Riff Of The Week: Prog Edition
Before we get to noodlin’, let’s take a look at the results from last week’s Instrumental Edition. Seems a late surge in votes saw the other competitors Succumb to Richter’s riff. And just when you thought he couldn’t be more of an arsehole, he goes and does a thing like this. Well done Richter, you arsehole.
This week we asked for prog riffs, and we got all kinds of nerdy shit. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I’m ratshit tired tonight. We just hosted a first birthday party and I’m way over the legal limit for cake, lollies, and other assorted diabetes-inducing snacks. So as this accursed blood-sugar comedown subsumes my continued existence and I slip into a prolonged catatonic state, I’m gonna bow out early and let you guys get straight to judging these riffs. Don’t forget to use the PROMO CODE RHOMBOID after voting to get your fourth hoof cloven for free at Boris’ Ultimate Ungulate Underground Warehouse.
SiKtH – “Skies Of The Millenium Night” (Riff @ 3:29)
@ 3:29, we are introduced to a stuttering guitar pattern over a restrained blastbeat that, 18 seconds later, blossoms into an impenetrable and overwhelming collage of interweaving melodies and rhythms. It’s so techy and densely composed that it actually becomes beautiful white noise with an effect akin to a Rothko painting.
Mastodon – “The Last Baron” (Riff @ 8:19)
There’s a reason bands like Yes and Rush were so popular despite being so nerdy and musiciany. Fuckin’ SONGS, man. And badass hooks in the midst of all the proggishness. Likewise, “The Last Baron” is really long, it changes tempo and time signature a bunch of times, and evokes “YYZ” around the six minute mark, but then in the middle of all the wankin’ you get cool doodly-doodly riffs like the one at 8:19 that remind you how smart AND fuckin’ cool the ‘don can be when they wanna.
Coroner – “Sirens” (Riff @ 0:53)
My beef with a lot of prog metal (and tech death as well) is that a lot of bands in the genre sacrifice the passion, rawness and energy I’ve come to expect from metal music to make way for wanking. And yes, wanking is often used to cover up the fact that the musicians possess no songwriting abilities. Not Coroner, though. No, the Swiss maestros of prog metal, the Rush of thrash, the former Celtic Frost roadies who could actually play better than them (Tom G. Warrior said so himself), could outwank the wankiest 9-string wankers out there, and also write a catchy banging tune. Pretty much any Coroner song could be used to prove my point, but I’m gonna go with “Sirens” because it was the one that turned me into a die-hard Coroner fan the moment I heard it, and the riff @0:53 because is the one that stuck out the most on first listen.
Nokturnal Mortum – “Valkyrie” (Riff @ 4:00)
Sit back, relax, and get ready for a Ukrainian black metal stalwart to prog the fuck out of you. For real. This track (which is absolutely amazing beginning-to-end, I’ll have you know) transitions from a more straightforward black metal assault to some weirdness around the 3-minute mark. But it isn’t until 4:00 that Nokturnal Mortum goes full prog riff. One minute we’re listening to In the Nightside Eclipse, the next it’s In the Court of the Crimson King.Whoa. The band riffs and jams for the next 3 minutes or so, before returning with a triumphant black metal finish. Sounds like a recipe for audio whiplash, but my fuck does it ever work well. This is a terrific series of riffs and lead lines, with NM channeling a lot of prog and bluesy jam bands. Tracks like this are what keep me listening to metal.
False – “Saturnalia” (Riff @ 7:18)
Each of False’s songs is a journey in itself, a method perfected on Saturnalia. Things slow down to a crawl in the middle of the song but then at the 7:18 mark things begin to pick back up. Not only do they increase the speed of the riffs, it’s positively uplifting! The song’s feeling of hopeless makes a complete 180 and gives indication of light at the end of the tunnel at around 8:00. (I recommend listening to the whole track if you need convincing that this is the winner of RIff ov the Week.)
Lord ov Bork
Opeth – “Face Of Melinda” (Riff @ 4:38)
As satisfying as it would be to pick one of about 100 amazing Rush riffs, I’ll go with the next best low hanging fruit and go with my favorite Opeth song, “Face of Melinda.” Riff starts at 4:38, y’all. It’s deceptively simple and melodic and, unlike some of their less well-written songs, actually carries the tune perfectly through its last section.
[Suppressing Rush riff intensifies]
Disillusion – “Fall” (Riff @ 0:00)
This album is prog metal perfection and also kind of a concept album but I can totally see why you didn’t include it in the bracket cause it obviously would have crushed everything I AIN’T EVEN MAD IT’S ALL GOOD.
Deep breaths. This is almost the first riff that comes to my mind when thinking of this album, closely followed by a wistful sigh.
Between The Buried And Me – “Disease, Injury, Madness” (Riff @ 4:54)
This is definitely one of my favourite BtBam riffs of all time. The bass kicks things off at 4:54, and then everyone gets in on the twisting, slithering action at 5:05. And it wouldn’t be a prog riff without odd, changing, time signatures. It’s the perfect mix of meat and spice.
Next week is our special half-yearly giveaway round. Rules are the same as the first quarter giveaway from March. To enter your riff must come from an album released in 2017 that has been featured on the Toilet ov Hell this year. Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, being sure to include your screen-name and a short description with a time-stamp of when the riff starts along with a link to the Toilet ov Hell article where the review/write-up/coverage can be found.