Inside The Shredder’s Studio #3: Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy

Only a short introduction is needed here. This gentleman played on Hall Of Fame certified None So Vile, not to mention the inimitiable Blasphemy Made Flesh. He’s back in Cryptopsy and a big reason their eponymous new album rules. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re proud to welcome Jon Levasseur to the shredder’s studio this week.
Hey everyone! Jon Levasseur from Cryptopsy here to talk about my favorite metal riffs. These riffs have directly influenced my rhythm guitar playing and ultimately, Cryptopsy’s riffing style and songwriting. Here’s my trip down memory lane, hope you enjoy.

Metallica: Master of Puppets

Every riff in this song is unique, from the technical beginning to the gracious clean with twin melodies, from the over powerful power chords to the faster scaling riff after the solo. This song had it all and kept me busy. James Hetfield was the first metal guitarist to influence my rhythm playing with his rock solid down picking technique and his power chords, which he plays with his index/pinky finger. I had a hard time learning that, but it does make it easier and is something that has served me extremely well.

Slayer: Angel Of Death

The violence, chaos, speed and sheer brutality of the riffs are unmatched. That raw guitar sound and razor sharp speed picking from the start to half way through the song where they unveil the epic groove with Slayer’s twin guitar harmonization is just devastating. These guys taught me speed picking and unconventional harmonization, giving a psychotic feel to any given riff. Most of all, this song taught me to keep the insanity and intensity coming, enough is NEVER enough, basically show no mercy!

Testament: Over The Wall

The first time I heard this song (and album), I got shivers. The introduction of complex and hard to decipher picking patterns, the brutal riffing combined to a neo-classical musicality, speed, technicality and the solos…it just blew me away! What I learned from the Peterson/Skolnick duo is this: “pick up your guitar, kid, and get your ass practicing.” At this point, I would practice the same picking patterns for hours. I had quite a few “from dusk ’til dawns” to get my brain and wrist in tune for this but I remember it being the biggest sentiment of achievement when I was able to (barely) keep up with the tape.

Entombed: Chaos Breed

That memorable first riff followed by the epic gallop riff and groove was so intense. This song has some of the best melodic speed picking riffs ever, odd catches within the beats, high on the neck power chords and then the epic down tempo groove using just one chord. So simple yet so devastating! Entombed’s lesson was that it doesn’t necessarily need to be fast and technical to be genuinely awesome.

Carcass: Incarnated Solvent Abuse

Even lower down tuning? Right off the bat: speed, melody, harmonies and all that over a blast beat? My little brain exploded! The guitar tone and heaviness of those chunky riffs combined with a neo-classical feel on the solo section was right up my alley, not to mention the catchiness of the main riff. This proved that it was o.k. to combine brutality, heaviness and musicality.

Suffocation: Liege of Inveracity

Death by firing squad is what the first listen felt like. Holy shit did these guys ever crank it up. Fast changing notes with a psycho-melodic feel, fast speed picking and a brand new over-the-top heavy style of riffing. There are four amazing groove riffs in this song. The riffs (and album) were so advanced and innovative, it gave an “ambience” of extreme brutality and controlled chaos that no one ever heard before.

Malevolent Creation: Slaughter Of Innocence

This song has like four starts before it actually goes. Savage riffing, fast moving power chords, complex picking patterns and violent crunch is obvious here especially in the whole middle build up that leads to the infamous “die mother fucker!” Malevolent Creation had their own sound and style of riffing and were another ingredient influencing my playing.

Dream Theater: Under A Glass Moon

About six months before I joined Cryptopsy. I learned a great lesson my old man tried to teach me since I was a kid (but I wouldn’t listen): “always keep an open mind and embrace a much larger view of the world of music that surrounds us. As a musician, this is where you’ll always find fresh ideas and contribute wisely to the evolution of your music.”What my Dad was trying to make me understand over many years, Dream Theater did in just the time it took to listen to this song. John Petrucci is one of my favorite guitar players and his work here is stellar.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this. A special thanks to Decibel for this opportunity to go back down memory lane! Cheers!