Best Metal Rhythm Guitarists

Best rhythm guitarists in the metal genre. The focus here is on good riffs, rhythm harmonies, picking speed, accuracy, and tightness, and overall rhythm playing. Rhythm/lead switches and dual leads are acceptable as long as their rhythm playing is impeccable.

The Top Ten

1 James Hetfield - Metallica James Hetfield - Metallica James Alan Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963. He is an American musician, singer and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica.

Based on metal? Without a doubt it's James! I STILL can't emulate the speed of his down-picking rythym riffs! How the heck he does if during a live show for a few hours is beyond me... My forearm is sore after one song!


2 Dave Mustaine - Megadeth Dave Mustaine - Megadeth David Scott "Dave" Mustaine (born September 13, 1961) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, actor and author. Mustaine is best known as a pioneer in Thrash Metal, being the former lead guitarist of Metallica before his dismissal in 1983, leading to finding and becoming the front man of his own more.
3 Jon Schaffer - Iced Earth Jon Schaffer - Iced Earth Jon Ryan Schaffer is an American heavy metal musician. He is best known as the guitarist and last remaining original member of the Florida-based heavy metal band Iced Earth, which he formed in 1985 under the name "Purgatory".

I say his speed and technically is above hetfield any day. Look at every song before Dark Saga proves it.

Lightning fast galloping riffs!

Hetfield is naff

4 Chuck Schuldiner - Death Chuck Schuldiner - Death Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner (1967-2001) was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known as the founder and vocalist, guitarist and bassist of the American heavy metal band Death. He is considered the most influential figure in Death Metal, with some publications referring to Chuck more.
5 Gary Holt - Exodus Gary Holt - Exodus
6 Jeff Waters - Annihilator Jeff Waters - Annihilator Jeff Waters (born February 13, 1966) is a Canadian metal musician and founder of the metal band Annihilator. He's best known as the guitarist for Annihilator, appreciated for his fast riffs and solos. Waters is also the primary songwriter in the band. Very often he has taken on the role of lead singer, more.

His Lead / Rhythm switches are awesome. He's one of the riff masters of all time. - Metal_Treasure

7 Toni Iommi - Black Sabbath
8 Adrian Smith - Iron Maiden Adrian Smith - Iron Maiden Adrian Frederick "H" Smith is an English guitarist, best known as a member of Iron Maiden, for whom he writes songs and performs live backing vocals on some tracks.
9 Steffen Kummerer Steffen Kummerer Steffen Kummerer (born June 1, 1985) is a German guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and producer. He is the leader, main songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist for the (technical) death metal band Obscura as well as the black metal band Thulcandra.
10 Zacky Vengeance - Avenged Sevenfold Zacky Vengeance - Avenged Sevenfold Zachary James Baker, better known by his stage name Zacky Vengeance, is an American musician, best known as the rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist, and founding member for the American alternative metal/ metalcore band Avenged Sevenfold. Zacky V. also owns a small clothing company, Vengeance University. more.

Zacky just has amazing riffs! I love how his melodies and timing coordinates with Synyster Gate's solos! Plus he can also sing, along with Syn. Especially in City Of Evil. His melodies and riffs are just phenomenal!

The Contenders

11 Bill Kelliher - Mastodon Bill Kelliher - Mastodon Bill Kelliher is a musician from Atlanta, Georgia, best known as rhythm guitarist of heavy metal band Mastodon.
12 Scott Ian - Anthrax Scott Ian - Anthrax Scott Ian is an American musician, best known as the rhythm guitarist, backing and additional lead vocalist, and the only remaining original founding member of the thrash metal band Anthrax. He also writes the lyrics on all their albums.

He has some of the most percussive riffs out there! WARDANCE

13 Marten Hagstrom - Meshuggah Marten Hagstrom - Meshuggah Mårten Hagström, (born 27 April 1971) is the rhythm guitarist for the Swedish experimental metal band Meshuggah. Hagström, along with his bandmate Fredrik Thordendal, was rated #35 by Guitar World as the top 100 greatest heavy metal guitarist of all-time.

The albums obZen and Chaosphere from the technical metal bosses Meshuggah proves that he could do very badass rhythm grooves and deserves to be in this list.

14 K.K. Downing - Judas Priest

Stained class
What more can I say?

15 Eric Peterson - Testament
16 Mille Petrozza - Kreator Mille Petrozza - Kreator Miland "Mille" Petrozza is a German metal guitarist and singer of Italian descent, who has been the lead vocalist and guitarist for the German thrash metal band Kreator since 1984.
17 Sully Erna - Godsmack Sully Erna - Godsmack Salvatore Paul "Sully" Erna is the American vocalist and guitarist for the American hard rock band Godsmack.
18 Kirk Hammett - Metallica Kirk Hammett - Metallica Kirk Lee Hammett is the lead guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Metallica and has been a member of the band since 1983. Before joining Metallica he formed and named the band Exodus.
19 Fredrik Norrman - Katatonia
20 Matt Tuck (Bullet for My Valentine) Matt Tuck (Bullet for My Valentine) Matthew "Matt" Tuck is a Welsh musician. He is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist in the Welsh emo/metalcore band Bullet for My Valentine.
21 Jim Root - Slipknot Jim Root - Slipknot James Donald "Jim" Root, also known by his number #4, is an American musician known for being the rhythm/lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Slipknot, and the former lead guitarist for alternative metal band Stone Sour.
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Related Lists

Top 10 Thrash Metal Rhythm Guitarists Best Rhythm Guitarists Top 10 Guitarists Who Switch Rhythm / Lead Guitar Role on a Regular Basis Top 10 Non-Metal Songs Featuring Galloping Rhythm Best Metal Songs With Galloping Rhythm

List Stats

100 votes
21 listings
5 years, 101 days old

Top Remixes

1. James Hetfield - Metallica
2. Jeff Waters - Annihilator
3. Dave Mustaine - Megadeth
1. James Hetfield - Metallica
2. Jon Schaffer - Iced Earth
3. Dave Mustaine - Megadeth


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