Mark Holcomb of Periphery: My Five Most Influential Guitarists

Hey, everyone. Mark Holcomb of Periphery here with a list of my five most influential guitarists. Enjoy!

05. James Hetfield

Metallica taught me how to play guitar, plain and simple. I spent years playing only Metallica songs in my bedroom, and it was really the only band I cared about when I started learning. Playing his riffs taught me how to play tightly, which is something a lot of beginning guitarists don't think about. They just want to skip to Yngwie and be a guitar hero.

As a guitar teacher, I always instruct my students to focus on rhythm playing and locking in rhythmically as a start, because if you can't play tight to a metronome or a click track, nobody is going to wanna jam, much less start a band with you. Playing those Hetfield riffs along to the actual songs enforced the idea to me early on that songs and rhythm come first.

04. Ihsahn

Emperor's final album, Prometheus, is maybe my favorite metal album ever, and the guitar work is a main part of it. The album had such an epic, darkly symphonic vibe to it, but the riffs were so incredibly tasty and the arrangements were grandiose but concise enough to not bore you. He walks that fine line of writing dark, dramatic riffs that also happen to be technical and tasteful.

As a black metal player starting out, his trem-picking on that record was frequently used but accented in such unique, melodic ways that I wasn't accustomed to hearing in heavy music. He harnesses that primal feeling that traditional black metal players have, but he refines it with taste, melody and a trained compositional ear.

03. Dimebag Darrell

Dime just doesn't need an explanation. Impeccable phrasing, articulation and most of all, feel in his lead playing, and is perhaps the best riff-writer of that generation. He is an absolute legend in every way.

02. Devin Townsend

Devin's melodic sensibilities as a player and songwriter were an epiphany for me. Songwriting always comes first for him and that was a huge influence on me — especially considering he is an absolute, old-school shredder in every way, just that not many would know it because he crafts songs first and foremost. Hearing records like "Ocean Machine," "Terria" and the heavier side in "City" taught me to focus more on melody, context, riffs and songs rather than just leads.

His use of alternate tunings also made me want to experiment with bigger, brighter and more dynamic chords in metal.

01. Randy Rhoads

I remember loving his playing on Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman when I was younger, but the moment I heard him play live on Tribute, my view of guitar was transformed. He was an amazing riff-writer and songwriter, but where he really shined was in his ability to spice up songs when playing live and add a new dimension to songs by improvising and adding spontaneous fills. The classical influence in his songwriting and lead playing were so ahead of its time.

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