The 50 Best Metal Riffs Ever

10. Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People

Jørgen Munkeby, Shining: “The main riff on Beautiful People is the best ever metal riff written in 6/8! It’s got the balls. It’s got the bravado. It’s got the swing. It’s got the rawness. It’s even got the ominous tritone interval securely etched straight up in the middle of it, like an unholy metal spine!”

9. At The Gates – Slaughter Of The Soul

Sarah Longfield: “I have a special place for the intro in my heart, because it was the first riff I ever learned on my seven-string as a kid. But it also led me to check out the rest of the album, which I think is one of the most timeless melodeath pieces ever!”

8. Slayer – Angel Of Death

Corey Beaulieu, Trivium: “The opening riff of Angel Of Death is fast, intense, and kicks off one of metal’s most iconic albums in an evil fashion. I remember buying Reign In Blood as a kid, and was instantly blown away by Angel Of Death’s intensity. I knew right away I needed to learn how to play it. Not only is the riff amazing, Angel Of Death is also one of the best metal songs ever written.”

7. Pantera – A New Level

Satchel, Steel Panther: “Dime was awesome. This riff rips your balls off and splatters them against the wall. What’s left that slides down and pools on the floor, this riff scoops up and puts into a blender and purées into a tasty testicle shake that you’ll happily drink while you listen to more Pantera.”

6. Dio – Holy Diver

Padge, Bullet For My Valentine: “Dio was a master of metal, an amazing singer. I loved his Sabbath period, too. And Killswitch Engage did a super job on covering this. The riff from this song brings out the finest of air guitarists wherever it’s played, and takes me back to the good old metal days. Horns up!”

5. Machine Head – Davidian

Scott Middleton, Cancer Bats: “When I first heard this in ’94, my mind was blown and I don’t think there’s been anything heavier since. This track set the standard for the last 20 years of modern metal. Davidian not only has the best intro riff ever, but also the heaviest breakdown of all time.”

4. Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills

Joel O’Keeffe, Airbourne: “What I love about the riff in Run To The Hills is that it really gets your blood pumping from start to finish. And when they do it live, it’s an absolute stomping track. The crowd just goes nuts. The riff kicks arse. The whole crowd sings it. They sing the riff.”

3. Metallica – Creeping Death

Pepper Keenan, Corrosion Of Conformity: “In the mid-80s I was listening to my Creeping Death 12” with some baked compadres. I switched it from 45rpm to 33rpm to be a dick, and we were attacked by the most ferocious and bombastic guitar riffs I had ever heard! It pretty much ruined my life, but for the better.”

2. Megadeth – Holy Wars... The Punishment Due

James Barnett, Cane Hill: “Anytime I think Megadeth, Holy Wars crosses my mind. When the song transitions, it goes into an absolutely massive riff. Very iconic in my opinion. It’s also really clever when you break down what they’re doing. Dave [Mustaine] and Marty [Friedman] were always good at that."

1. Black Sabbath – Symptom Of The Universe

Manuel Gagneux, Zeal & Ardor:Symptom Of The Universe further cements Tony Iommi as a riff machine! The palm-muted opening notes get their unmistakable sheen from the thin strings he uses. This song debuted elements that are still echoed throughout the heavy music landscape.”

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