yeah. I mean, that sounds really good. Where do you still I think that like, it hooks Not even gonna cut through that? Well, I mean, I look at it like this if they don't like the song, or you're gonna listen to them and get to influenced by that. And if the answer is no, you're not gonna listen them. If they don't like the song, and why would you listen to them That they do like the song kind of invalidates itself, so I don't ever really pay attention to people that close to me. I think that they have a bias, which is that either they want you to fail or they want you to succeed. Leans heavily based on your relationship with them. And it's just not a good way to gauge whether or not your music's effective. I think specifications. Total strangers. Now you think until I agree, Yeah, I mean, the perfect example is like, You see, these people on American Idol have been told by everyone that they know that they're like the best thing in the world. They go up and it's very clear they're not on. I just think that's like on one hand, it's just super depressing that, like all these people, have either lied to them like right to their face or they just, you know, they don't know. They don't have the discretion to understand what a good singer is or what it isn't. So it's Yeah, I would totally agree. I think in most cases, or at least hopefully those people are all gonna be rooting for you. So it's kind of Ah um unfair or a no Ah, It's just now. It's kind of a gray area. Things like, you know, I know you're not rooting for you. Then it's it's like still weird, because why would you get discouraged if someone doesn't like your stuff? Yeah, Um, yeah. I just, uh I just don't think it's non biased enoughto to really go with it. Um, I just I've seen too many bands where everyone around them is rallying behind something, and then it actually gets out into the world and just falls flat on its face. Yeah, every you know, we could dive into this for hours, but I mean, everything is just relative and especially these days, like there's a taste for everything. Like people. There's there's thousands of people that, you know, I think this one thing is awesome and it like everyone else. It seems crazy. Um, so, I mean, you could find people that, like, your music or whatever it is that you're creating that are out there, Um, but, uh, I think I think by creating it, um, it almost is dead that it doesn't matter. Like you can't go into anything thinking like, uh um, like, whether or not you're going to satisfy, you know, another party or whatever. I think that should be totally out of the equation because there's you could make the weirdest, most bizarre thing you listen to emerge but record and it's just bizarre from front to back, um, and people buy it. You know, there's plenty people that buy that stuff. So it's, I think there's kind of a market for anything, Um, but then again, it's like I said, it's all relative. So it's what's cool to one person is totally uncool to another person. And, um, even what's cool to the person that thinks this is un cool is totally uncool to this person. So it's like, there's this relativity that goes all the way down. Teoh saw someone draw really awesome chart of like, the hipster relativity. You know? Um, and it's like this guy thinks with this guy's into sucks and this guy things with This guy's into socks and, you know, it goes all the way down until you're You know, the obvious thing is like nickel backs on one end and then, you know, godspeed. You black under emperors on the other end. And like there's, there's all these people in between Those two bands that, uh, you know, think that the person behind them music sucks on Do they think the person in front of their their music probably sucks, too? So it's just all every everything's is completely relative. And I'm not just that, uh, your friends and family aren't psychic. So, like either they genuinely like something. There's no, uh, that's no gauge for whether or not it's going to make any difference in the world. So you shouldn't worry about it. Um, it tastes aside, I mean, Aiken dislike something that's really successful and does really well, and I would have been totally wrong about it if I would have said that it wouldn't do good. I've been wrong about friends, bands that I thought weren't very good and weren't going to, um, weren't going to do good. And I've heard their songs and be like, There's just no way, And then the song ends up. You know, there's one particular song, like I grew up with the guys not super close to him, but the guys in Papa Roach and I remember hearing last resort for the first time, and it was since they were from the area like our local radio stations. Played it before a lot of other stations picked it up, and I just didn't think it was all that catchy. I didn't I didn't really think it was gonna do anything. And then just, you know, before my eyes, like over the next couple years, it was just like the biggest song ever thought The same thing when I first heard them When I was living in Boston, people were handing out the two song singing There's no way this is not happening like 11 million regulators. Yeah, Yeah, that just goes to show you like it doesn't really matter what you know. I thought I knew everything at that age, and obviously I didn't. I would have made a bad record executive. So, yeah, that's another art. So keep talking about hooks. Um, So we were saying that that not basically, but they are one of the main things with a song that differentiates it from other songs and also differentiates the itself within the song. And one thing that we were talking about, that you do, which I think more people should do. And a lot of my favorite bands do is borrow there there most interesting ideas from nonmetal sources. And I think that, uh, reason being is that, you know, you had one thing on top of something else that's not like it. And you create a brand new genre. We actually made a slide about that eventually, which will get to but like, say, for instance, open whether or not you like them. Uh oh, Beth, you could say is King Crims and plus morbid Angel equals open at least at one point in time changed by now. But, um, it was more of angel plus cannibal corpse. You get any other number of bands that were out and about back then, um or there's any number of any number of examples where you have a really unique band, and it's usually just the combination of two metal plus one other thing equals this band. And so I think you can either let that happen by accident or you can you can actually work on it. But I think that the first thing you could do is point out what it is about the hook that actually draws you in what they were saying like uh, with were time with Neo Song, but it didn't load, so that's fine. I can't talk. I could still kind of explain what it is about, Like pop songs that I think I'm drawn to. Um, I think it's It's what most people are drawn to when they hear pop songs. I think it's why they're successful on why they're widely accepted. I think I might just go into a little bit more of a dissection with whatever that is specifically within a song. I think it has to do with repetition. It has to do with the variants and tone and inflection of that part of the song. In the repetition, I think, comes with the melody and the lyric. It could be some variation of the two of those, or it could be both of them in this case, like he repeats several things in this song, and the melody in the note on the word you know, for several parts is repeated. And I think that's the kind of thing that I would pull out of. A song like this would be more of like a repetition kind of thing. It's like you just said in a psychosocial to after a big melodic chorus where I think it's there's not much space in it. It's just kind of soaring, and it was so crowded. But there's a lot going on and the hook is psychosocial. Pause itself right? Cause then, like, you know, look at racing against machines, whole catalog. And it was usually it was a hook because it was super repetitive on there's parts where he would do like the same blind 16 bars in a row. I mean, and that's the thing that you stuck in your head, you know, and you memorized and you like, you know, going back to this song. It's like the court, the actual choruses. The melody for it is like and I just can't get my self, uh, way. So it's got this, like, one note that names hitting you, and then it kind of deviates from it a little bit in the middle of each bar. But that's the kind of thing that I would take, you know, if I wanted to, I would take just the kind of bare bones overall idea of, like a repeating word. I would probably slow it down. Um, I would, you know, be a completely different time signature and stuff. But I would take that idea of like, ah, line of words and then just hitting each one kind of briefly with a single note and then deviating from it was just a kind of like the the bones of it. But you wouldn't even be able to You might not even be able to You hear any kind of resemblance to it when I was done with it? Good spark. You know, it's a good starting point. Was actually just wondering listening, Teoh, You, uh, talk about raging as machine is, I guess, uh, can you think of hooks that only happen once in a song? Is it by definition, that they repeat a bunch or at least enough, or ah, are there any that just literally happened? Once that air collective I'm I'm racking my brain trying to think of one song, that one course, one chorus and the hook happens once, and it's that strong that state around forever. If anyone, if anyone can think of one, please, yeah, would be nice Forward. Well, there's definitely, like courses that air tiny, like just a couple seconds long. Well, doesn't it make you feel bad? There isn't pretty much the entire hooker that's on, because then it goes into a almost A like a tertiary chorus. After that, Um, that doesn't happen every time. The only thing that happens constantly is the doesn't make you feel better. I guess it's got it does happen more than once tonight, but it also has the other elements that we were talking about, I guess really exaggerated there, like it's so different than the rest of this song, right? Like extremely Soto. Where it doesn't need to happen is many times because it's such a contrast in the drums in that song, really creative hook to Yeah, that's That's a huge element to totally, I guess maybe, uh, the more, uh, there's the more different is the greater amount of different elements that the hook has, the less times that needs to happen. And I mean, because does that make sense? Um, check it out. The next slide was about differentiation. Um, I guess I guess there's like, tricks you can definitely use, like, um, using really common one is using Melody that there was no melody before it, putting harmony on it. Different register like, uh, repeating key wars. And it really I don't think it matters what it is, cause every hook is gonna be different. It's okay, specific. But what matters is that it's something different. Yeah, I mean, we in de manera there's kind of a formula. It's a pretty obvious like thing to to pick out after hearing a couple of our records or even just one record, it's, you know, the standard thing to do is scream the verses choose between Scream or seeing the pre courses and then seeing the courses. That's going to be the most standard version of it, even under song. But we do have a handful of songs where there's, you know, singing verses and a screaming pre course and a singing chorus and a really small number of songs where there's actually screaming chorus on baby, even singing verses. So I mean, it definitely needs to if you're gonna for us. If we're gonna flip the formula and put like screaming Universe and seeing a singing universe and screaming in the chorus, that chorus definitely still has to feel like a chorus because it's basically flipping our our method around on. And if it isn't interesting enough or doesn't have enough prominence on that part of the song that it's not going to feel like a chorus, Um, so yet differentiation is kind of the key element to, I think, just a lot of modern metal core bands in general. Yes, if you're going from screaming to singing or saying this screaming it yet kind of same thing, yeah. Um, and I think a lot of bands do, um, they kind of if they want to fit into that kind of world, they'll do singing just to sing the right parts that, you know, just sound a little forced into the singing realm. Um, and and vice versa. Uh, totally not necessary, either. Yeah, it's unnecessary. And it's to me at least I think it's pretty obvious that the singing, the actual singing of it was kind of an afterthought. And it was more about Let's have a singing part right here. Whether or not it fits or works or is catchy or memorable was any good for the singer's any good? Yeah, yeah, I I remember that the whole misconception of you have to have a clean singing, being something from like 10 to 15 years ago that everybody used to say to everybody else. But nobody ever actually confirmed that it was true. It's just like an urban legend was. He has, like, a prerequisite for, like going from this level to this level. But it's not. Nardone over was true. No, not at all. It's just a stylistic, uh, it's just a silent the stylistic decision, and it's become really obvious that it's definitely not like a recipe for success. Absolutely not. There's some really, really big bands who prove it who just prove otherwise. Land of God, France. Dresser. More recently, White Chapel in the Top 10 like, I mean, you can go back in time and just find plenty of examples where, uh, it's just proved that you don't need clean vocals. But I mean, I love clean vocals of their well done. It's just they're not well done. There's no reason to. There's no reason to think that that's what's going to sell you a record cause clean vocal does not equal hook. If a clean vocal sucks, just equals a crappy clean, you can you can use, you can create hooks in just about any aspect of your song. Like any instrument, it's just I think the key is definitely differentiation. And it's in how you approach the vocals for sure. For instance, Climate. God, I think, uh, their hooks. We'll definitely There are a lot of lyrical hooks, but the guitar lines were always very, very catchy from the beginning. And I think that's what stuck in people's heads a lot. Never era lyrical hooks at times, but not a lot of books. Yeah or anything. It kind of slightly ventured into that world, like halfway through their career. But I think that kind of jump back out of that as well. It was never like straight up singing. No, I think it's just dabbling. Dabbled a little bit. He got right out.

Class Description

It’s easy for musicians to get so caught up in the latest gear, plugins, and presets, and forget that ultimately, it’s all about the music. Join Eyal Levi and special guests Ryan Clark (Demon Hunter), Todd Jones (Nails, Terror), and John Browne (Monuments) for an in-depth exploration of what it takes to craft great songs.

Eyal will share the tricks of the songwriting trade he’s learned over years of experience as a producer at Audiohammer Studios (The Black Dahlia Murder, August Burns Red, Whitechapel) and guitarist for Century Media/Roadrunner artists Daath. Throughout this two-day course, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the three core components of metal/rock songwriting. You’ll learn about basic song structure and riff-writing; melodies, leads, and vocals; and fine-tuning the arrangement to take your song from good to great. Eyal will be joined by special guests -- from musicians to producers and more -- who will empower you to take your songwriting to new heights.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Metal Songwriting Slides Session 1

Metal Songwriting Slides Session 2

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


user 6f3d0a

Eyal and all the guests are awesome here and really provide a solid education on Songwriting and writing within the Metal genre. One thing that Eyal said that really struck a chord with me, was how Songwriting was being taught at the music school he dropped out of and how it was uninspiring. I completely and thoroughly agree. I own many, many books and videos on Songwriting and I cannot get past the first few pages because it doesn't speak to me and my needs as a Songwriter who is focused on writing Metal. I've been playing Guitar for 25 years now and this is the very first course I've seen that takes Metal songwriting seriously and as a subject worth studying. I would like to commend CreativeLive on having the guts to feature heavy music so prominently in their courses and thank them for helping us establish Metal as a more serious genre. One that is worthy of awards, praise, distinction and honor. In Metal and Strength, R. Ross Strength Keeper Songwriting/Guitars/Vocals/Arranging

Mike Lamb

This was a massively inspirational and incredibly helpful course. By the end of it I had a notebook full of incredibly useful tips and tricks, and I definitely plan a rewatch as soon as possible. I've been in bands writing songs for the better part of 15 years, but this has put a lot of focus on some of the corners I've cut or the areas where I've been lazy with the smaller details. No matter where you are in your songwriting you'll definitely benefit from this, and Eyal articulates everything in an engaging way and positive way. Even if you think you're a good songwriter, there's a tonne here you can benefit from. 10/10 - Thanks Eyal!

Marco Ramírez

Great course, I have enjoyed it a lot and I'm sure I will come back to reinforce many of the concepts shown through the videos. Right now I'm good to go with ideas to apply to my songwriting skills and reinforce several concepts I already had developed prior to this course. This is a great lesson series... even for advanced musicians, anyone can get stuck in this wonderful world of writing and this course shows you tools to get out the best of this process.