It’s time for “The Call of Ktulu” and leading bass! So expected article and tabs. And now you get it. What treasures are hidden by Metallica and maestro Cliff Burton in this epic instrumental?
A big work was done (as well as “Orion” or “Best Live Solos”) “The Call of Ktulu” bass line is one of the biggest secrets of Metallica. Bass is so buried in mix, and there’s no separate master track available. A lot of guys made their own versions of “Ktulu”, and they are all different. I think, the most accurate one’s performing by Robert Trujillo. How he get it? Who knows. Maybe other Metallica members helped him (if they still remember the details) plus Rob’s great ear for music. Or they still have the bass track… Anyway, Robert’s vision “The Call of Ktulu” was kind of my reference point.
How did I picked “The Call of Ktulu”? I analyzed this song over years, and my recent work was very thorough. Some pieces I played by force of habit (like 0-0-12-12), but I still believe that it’s more suitable to performed and probable how Cliff played. Practice proved that.
There’s a lot of doubtful moments in the bass line. To get them by enhancing bass in EQ. And listening, listening, listening. Also I could hear some unclear notes I this probably the best trial to boost “Ktulu” bass (thanks to a guy who did it! \m/).
Now we break it all down. To help you to orientate in the epicness of “The Call of Ktulu”, I did this graph of song structure. There’re 6 riffs painted in different colors there, and few variations of some of them marked as “a”, “b”, “c”. Current tonality and tempo are also noticed. Leading bass parts are underlined pink. It’s something new, isn’t it?
Intro. Bass starts from riff 2a, all understood here. What about 3a? I hear there dead notes and fade in on open D, what I actually did in video. Most guys played only D. It ends by slide from high A, and I performed this piece with some prelude (12-14-15-17):
Then the leading bass sections goes, 4+3 parts of riffs brick 2b+3b. They all starts similarly, but with some variations indistinct in mix. Nevertheless I could get lower move G-A on 4th string in 3rd part:
Endings of phrase change from one part to another. Those fills are the classic Cliff Burton’s leading bass. I’m sure about first 3 parts, the rest is doubtful. I tried to play that as close to Cliff’s style of performance and writing bass lines as it’s possible:
– sure ones
– one with bends (I believe, this is the most correct variant in Internet)
– ones absolute assumptions (but they so fit)
– one with probable tapping (we can hear only C-D move, here on frets 10-12, and the figure’s build instinctively)
Sections 2 and 4 are built around riff on chromatic progression (maybe it went from 3rd riff). It’s going with interesting modulations Em-Gm and Em-F#m-Gm-Am. It makes escalating mood. By the way, I played some notes in differently positions from one repeat to another (like B on 7th fret of 4th string and on 2nd fret of 3rd string, but it doesn’t really matter). Here’s main version in Em:
Section 5 brings us back to main progressions. And here you can here second bass track over main line – releasing bends sound like howls. Second one (A > F#) turned out very close to original Burton’s performance. By the way, I almost forgot about this stuff, but I recorded it under the wire.
Then goes traditional dragging out of song by Metallica that we love so much: one more riff, outro on intro riff, and coda (it’s kind of song encore). “The Call of Ktulu” closes a leading bass passage, a variation of melody we heard in section 2. I played it by three-finger tremolo in free tempo:
Few words about the tab. I can improve it: get rid of down slides (I explained them there), organize repeats better (but GuitarPro doesn’t let multibar alternative endings, only with one bar) etc. Anyway you get the idea of how Cliff played the stuff, it’s the most important thing. I’ll make a lesson about how to play the leading bass fills, when time comes.
And here’s a rare “The Call of Ktulu” live with Cliff Burton:
Great song. Great bass. The review turns out rough a bit (so many information had to be handled), but it’s done.
Mission complete 14 of 32. Next – “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” or “The Four Horsemen”. You had time to propose songs, and I chose this couple to work on.
Thanks for expecting and being with me all the time! R.I.P. Cliff Burton! \m/
Tags: Metallica, The Call of Ktulu, bass tab, bass cover, leading bass, Cliff Burton, Total Cliff, Andriy Vasylenko