The Black Dahlia Murder's Brandon Ellis is the latest to enter the Gear Factor arena, sharing some of the background of how he came to be a guitarist, revealing his influences and playing a few of his own riffs.

The '80s was a great time for guitar heroes, and one of the era's poster boys initially garnered the attention of young Brandon. He credits Eddie Van Halen for inspiring his interest in playing. “Van Halen for sure made me want to be a lead guitar player. Everything that he did was like so cool to me – the attitude and the guitars. He made his own guitar at the factory and he caught up with guitars with this wacky sideways Humbucker in there," says Ellis, who also rocks a Van Halen favorite. "His DIY attitude and his lead guitar presence and persona was super special to me."

Like many aspiring guitarists, Ellis started on a classic riff. "The first riff I ever learned was definitely ‘Smoke on the Water.’ I remember that. It was on my sister’s three quarter scale acoustic guitar,” says the musician, who riffs out the iconic guitar part.

“I started learning guitar when I was 10 years old, but I never took lessons. Members of my family were helping me out and steering me in the right direction and I had friends who were into it to, and we would kind of show each other what we were learning. Also, the Internet was around when I starting out, so there was a lot of googling. I don’t think YouTube was around, but there was still a lot of information on the Internet,” says Ellis, who found himself really digging into music theory from the beginning.

The guitarist says his early interest in guitar pushed him toward more advanced material, which took him down the metal rabbit hole, demonstrating some Iron Maiden as well as an Yngwie Malmsteen economy picking technique on "I Am a Viking."

Digging into the Black Dahlia Murder's catalogue, he reveals that the song "Jars" off the Nightbringers album was likely his first Black Dahlia riff. After displaying a bit of that, Ellis turns his attention to the title track from their most recent album, Verminous. First playing the verse riff, Ellis transitions to the chorus riff, which advances the degree of difficulty. “It starts out both guitars in unison and then there’s a harmony part and the harmony part has sort of difficult string skipping,” says Ellis.

Check out Brandon's playing and the full Gear Factor episode above. You can also pick up The Black Dahlia Murder's Verminous album here.

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