Top Ten Metal Bands With the Best Riffs


The Top Ten

1 Pantera Pantera Pantera was an American Heavy Metal band formed in 1981 by guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul. The band started out as a Glam Metal act in the 1980s with little success. After discarding their original lead vocalist and enlisting Phil Anselmo, the band signed a major record deal with more.

Not my favorite band, but you've gotta admit Dime has the best riffs out there. Just listen to songs like I'm Broken and Walk. - AngryByrd

A New Level, Becoming, Walk, Domination, Mouth For War and Slaughtered. Said enough.

I actually think Mouth For War is their best riff.
Annihilator, Pantera, Metallica and Amon Amarth - the best riffs. Runners up - Mastodon, Primal Fear. - Metal_Treasure

2 Iron Maiden Iron Maiden Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The most critically acclaimed period for the band was from 1983-1989. With vocalist Bruce Dickinson, bassist Steve Harris, lead guitarist Dave Murray, rhythm guitarist Adrian more.

Too many amazing riffs to count; Roughly 65 really good riffs and 20 great riffs

The Trooper, Aces High, Fear Of The Dark, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Mother Russia, Caught Somewhere In Time, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son and many more

3 Metallica Metallica Metallica is an American Thrash Metal band formed in 1981 . The original lineup was James Hetfield (Vocalist and Rhythm guitarist), Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums), Ron McGovney (Bassist). The group came into mainstream from their Self-Titled album and the hit single "Enter Sandman". more.
4 Black Sabbath Black Sabbath Black Sabbath were a Heavy Metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1968 by guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi, singer John "Ozzy" Osbourne, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. more.

Tony Iommi is the God of riffs

Tony Iommi wrote the absolute best and most recognizable riffs of all time. No way Sabbath isn't #1

Notable riffs:
Iron Man
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
War Pigs
Heaven and Hell - ryanrimmel

5 Slayer Slayer Slayer is an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California, formed in 1981 by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. They rose to fame with their 1986 album Reign in Blood, and is credited as one of the big four of thrash metal bands, the others being Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. more.

I agree guitars aren't their prime but maybe Lombardo is the most talented. - Metal_Treasure

Maybe if he did more fills. And less of the "snare snare" repetitiveness. - IronSabbathPriest

I've never really considered guitars to be Slayer's prime. I think Araya is the most talented. - IronSabbathPriest

@IronSabbathPriest - I agree with you about fills and snare overuse. I adore fills and don't like very much the snare sound (I prefer double bass). But Tom gets repetitive, too. Maybe everybody does at a certain point. - Metal_Treasure

6 Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon is an American heavy metal band from Atlanta, Georgia, formed in early 2000 and composed of bassist Troy Sanders, guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher and drummer Brann Dailor.
7 Dio Dio Dio was an American heavy metal band formed in 1982 and led by vocalist Ronnie James Dio, after he left Black Sabbath with intentions to form a new band with fellow former Black Sabbath member, drummer Vinny Appice.
8 Megadeth Megadeth Megadeth is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California. Megadeth was formed in 1983 by guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, shortly after Mustaine was fired from Metallica. They have released 15 studio albums to date, and have gone through many lineup changes, with Dave more.

Guess I'll vote Megadeth, but where on God's green earth is Opeth?

HOW IS THIS SO FAR DOWN? listen to Holy wars.

Metallica and Pantera are also good, but when it comes to riffs, Mustaine is the god. Some highlights:
Wake Up Dead
The Conjuring
Peace Sells
In My Darkest Hour
Holy Wars... the Punishment Due
Hangar 18
Five Magics
Poison Was The Cure
Tornado of Souls
Dawn Patrol (Ellefson)
Skin O' My Teeth
Symphony of Destruction
Reckoning Day
A Tout Le Monde
She Wolf
Blackmail the Universe
Kick the Chair
The Scorpion
Back in the Day
Truth Be Told
Dialectic Chaos
This Day We Fight!
Never Dead
New World Order
The Threat Is Real
Fatal Illusion
Poisonous Shadows

So Megadeth are my top 1. Rest of the list is for me:
2. Pantera
3. Metallica
4. Iron Maiden
5. Slayer (I don't like them in general, but their riffs are awesome)
6. Rage Against The Machine
7. Annihilator
8. Black Sabbath
9. Judas Priest
10. Avenged ...more

9 Annihilator Annihilator Annihilator is a Canadian thrash metal band founded in 1984 by vocalist, guitarist, bassist, songwriter, engineer, producer, mixer and mastering engineer Jeff Waters and former vocalist John Bates.

Their songs are riff fests and they are #1 for me (alongside Pantera).

Guitar work is their prime - very fast and technical yet melodic riffs. Jeff Waters writes thrash riffs with lots of progressive elements and I love this.
Schizos (Are Never Alone), Phantasmagoria, The Trend, Alison Hell, Human Insecticide, 21, Imperiled Eyes, Sixes and Sevens, King of the Kill, Ultra-Motion. - Metal_Treasure

10 Lamb of God Lamb of God Lamb of God is an American heavy metal band from Richmond, Virginia. Formed in 1994, the group consists of vocalist Randy Blythe, guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, bassist John Campbell, and drummer Chris Adler.

Not any other band makes me headbang like LOG, maybe Slipknot but they are not as much as focused on riffs like LOG. Not to mention that they one of the best drummers so his presence increases the quality of the riffs since the guitarists must stand up to him.

These guys should be way higher. Not comparing metal styles, riffing styles, but music as a whole. This guys craft riffs better than most band solos

The Contenders

11 Amon Amarth Amon Amarth Amon Amarth is a Swedish melodic death metal band from Tumba, formed in 1992. The band takes its name from the Sindarin name of Mount Doom.

I listen to these guys namely for their riffs.
The Pursuit Of Vikings, Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags, Guardians Of Asgaard - Metal_Treasure

12 Cannibal Corpse Cannibal Corpse Cannibal Corpse is a American death metal band from Buffalo, New York, formed in 1988. The band is known for their graphic album covers, explicitly violent lyrics and song titles like "I C** Blood" The group got into mainstream after performing the song "Hammer Smashed Face" in the 1994 film Ace Ventura: more.

I'm sorry, but really low guitar messes don't count as riffs. - AngryByrd

Amazing dm

13 The Sword

They play that old school stoner metal, and just like other old school bands, they have awesome riffs - ryanrimmel

14 Savatage Savatage Savatage is an American heavy metal band founded by the brothers Jon and Criss Oliva in 1978 at Astro Skate in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

An underrated band with great riffs (R.I.P. Criss Oliva):

Hall Of The Mountain King, Sirens, Scream Murder, Jesus Saves, Gutter Ballet. - Metal_Treasure

15 Primal Fear Primal Fear Primal Fear are a German metal band formed in 1997 by Ralf Scheepers and Mat Sinner. They play heavy metal, power metal and speed metal. Primal Fear remind of Judas Priest but Primal Fear are faster and heavier. They use twin (dual) lead guitars. Ralf Scheepers voice reminds of Rob Halford.

They have different types of riffs and I love the variety they offer.
All For One, Road to Asylum, Strike, Diabolus, Blood on your hands. - Metal_Treasure

16 Judas Priest Judas Priest Judas Priest are a British heavy metal band that formed in Birmingham, England, in 1969. They are often referred to as one of the greatest metal bands of all time, and are even commonly called “The Metal Gods”, after one of the songs on their 1980 album “British Steel”. more.
17 Gojira Gojira Gojira is a progressive metal band from Bayonne, France. The band was known as Godzilla until 2001. Gojira is composed of Joe Duplantier on vocals and rhythm guitar, his brother Mario Duplantier on drums, Christian Andreu on lead guitar, and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass.
18 Death Death Death was an American death metal band formed in 1983 by Chuck Schuldiner. Death is considered to be one of the most influential bands in heavy metal and a pioneering force in death metal. Its debut album, Scream Bloody Gore, has been widely regarded as the first death metal record, while the band's more.
19 Bloodbath Bloodbath Bloodbath is a Swedish death metal supergroup from Stockholm, formed in 1998. The band has released four full-length albums, two EPs and two DVDs depicting their performances at Wacken Open Air and Bloodstock Open Air.
20 Parkway Drive Parkway Drive Parkway Drive is an Australian metalcore band from Byron Bay, New South Wales, formed in 2003. As of 2015, Parkway Drive has released five full-length albums, one EP, two DVDs, a split album and one book, titled Ten Years of Parkway Drive.
21 Rammstein Rammstein Rammstein is a German Neue Deutsche Härte and Industrial Metal band consisting of Till Lindemann (vocals), Richard Kruspe (guitar), Paul Landers (guitar), Oliver Riedel (electric bass), Christoph Schneider (drums) and Christian Lorenz (keyboard), that formed in 1994 in Berlin . more.
22 Linkin Park Linkin Park Linkin Park is an American rock band formed in Agoura Hills, California, in 1996. The members currently include Mike Shinoda (vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar), Brad Delson (guitar), Dave "Phoenix" Farrell (bass), Joe Hahn (DJ) and Rob Bourdon (drums). Linkin Park are associated with a mixture of Alternative more.
23 Overkill Overkill Overkill is an American thrash metal band, formed in 1980 in New Jersey. They have gone through many line-up changes, with singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth and bassist D.D.
24 Exodus Exodus Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1979 in Richmond, California. Spanning a career of 37 years, Exodus has gone through numerous lineup changes, two extended hiatuses, and the deaths of two former band members.

Gary Holt is the master of thrash metal riffing

25 Immolation Immolation
26 Anthrax Anthrax Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker.
27 Candlemass Candlemass Candlemass is an influential Swedish doom metal band established in Stockholm 1984 by bassist, songwriter and bandleader Leif Edling and drummer Matz Ekström.

Every record and vocalist they've had has killed it. Each riff in every song is solid gold

28 Machine Head Machine Head Machine Head is an American heavy metal band from Oakland, California. Formed on October 12, 1991, the group was founded by vocalist and guitarist Robb Flynn and bassist Adam Duce. They have received great critical success especially for their album "The Blackening" which is considered a modern metal more.
29 Budgie Budgie Budgie are a Welsh rock band from Cardiff. They are described by author Garry Sharpe-Young as one of the earliest heavy metal bands and a seminal influence to many acts of that scene, with fast, heavy rock (an influence on the new wave of British heavy metal being played as early as 1971. The band has more.

Best riffs and covered by many

30 System of a Down System of a Down System of a Down formed in 1994 as an Armenian-American Nu Metal group from Glendale, California . The band name is sometimes shortened to System or SOAD. more.
31 Meshuggah Meshuggah Meshuggah is a Swedish progressive metal band from Umeå, formed in 1987. They are often considered the fathers or founders of the djent metal sub genre due to their use of downtuned guitars. They are also known for their song “Bleed”, which is known for its extremely complicated instrumentation, more.
32 Iced Earth Iced Earth Iced Earth is an American heavy metal band from Tampa, Florida. It was formed in 1985 under the name Purgatory by guitarist and main songwriter Jon Schaffer and original drummer Greg Seymour.
33 Ghost Ghost Ghost is a Swedish heavy metal band that was formed in Linköping in 2008. Ghost consists of 5 masked instrumentalists, known as The Nameless Ghouls, and a demonic anti-pope known as Papa Emeritus. They have released 4 studio albums, 1 live album and 2 EPs. Each album brings in a new version of Papa more.
34 Avenged Sevenfold Avenged Sevenfold Avenged Sevenfold is an American alternative metal band, that was formed 1999 in California. Their longest lineup of members was M. Shadows (Vocals), Synyster Gates (Lead Guitar), Zacky Vengeance (Rhythm Guitar), Johnny Christ (Bass Guitar), and The Rev (Drums). more.

How do these guys get left off of a riff list?

35 Bolt Thrower Bolt Thrower Bolt Thrower are a British death metal band from Coventry, England. They formed in 1986 and released their first album with Vinyl Solution in 1988. The band then shifted to a new record label, Earache Records, soon becoming one of the best selling bands on that label.
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List Stats

100 votes
35 listings
4 years, 66 days old

Top Remixes (4)

1. Pantera
2. Slayer
3. Iron Maiden
1. Annihilator
2. Pantera
3. Metallica
1. Black Sabbath
2. Pantera
3. Slayer

View All 4

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