Riff Sammiches: 5 Multi-Riff Masterpieces

Welcome to the first segment in my new “Lists” category. Lists are a tried-and-true method for bloggers to put up some content when they’re a little lean on material. People also like ’em because they’re so flexible and generate discussion. After all, everyone has their own personal lists and they love to compare. I’m hoping y’all are no exception, so here we go:
We’re all here because we love a good guitar riff, and there are many ways to put them together and make songs. Some artists are stingy or minimalists, and keep their riffs sparse within the tune. Others are total riff factories and splash them about liberally. Here are five tunes made better by generous helpings of guitar goodness. And yes, of course there are more out there, probably by Tool and Machine Head, but I did want to keep things under the 9-minute mark:

5. Bolt Thrower – “Contact – Wait Out”. Featuring an unloved and unfairly judged one-off vocal performance from Dave Ingram, Honour – Valour – Pride starts off with a track featuring an entry riff, a mid-song change-up at around 3:20 and an exit riff that eventually blends with the entry. Superb.

4. Arch Enemy – “Enemy Within”. Another album starter, this time built on one of the best intros in the genre and the big debut of Angela Gossow. I always have to listen to this track twice because as beautiful as the solo section is, the rhythm guitar work underneath it is just as interesting.

3. Iron Maiden – “Powerslave” C’mon, where do you think Arch Enemy got the idea? Sure, we all know the big title riff, but the middle section has enough spare six-string in it write at least three more songs. Those were the days, no?

2. Overkill – “Gasoline Dream”. No strangers to riff largesse, Overkill often close out their records with something even more big and epic. Sometime it has to do with their Overkill-themed masterwork, sometimes not. “Gasoline Dream” is one of the stand-alones, filled with speed changes, multiple ideas and a Sabbath-influenced acoustic ending.

1. Black Sabbath – “Symptom of the Universe”. Did someone mention Sabbath? Mad drum fills! Super-stoned bouncy-bass outro! Cybernetic unicorns! Containing something for literally everyone, “Symptom” is like seven songs in one; none of which make sense and all of which are great.

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2 Responses to “Riff Sammiches: 5 Multi-Riff Masterpieces”

  1. This was actually the first Overkill album that I ever purchased. Considering I was from New Jersey and was heavy into the local metal scene back in the early 80’s, I’m not sure what took so long for me to discover them. However, when I did, I couldn’t stop playing them. I spun side two of the vinyl continually as it contained some killer hooks and riffs. “Powersurge”,” In Union”, “Electo-Violence”, “Overkill II” are all classic Overkill tunes that still sound good decades later. “Wrecking Crew,” a vicious thrasher, would become the name of their fan club as well as their web site. ( http://www.wreckingcrew.com ) The lyrics on this disc were still a bit immature, i.e. “Fatal If Swallowed” is a song about oral sex. Fortunately more thought provoking lyrics would come in the future. Still, there is no denying that Overkill’s “Taking Over” is one of the classics of heavy metal. Many regard it as one of the albums that defined thrash metal as a genre.

  2. I’m sure you’re a spambot, but a spambot with some tidy knowledge of Overkill history. All right, you can stay.

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