Tony Iommi gave birth to heavy metal – and learning his techniques will make you a better riff writer

Tony Iommi performs onstage
(Image credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for ABA)

Black Sabbath well and truly put heavy metal on the map in 1970 with their self-titled album. From this moment, Tony Iommi’s snarling, overdriven tone, powerchord riffs, and hammer-on sequences paved the way for things to come. 

Across the decades, Iommi’s rhythm guitar parts planted the seed for numerous metal subgenres – from the slow, doomy riffs of Into The Void, to the thrashier down-picked progressions in Symptoms Of The Universe, and the weighty, stoner metal guitar lines of Sweet Leaf

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Jamie Hunt

Jamie is a regular contributor to Guitar Techniques and Total Guitar magazines. He is also a Principal Lecturer in guitar and live performance at BIMM Bristol. Alongside this, he shares seven string guitar duties with Steve Smyth (ex-Testament, ex-Nevermore, Forbidden), in the modern thrash metal band One Machine. Additionally, Jamie is the UK brand ambassador for ESP guitars, where he creates product demos and delivers clinics across the UK and throughout the Scandinavian countries. More recently, he co-created the ESP School of Metal Guitar, where a team of versatile metal guitarists break down all things heavy.