Best Metal Riffmasters

The Top Ten

1 Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) Anthony Frank "Tony" Iommi is an English guitarist, songwriter and producer. Best known as lead guitarist and founding member of the pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath, he has been the band's sole continual member and primary composer. At age 17, he accidentally lost the fingertips of his middle more.

His solos might not be the best, but his riff is legend

I have a soft spot for this guy - he's not the fastest or most technical guitarist but I like his riffs.
It's really sad that Ozzy always gets more credits than Tony, provided that Tony is the master musician in this band. Ozzy is more of a showman than musician after all. - Metal_Treasure

2 Jeff Hanneman (Slayer) Jeffrey John "Jeff" Hanneman was an American musician, best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer.

His just as good at solos to by the way.

3 Dimebag Darrell (Pantera) Darrell Lance Abbott, also known as Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell, was an American guitarist and songwriter best known as a founding member of two bands, Pantera and Damageplan, alongside his brother, Vinnie Paul. Abbott died in 2004 after he was shot by a mentally unstable fan.

There just isn't anyone on the planet earth that can come even a little bit close to this master of guitar.

Clear #1 winner!

We love you Dimebag!

Nobody comes close to this riffmaster

4 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.

Metallica would be nothing without his riffs. - Metal_Treasure

5 Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow) Richard Hugh "Ritchie" Blackmore is an English guitarist and songwriter, best known for his work in the hard rock/metal bands Deep Purple and Rainbow. He was ranked number 16 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time" in 2004, and number 50 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the more.

Not necessarily the heaviest riffs (no thrash, death metal) but the most unique ones. His riffs are also written with incredible inspiration and performed with unmatched passion.
He always finds the best way to communicate the mood of the song - he even used Arabic scales for the songs Stargazer (a song about Egypt) and Gates of Babylon to create that mystic oriental feel. - Metal_Treasure

6 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.
7 Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot) Randall William "Randy" Rhoads was an American heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. He was killed in a plane crash.

He's more solo-y than riffy. - SoldierOfFortune

8 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.

Very talented - can listen to his riffs any time. - Metal_Treasure

Complex, fast and melodic riffs. He's very accurate, including live. Flawless switches rhythm / lead.
Alison Hell is their most popular song and the riffs are awesome.
Schizos (Are Never Alone) Part I & II is a riff fest - an almost instrumental piece composed of crazy fast riffs.
I also love the riffs of: Human Insecticide, Phantasmagoria, Imperiled Eyes, Ultra-Motion, Sixes and Sevens, The Trend, King of the Kill.

YouTube this live version, performed 20 years after its studio version and you will get everything:
Annihilator | Phantasmagoria | Live At Masters Of Rock DVD anniafan - Metal_Treasure

9 Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest) Glenn Raymond Tipton is an English Grammy Award-winning guitar player and songwriter. He is most commonly known as the lead guitarist for English heavy metal band Judas Priest.
10 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".

The King Of Gallops.
I do love his tight, galloping, thrashy and thundering riffs, yet melodic.
He's one the most accurate rhythm guitar players out there, even live. Terribly underrated. I would compare him with James Hetfield. - Metal_Treasure

The Contenders

11 Chuck Schuldiner 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.
12 Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society, Ozzy Osbourne) Zakk Wylde is an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor who is best known as the former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, and founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society.
13 Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) David Michael Murray is an English guitarist and songwriter best known as one of the earliest members of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden.
14 Terrance Hobbs
15 Karl Sanders Karl Sanders is an American musician, most widely known as the founding member of the American ancient Egyptian-themed technical death metal band Nile.
16 Trey Azagthoth
17 Angus Young Angus McKinnon Young is an Australian guitarist of Scottish origin, best known as the co-founder, lead guitarist, songwriter and sole constant member of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC. When performing live he does his own version of Chuck Berry's "duck walk" and has also spun on his side while more.
18 Eddie Van Halen Edward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen is a Dutch-American musician, songwriter and producer. He is best known as the lead guitarist, occasional keyboardist and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen.
19 Jon Levasseur
20 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.
21 Brian Hoffman (Deicide)
22 Eric Hoffman
23 John McEntee (Incantation)
24 Abbath Doom Occulta Olve Eikemo, better known by his stage name Abbath Doom Occulta, is a Norwegian musician who best known as the former frontman of black metal band Immortal and the current frontman of the band Abbath.
25 Jerry Cantrell Jerry Fulton Cantrell Jr. is an American musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist best known as the founder, lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and main songwriter of the rock band Alice in Chains.

I like all his riffs. - Userguy44

26 Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, ex-Helloween) Kai Michael Hansen is a heavy metal guitarist and vocalist. Hansen is the founder, lead guitarist, and vocalist of power metal band Gamma Ray. He is also the co-founder and former member of German metal band Helloween.
27 Gary Holt (Exodus, Slayer) Gary Wayne Holt is an American guitarist from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a guitarist, the bandleader, and the main songwriter for the American thrash metal band Exodus and is also a guitarist for the American thrash metal band Slayer.
28 Michael Amott (Arch Enemy, Spiritual Beggars, Carcass) Michael Amott is a British-born Swedish guitarist, songwriter, founding member of the bands Arch Enemy, Spiritual Beggars, and Carnage, as well as a former member of the grindcore band Carcass.
29 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.
30 Kerry King Kerry Ray King is an American musician, best known as a guitarist for the American thrash metal band Slayer.
31 Bill Steer Bill Steer is a British guitar player, and co-founder of the extreme metal band Carcass. He is considered a pioneer and an essential contributor to grindcore and death metal due to his involvement in Napalm Death and Carcass, two of the most important bands of those genres.
32 Mille Petrozza 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.
33 John Gallagher John Gallagher is an American singer and musician mostly known as the the lead guitarist and vocalist of the band Dying Fetus.
34 Vogg (Decapitated)
35 Bill Kelliher Bill Kelliher is a musician from Atlanta, Georgia, best known as rhythm guitarist of heavy metal band Mastodon.
36 Robert Vigna (Immolation)
37 Doug Cerrito
38 Chris Reifert
39 Luc Lemay
40 Diego Sanchez
41 Barry Thompson
42 Gavin Ward
43 Roger Beaujard (Mortician)
44 Erik Lindmark
45 Brian Wynn
46 Lars Johansson
47 Steve Clark Stephen Maynard Clark was an English musician. He was the lead guitarist and principal songwriter for the British hard rock band, Def Leppard, until 1991, when he died from alcohol poisoning.

One of the best Riftmasters ever

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