There have been countless lists of what others consider to be the very best metal guitar riffs. Some lists are extremely comprehensive, while others focus on the underappreciated efforts of our metal guitar heroes.
While I value the opinions of my fellow metal heads, I must respectfully disagree with every single list ever created. Watch the video below to see what are in fact the most epic, awesome heavy metal riffs of all time.
In order to compile a truly accurate list such as this, a great deal of energy should be spent on understanding exactly what makes a mind-bending, face-melting metal guitar riff, while also bearing in mind the impact that each piece of music had on the guitar community when it was unleashed from the abyss of each creator’s strings and into our earholes.
The first facet of a fantastic heavy metal riff is the attitude imbued within it. The first selection from my list displays this characteristic perfectly. The Randy Rhoads masterpiece Bark at the Moon single-handedly (well, actually, I guess he uses both hands) delivers an aggressive onslaught of rhythm and lead choices that prove you don’t need tritones to achieve a truly devastating metal riff. All you need is a hostile, venomous attack on the strings.
On the other end of the spectrum, Tony Iommi, the grandfather of metal if I do say so myself, educates us on the art of using crushingly slow tempos to convey his intention in the appropriately titled Black Sabbath, causing us to question one thing: is that Satan himself coming out of the speakers?
Most importantly, a tried and true metal guitar riff will instill a sense of brutal belligerence in the listener, tapping into our adrenal glands and pulling apart our very souls. It’s with these factors in mind that I was able to assemble a list of the very best metal guitar riffs. Period.
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.