MSD & Friends’ RIFF OF THE WEEK 9/13/14


Toilet, meet Riff.

Get a load of this big purple bastard. I don’t understand how this isn’t seriously traumatic for children. Still, the creep makes a good point in which we might find solidarity: RIFF IS FAMILY. And just like Barney, we explore our weird and deeply confusing (and doubtlessly inappropriate) relationship with it every single week, by force, whether it likes it or not.

Last week, W. barely edged me out with his pick and my panties bunched accordingly. So congratulations on your victory, you big ass.


The good news for all aspiring dignitaries is that a ToH Riff Overlord’s elected term is exactly one week. Today the polls are opening again and your big shot at making a real, significant change in the world is finally within reach. May the best riff beat all of the other ones in combat.


Masterlord SteelDragon

Here’s one from one of last year’s very best black metal releases. The muddier-than-actual-mud guitar tone and spoken word that kick off at around 4:39 lead into one of the most nefarious moments in the entire genre. When the drums finally kick in and “Mark of the Devil” holds out his unprecedentedly harrowing howl, you void your bowels, then your guts, then your soul.


Lady SteelDragon

The first riff from the new Orange Goblin song makes me want to headbang. And ride a motorcycle. Don’t tell husband.


Joe Thrashnkill

I’m pulling out the big guns. If you’ve somehow missed the many occasions I’ve publicly drooled all over this split, I’m doing it again. Every riff here is more headbang-worthy than the last, but I pick the riff on “Pulverizer” that hits at 0:36 seconds. If this does nothing for you, your primal instincts are DEAD.



Earning the Riff of the Week Championship Belt last week was an even bigger honor than being elected President, and this time I didn’t even have to rig the counts! However, I knew I’d really need to pull out all the stops to win a second term, so here it is. This week I’ve chosen “Antioxidant” by Soilent Green. This whole song is more full of sweet riffs than Washington is with vipers and lickspittles, but that riff starting at 1:23 that picks up the bass groove is an absolute crowd pleaser sure to win over hearts and minds.


Leif Beariskon

This is definitely the best riff of 2014. It’s warped, trippy, crushing and catchy as all fuck.



The riff that kicks of Extol’s “Of Light and Shade” has always the perfect mix of odd-time flavorings and straight ahead smashy groove. The urge to headbang is irresistible, but you’ve got to be on your toes. You’ll never run out of awesome riffs as you work through Extol’s discography, so quit being a poser and listen to them.


Howard Dean:

As soon as you hit play, it’s upon you. The very first riff from the very first song on the very first Taake full length. Metal perfection. Known more for his excellent vocals and imposing stage presence, Hoest is an underrated and overlooked master of the black metal riff. And for a bonus, stick around until about the 1:00 mark to hear clean singing in Norwegian!



Thank you KSOFM for making me listen to Dissection’s Storm of the Light’s Bane finally. This album is a fucking riff index! The first two riffs in the song “Thorns of Crimson Death” are just chilling and cold. Really every riff in this song is good but those first two just give me shivers.


Cybernetic Organism:

I learned about Teethgrinder from a fellow flushketeer and haven’t been able to get this menacing riff out of my head for days. Makes hunting Sarah Connor so much better.


365 Days of Horror

Starts at 0:12. Simple riff with a lot of groove and good for headbanging. Plus it was used in the soundtrack for Road Rash.


Pagliacci is Kvlt:

This song has a handful of outstanding riffs, including one layered on top of another (starting at 5:39). This is Neurosis doing what Neurosis does best: repetition/drone to create tension and release. For the sake of picking one to be the best though, I’ll go with the riff that begins at 4:10, after the lyrics have ended, dividing the song into two relatively different parts. It provides the base for the mournful riff that starts at 5:39. These two riffs devolve and break down for a short period at ~6:24, but then return at 7:54 with a surging swell, building up to the enigmatic, abrupt end of the song that I imagine convinced most people (like me) hearing this song for the first time that something in their stereo system was malfunctioning badly. The lyrics of this song are, I believe, intentionally vague. But the beauty of vague lyrics is that they are left wide open to interpretation by the listener. For my personal interpretation, many of the lyric phrases struck painful chords, reminding me of my brother’s struggle with opiate addiction. Even the second (instrumental) half of the song seemed to fit his narrative. Those riffs building like I imagine his final injection of heroin felt. Ecstatic at first, then numbing, then a breaking down, a sensation that something is wrong. The numbness then masks the pain as respiration and heart rate slows and muscles spasm and convulse, but does it numb the mind or did he feel the (rivers of) fear as he fully recognized (being a nurse) the symptoms of his own demise? And then, just like the end of the song, the abrupt breaking down and sudden end. Hopefully your interpretation is a brighter one.



Slow and steady wins the race sometimes. This riff works well with a little herbal essence, but also without. At the 7:50 mark it starts to kick off, then continues to do so for a very long time.


Jack Bauer:

After seeing them live last night, the riff that starts at 2:26 absolutely destroys.


Rho Stone:

I wrote a review of this album but it’s probably never going to be approved because it’s two paragraphs of me jizzing on the beautiful riffs this band makes. Might as well nominate it for riff of the week.


Cock of Steele:

Starting at 1:10, this was hard because this entire album is packed full of awesome riffs, but it’s hard not to get this one out of your head. Like trudging through miles of sludge in a hot desert-like place.



Okay, this one is kind of a two-fer. The haunting melodies of Paul Kott and Andy Christ’s dual guitars always get me, but around 1:18 on this track I start to feel like I’m having an out of body experience, and by the time I get to 2:04 I’m pretty much astral projecting across the universe. (It might have something to do with the fact that this is the one song Matt Pike lays down some guitar on as well, instead of just doing vocals like the rest of the album.)


Cockypock Aioli

I know it is ‘riff’ of the week, but between the verse, chorus and breakdown riffs, I honestly don’t know which rips my face off the hardest. The song’s siren sounds (aside from the lyrics) are a relevant motif because the searing sharp rock of this song will leave you hopelessly bleeding out. The verse riff is funky and makes you wanna shake your money-maker, the chorus is catchy enough to sing along to, and the breakdown is not only heavy as shit but also serial-killingly stabby. Nils has a lot of genius work but he really nailed it on this one. (Verse riff starts right away, taste of chorus at 1:25 and breakdown at 3:14)



Check out 1:42 to hear a breakdown that doesn’t suck.


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