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The 10 filthiest death metal riffs ever

Headbanging
(Image credit: Steve Thorne/Redferns)

Tom Cronin - Celestial Sanctuary

(Image credit: Church Road Records)

Hey you fucks, it's Tom Cronin from New Wave of British Death Metal maniacs Celestial Sanctuary here to count down my 10 favourite filthy death metal riffs. I 100 per cent prefer a riff over a solo, so as easy as it was to pick out a load of riffs I love, it was super hard to whittle it down to just 10.

There's some old stuff and some new stuff - but it's all rank, vile and putrid. So grab yourself a delicious beverage and prepare to have your inner ear canals rotted away with the filthiest death metal riffs ever.

Metal Hammer line break

10. Ripping Corpse - Beyond Humanity (from 1:40)

When it all drops out and you get a chugging guitar that sounds like it's just a few BPM slower than it should be, it feels wrong but it's so right - that's what makes riffs stick with me and this is executed perfectly here.


9. Vastum - Dispossessed in Rapture (from 1:55)

One of my favourite things is going from an intense/fast bit to smashing it on the head with something blunt and slowing it down to a gormless pace. The riff is executed perfectly here.


8. Tomb Mold - Manor of Infinite Forms (from 0:51)

Probably the catchiest, bounciest and most up-tempo entry on this list. Just a perfect stomper of a riff and really memorable. Crushing!


7. Fetid - Consumed Periphery (from 1:20) 

Ultimate respect for doing a bass riff and it actually sounding sick - the bass tone is fucking rank. I just love how this whole part makes me think of some slimey little fish-thing crawling out of a body of primordial goo, slowly finding its feet and just as it does, the guitars ooze their way in on the evolutionary action. Fetid are probably one of the filthiest sounding bands around at the moment.


6. Gatecreeper - Patriarchal Grip (0:00 onwards)

I love slow and I love filthy and I love a long single note doom riff, which is essentially what this is. That sense of anticipation it creates only enhances the next part when it kicks in. 


5. Cannibal Corpse - Scourge Of Iron (from 0:11)

The king of all dumb-dumb riffs. Imagine someone breaking off a piece of stalagmite from a cave floor and pulverising your face until you’re just a lifeless body in a Cannibal Corpse T-shirt with nothing but a blood puddle left where your head used to be - then you're half way there. When I first heard them play it live, honestly, to this day it's the heaviest thing I've ever heard. 


4. Mammoth Grinder - Diving Loss (From 0:00)

This riff lives in my head rent-free: a stank-face inducing, neck-breaking, knuckle-dragger of a riff. Just wish it lasted longer.


3. Bolt Thrower - Remembrance (from 2:07)

Bolt Thrower have an extensive armoury of some of the most elite shit you'll ever hear and it was so hard to pick just one riff from them, but they are at their best when they're executing simplicity to perfection. I love that it just breaks, repeats and fades out. To be honest it could have gone on for eternity and I'd just there banging my head until my head is hanging on by its last fibre of muscle. Killer.

2. Morbid Angel - Where The Slime Live (from 0:48)

I mean, this song is one festering dirt riff after another so it's hard to pick just one. But I'd have to go with that ‘verse’ riff. It combines stanky bends, the weird trademark Azagthoth creativity and the odd pinch harmonic. I wanna live where the slime live.


1. Carcass - Embodiment (from 0:29)

Heartwork is probably my most listened-to death metal album of all time and this fat fucking stanky riff has had the same effect on me ever since I first heard it. It's just a pure, simple ripper that gets the job done – it can be repeated a hundred times and not get boring. Which is what a great riff is all about.


Celestial Sanctuary’s debut album, Soul Diminished, is released on March 26 via Church Road Records