Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top 7 Huge Riffs (+1)

Coalesce live
I've always been a fan of huge guitar riffs regardless of the genre...rock, hardcore, metal, post-hardcore. If there is a down-tuned guitar (we used to call it "drop-d goodness" back in the day) with any sort of groove...I'm usually into it. I remember when "grunge" broke, and major labels were signing every band that was somewhat heavy. This signing binge included great bands like Helmet (who had already released music on Amphetamine Reptile) and Quicksand (who had done an EP for Revelation Records)...bands that took the art of riff writing to a higher level. These were bands that sounded nothing like what was happening in Seattle, and they were more akin to the hardcore bands I'd been eating up in the early 90's. Helmet, Quicksand, Rage Against The Machine, Shift, Burn...these were all bands that I got into in the 90's...and these bands were able to write monstrous guitar riffs...riffs that were focused more on the groove, and less on guitar "shred". Since then I've been a sucker for a band that could write a good this is my amateurish attempt at putting down a list of what I consider to be the best hardcore/post-hardcore riffs.

Before I get to my list I have to make two clarifications: 1) Anything even remotely considered nĂ¼-metal is automatically excluded due to the overwhelming sense of "suck" that most bands in said genre exude (much to your dismay I'm sure). 2) I tried my best to steer away from what I consider "metal". That is a beast entirely unto itself...and my minimal amount of brain activity couldn't sort through which At The Gates song I would have to exclude (which is quite a chore seeing as though every song on "Slaughter Of The Soul" is awesome).

So here it short list of the best hardcore/post-hardcore riffs. Enjoy...

- Quicksand - "Lie And Wait" - lot's of dynamics. This song swells, and the riff is epic. Easily my favorite Quicksand song. Most of my friends will bust me for picking this song over "Land Mind Spring" or something else...but I think this song rocks the hardest.

- Handsome - "Lead Bellied" - One of the most ignored bands of all time...featuring members of Quicksand and The Cro-Mags. This song is's just a shame that only a handful of people bought this when it was released. I consider anyone who owns it my friend, and musical soul-mate.

- The Deftones - "Elite" - The only description I can give this song is "brutal." It's one of the most intense songs I've ever heard. I liken it to having your ears filed off with a power-sander...and enjoying every minute of it.

- Thrice - "Firebreather" - If you looked in the dictionary under "massive" it would have a footnote siting this song as personifying the word. Thrice has always perfectly balanced punk, and hardcore...but this song showcases their knack for dropping one huge riff.

- Helmet - "Smart" - Although I wasn't a huge fan of their "Size Matters" album, this track was everything great about Helmet. It's classic...and the guitar line tops everything else Paige Hamilton released...and that's a tall order considering his catalog of work.

- Coalesce - "What Happens On The Road Always Comes Home" - I've always considered Coalesce a hardcore band...and this song has what I consider their most swinging riff.

- Snapcase - "Harrison Bergeron" - I have always loved Snapcase...and this is, hands down, my favorite song by them. The drums, bass, and guitars work perfectly together to create a gargantuan wall of sound. It was heavy, without the cliched "chugga" riffs that were coming out of the hardcore scene at the time.

- Rage Against The Machine - "Bombtrack" - The first RATM album was chock full of great riffs...and "Bombtrack" is one of the best. It's proof that one guitar, one bass, and drums can create something that has an incredible amount of groove.

Buy these records...thank me later.

Note: The picture above is the mighty Coalesce...blowing away everyone in the audience, and obliterating the stage with their mid-west brand of hardcore insanity.

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