The 50 Best Metal Riffs Ever

20. King Diamond – Welcome Home

Chris Broderick, Act Of Defiance: “The opening riff will forever be a part of my life! It was so popular among friends in my teens, that we’d usually greet each other by screaming the first lyric, ‘Grandma!’, ha ha! I love this song so much, I must have worn through three tapes and a couple of CDs.”

19. Meshuggah – Sickening

Acle Kahney, Tesseract:Sickening changed the way I approached the guitar. The use of two guitars to create a left-right stereo effect, the abrasive tone and the disjointed grooves were like nothing else and spawned a whole new way of thinking about riff writing.”

18. Rammstein – Du Hast

Sean Long, While She Sleeps: “For me, what makes any riff special has absolutely nothing to do with the complexity or speed of it. It’s all to do with rhythm and note placement. The two main notes just change pattern slightly, and I think it’s genius how it’s impossible not to bang your head to it.”

17. Type O Negative – Everyone I Love Is Dead

Reba Meyers, Code Orange: “The composition, the texture and the unfolding and exposure of the riff after the band comes in is timed so well and is so satisfying. The tone, build and vibe of the riff is all their own, and fully creates mood, colour and imagery with sound.”

16. Lamb Of God – 11th Hour

Doc Coyle, Bad Wolves: “The chorus riff is the perfect blend of hook, technical wonder, induced head-banging and hum-ability. Each riff is more savage than the one before. As The Palaces Burn is the riff bible of modern metal, so picking one is like deciding which body part you’d prefer to cut off.”

15. Alice In Chains – Check My Brain

Arjen Lucassen, Ayreon:Alice In Chains are my favourite band to come out of the Seattle grunge scene. More metal than grunge, I guess. My favourite album is Dirt, but my favourite riff is Check My Brain. I fell in love with it right away, and I’ve been trying to figure out how Jerry Cantrell does it!”

14. Rage Against The Machine – Bombtrack

Luke Kilpatrick, Parkway Drive: “Rage were the reason I got into playing guitar. I got a few lessons, let the mixolydian scales go in one ear and out the other, then focused when my teacher deciphered this ripper of an intro riff, and it’s clean! Every riff in the song is epic, but that intro got me hooked!”

13. Slipknot – Three Nil

Kristan Dawson, Bury Tomorrow: “If there’s a riff that reflects my roots in metal, it has to be the verse in Three Nil. I spent hours in front of my CD player, mesmerised by the ferocity. This song inspired my taste and playing growing up, from the groove, use of notes and the idea that less can sometimes be more.”

12. Scorpions – The Sails Of Charon

Ice Dale, Enslaved: “This verse riff is one of my favourites. It’s so distinct, groovy, mean and arrogant at the same time. I really like how it builds up with the voicings, without actually changing the riff. Simple and very efficient. The lead part over it isn’t that bad, either!”

11. Carcass – Black Star

Jock Norton, Puppy: “When I first heard this song, I was surprised to learn it was Carcass, ’cos I only really knew Symphonies Of Sickness before that, and this had way more of a groove metal sort of vibe. It’s a rager of a riff straight out the gate and just keeps getting better as the song progresses.”

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