Metal Challenge: The Riff That Would Not Die

Certain musical genres have building blocks that appear over and over in many songs due to their suitability of structure or the affection in which they are held by the artists. Jazz has dozens of standard rhythmic set-up pieces that act as jumping-off points for the soloists, much of the blues involve “waking up this morning”, and there wouldn’t be any sort of jungle or breakbeat without the Amen Break.

Lately I’ve been wondering: does Metal have a standard riff? More than one?  Here’s my initial submission for your perusal – seek out and listen to the following four songs in any order. It’s a painless exercise; they’re all good:

“Two Minutes to Midnight” – Iron Maiden

“The Power and the Glory” – Saxon

“Stand Up and Shout” – Dio

“Heavy Metal Breakdown” – Grave Digger

What do you think? Close enough to count? Discuss amongst yourselves. Feedback, as always, is appreciated, and newer examples or other stylistic coincidences would be a bonus.

3 Responses to “Metal Challenge: The Riff That Would Not Die”

  1. Just heard Airbourne’s Running Wild and Judas Priest’s You Got Another Thing Coming back to back. Dare you to not hear Airbourne in that song and vice versa. 7 note difference, but soooo similar at times.

  2. Excellent comparison, Bone!

    Try this one: The solo from “Phantom of the Opera” on the Live After Death release vs. the middle section of “End of the Line” on Under the Influence.

  3. Tied to the four riffs in the original post i.e. the “2 Minutes Riff”, I just realized that Priest’s “Hammer and the Anvil” is the same one again, just slowed down.

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