Archive for the ‘Riff of the moment’ Category

Do I even need to tell you what riff I’m on about? Electric Wizard, who have written riffs heavy enough to crack planets and sink continents, may never top this one. The titan main riff to the opening track of ‘Come My Fanatics’ is staggering in more ways than one. The simplicity of it is probably its greatest attribute, a slow motion dirge that evokes the end of the world, buildings falling into choking dust. It’s the Wizard’s finest riff, and it encompasses everything that is essential about the band and their sound. It’s huge, fuzzy and pure doom menace.

It may not be my favourite Wizard riff, that honour probably goes to ‘The Nightchild’ from 2010’s ‘Black Masses’, but ‘Return Trip’ is probably the most iconic, and the most representative of what Electric Wizard are. I once requested this in a rock bar in Glasgow, and watched as everyone sat and thought ‘what the fuck is this?’ Except for me, and one young lad who ran up to me and said, ‘Dude, what is this, its fucking awesome?’ ‘This is Electric Wizard son’ I replied, ‘and you should seek out more’

The intro to ‘Dopes of Infinity’ is one of the purest Sabbath riffs never to come from those magical Iommi fingers. It has the the perfect mix of catchy but heavy as fuck guitar. It sounds like a lost b-side from ‘Master of Reality’, but then morphs into one of the best stoner metal tunes you’ll ever hear. Monster Magnet have been a consistent force in the good old fashioned rock and roll world of stoner rock. ‘Dopes to Infinity’ is probably Monster Magnet’s best record, certainly their most famous, which helps its cause here as my riff of the moment.

But don’t let yourself think that this opening riff isn’t that spiritual successor to ‘Into the Void’. Because it is, so turn it up and bang your fucking head

Holy shit. The opening riff to the title track of Meshuggah’s staggeringly heavy 2008 album ObZen has got to be one of the heaviest things they’ve ever written. It’s a riff I can NEVER get bored of, and I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it. This is what every djent band is trying to create, and yet no one comes close.

Its about as close as Meshuggah generally come to what could be called a proper headbanger’s riff. The time signature is almost standard, and that great, almost mechanized guitar tone is beefed with some serious bass. It’s a neck wrecker. I saw Meshuggah live in Glasgow and this riff was really the only moment when you didn’t have drunken metalheads headbanging completely out of sync. Well, actually they still were but it was close. Meshuggah have many epic riffs I could sling into this post, but ‘ObZen’ will always be my favourite. Put it on and attempt to keep your spinal column in one piece. Brutal.

This riff of the moment is brought to you by Nile, the most brutal and well researched death metal band on the planet. There are so many Nile riffs I could chuck into one of these posts, but there is one that, for me, stands above all that Karl Sanders has ever put through his custom 7 stringer.

‘Eat of the Dead’ is on Ithyphallic, one of Nile’s lesser appreciated records. Admittedly it was sandwiched between the jaw-dropping Annihilation of the Wicked (2005) and the career-defining sweeping epic that is Those Whom the Gods Detest, a review of which will be forthcoming. But it was another flawless slab of ancient, technical brutality, injected with vast swathes of ethnic instrumentation and meticulously researched tales of Egypt. Plus, with ‘Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who is in the Water’, it probably has the Nile song with the best name. ‘What Can be Safely Written’ and ‘Even the Gods Must Die’ are essential Nile tracks. But it is ‘Eat of the Dead’ that has the key riff. It starts at 4:32, after a bruising middle section that enhances the speed of the song by 400%.

THAT riff, that’s what Metallica’s Creeping Death would have sounded like in reality. That is the sound of some Lovecraftian beast, inching its way across desert sands, devouring all in its darkness. It encompasses all which latter Nile has become; titanic, atonal, Eastern, heavier than Hell itself. The drums and unholy incantation help to make it better, but that ungodly riff carries the moment…

This is a column that I could literally do every ten minutes, but I’m currently half cut on Icelandic Pale Ale (Einstok, very nice btw) and I’ve got This Glorious Nightmare by Unearth on. I feel bad for Unearth, because they were lumped in with that metalcore nonsense at the turn of 2004, when they actually turned out to be a pretty quality modern thrash band. I first enjoyed their chunky brand of headbanging riffage when I heard ‘The Great Dividers’ from 2004’s ‘The Oncoming Storm’. Frankly, I thought it was ace, and still do, so when they released ‘III: In the Eyes of Fire’ in 2008 I was overjoyed. They’re pretty meat and potatoes chugging thrash riffs that it doesn’t take a virtuoso to wirte but fuck it, they slay. Seriously, they riff like few others, and the fact that they rarely wander off into melodic singing nonsense wins them major brownie points.

The simple point of this post is listen to Unearth. The last album I heard by them was ‘The March’, and I was disappointed by it. But ‘The Oncoming Storm’ and ‘III: The Eyes of Fire’ are quality, modern thrash records, full of pure, headbanging chug genius. I love it, and you should too.