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10 Greatest Riff Lords in Hard Rock + Metal

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As rock and metal fans, we bow down at the altar of the almighty riff! These are our picks for the Greatest Riff Lords of all time!

One simply can’t speak about riffs without mentioning Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. As the greatest riff machine in electric guitar history, Iommi has written dozens of metal’s most legendary, impactful and unforgettable riffs. Though Iommi’s right hand of doom consists of two partially missing fingers, his mastery of the riff is unmatched, so kneel, peasants! You’re not worthy!

In the world of thrash, the riff is king along with the guitar solo, and though axe masters like James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine are all-time greats, Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman created, in our opinion, the greatest collection of thrash riffs ever! “Raining Blood,” “War Ensemble” and “Dead Skin Mask” only scratch the surface of Hanneman’s many immortal formulations.

For 21st century metal, no guitarist wields a heavier hand than Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher. He’s been shoveling riffs to the people for 17 years with Mastodon, concocting massive leads on “Black Tongue,” “Iron Tusk” and our pick for the 2000s’ greatest metal riff, “Blood and Thunder.”

Check out the 10 Greatest Riff Lords in Rock + Metal above!

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