Skip to main content

The 50 Best Metal Riffs Ever

30. Dissection – Beyond The Horizon

Erik Danielsson, Watain: “A riff that always sends shivers down my spine is the first melody – technically the third riff – in Beyond The Horizon. It’s a prime example of Jon Nödtveidt’s ability to portray cataclysmic, fanatic evil as something sublimely beautiful, something truly sacred and magical.”

29. Fu Manchu – Ojo Rojo

Tim Sult, Clutch: “In the early 90s, we were opening for Monster Magnet in Phoenix, Arizona, when I encountered Fu Manchu, who were also playing. I was already a fan of the Kyuss slow, warm groove, and when I heard Fu Manchu I was instantly hooked. I have been a fan ever since.”

28. Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove It)

Chelsea Wolfe: “When this riff comes on, you instantly recognise the band and the song, and you’re filled with the energy and memory of when you first heard it. It’s definitely that way for me, especially since Deftones are hometown heroes for the Sacramento-born-and-bound.”

27. Judas Priest – Victim Of Changes

Brian Tatler, Diamond Head: “It is an awesome, rolling riff and brilliant arrangement full of dynamic twists and turns, plus a rock vocal masterclass from Rob Halford. A blueprint for the Diamond Head song Sucking My Love [on 1980’s Lightning To The Nations] – steal from the best! I first saw the mighty Priest at Birmingham Town Hall, supporting Budgie for 70p. Bargain!”

26. Forbidden – March Into Fire

Federica Gialanze, Black Moth: "Forbidden Evil (1988 album) contributed massively to my guitar playing and helped me push some serious boundaries! I adore this riff’s nastiness! It’s fast, it’s driven and it’s the perfect tempo to bang your head, fuck shit up, run down a hill, punch people… what’s not to love?!”

25. Opeth – Master's Apprentices

Paul Waggoner, Between The Buried And Me: “The first riff in this song is a banger. They play it, like, a hundred times in a row and it’s still not enough. If I chopped firewood for a living, I’d have this sucker on a loop and be incredibly efficient at cranking out choice-cut pinewood logs.” 

24. Converge – Heartless

Brady Deeprose, Conjurer: “The closing riff is so well constructed and impressively crushing without relying on muting or dissonance – it’s a proper ‘throw ya pint and lose ya shit’ banger. The build-up is near-perfect, too. And the Redux version? Kurt Ballou fucking smashed that remaster.”

23. Manowar – Gloves Of Metal

JB, Grand Magus: “It’s an impossible task to choose one great riff out of thousands that have different personal emotions tied to them, but Gloves Of Metal has always had a special place in my heart. When I hear that riff, I cannot resist making a fist and grinning from ear to ear.”

22. Veil Of Maya – Punisher

Stef Carpenter, Deftones: “The first time I ever heard this song, it stood out and got me moving! Not even three seconds in and you’re taking a beatdown! The whole song is crafted perfectly; every riff, lead, drum and bass flawless. Then, out of nowhere, a voice sings the riff! You can’t beat that!”

21. Gojira – Toxic Garbage Island

Plini: “The main/intro riff is the perfect blend of crazy guitar techniques, while still being pissed off. Gojira showed me that a riff needn’t be restricted to single notes or simple chords, and could be made infinitely cooler with lead guitar techniques like harmonics and slides.”