Explaining The "Fade To Black" Modulation

Who here does not know "Fade To Black" by Metallica?

(Tumbleweeds. Crickets.)

Great! You know the opening solo? (Of course!) Toward the end of that solo, Metallica wrote a fantastic change of key from Bm to Am that is incredibly smooth and good sounding.

You would expect that to be easy.

And yet, I have not found anybody online who explains how that change of key works, and how we can do the same in our songs.

(I did find several wrong explanations, though... but I won't mention who wrote them.)

So here's a simple video that shows how the "Fade To Black" modulation works, why it sounds so smooth and natural, and how you can do the same on your own songs:

If you are a Metallica fan, then there is more to Metallica than just this modulation (of course).

So let's see some more about them.

Here for instance is how to write riffs in Metallica's style.

And here instead we have a look at some of the strange and scary chords that Metallica use in their songs.

If like me you are a fun of the 'clean guitar' sections in Metallica's song, this is the video for you.


Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock/metal guitarist and composer based in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Tommaso is currently working on an instrumental CD, and an instructional series on fretboard visualization and exotic scales. He is your go-to guy for any and all music theory-related questions.

Tommaso Zillio