Riff Of The Week: Atypical Edition


Odd riffs for odd people.

Last week we went globetrotting in our Where In The World Edition of RotW. Voting was spread petty evenly between three or four distinct strata: shitholes, dumps, meh whatever, and Baltimore. The only conclusion I could extrapolate from this data was that everyone is wrong in their own special way.

This week we asked for Atypical Riffs. Riffs you wouldn’t expect from a band based on their usual sound. Some of you opted for the easy path and selected from bands whose back catalogue and general style is as eclectic as your hypochondriac Aunt’s collection of half-empty off-brand long-expired medication. Still, there were some good submissions sent in for you to choose from, so get to it.

Anata – ‘The Conductor’s Departure’ (Riff @ 0:43)

Yeah, Anata’s “The Conductor’s Departure” is pretty much low hanging fruit for this week’s theme. Sorry for that. Nevertheless, love ’em melting up- and downlifting riffs at 0:43, 1:18 and 2:57 marks.

Positronic Brain
Anthrax – “Bare” (Riff @ 4:30)

As a young lad in ’95, I really liked Stomp 442, including this sick ballad. But when the gross distortion kicks in and they do this lazy strummy shit grunge riff, I honestly assumed they intended “Bare” to be another jokey ballad like “N.F.B. (Dallabnikufesin).” In fact, around that time I came across Charlie Benante’s email address somewhere on the nascent internet, and I tactlessly asked him two things: 1) why did you guys turn ‘Bare’ into a joke song at the end, and 2) can you tell me what the chords are for the rest of the song? His reply? “Go ask a guitar pro.” 🙁

Mastodon – ‘The Last Baron’ (Riff @ 8:20)

Right here at this riff, we find a departure of Mastodons typical stoner/sabbath/matt pike style riffing but this riff features a bunch of other techniques not utilized in earlier recordings. there is a pulloff and some string skipping and harmonics. This was a standout riff on the album although there was plenty of similar techniques used in the album, i think this is one riff that combines all those new elements.

Mariah Carey – ‘Always Be My Baby’ (Riff @ 0:26)

Mariah Carey’s groundbreaking work in the nineties may be best known for her saccharine-sweet hooks and inventive tone in Christmas Carols, but few can deny the power of the vocal riff in “Always Be My Baby.” It’s unlike her typical soul/R&B-lite fare, and it’s the reason this single still lingers in the nation’s collective consciousness today. Now sing that riff with me. “Doo doo doo, dohn! Doo doo DOOT doot doot doo dohn!”

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper
Faith No More – ‘Evidence’ (Riff @ 0:22)

I was originally going to pick the opening riff from Motorcycle Emptiness by Manic Street Preachers, but I realized that 2 riffs by non-metal bands in a row would be shitty, so I decided against it (it is an amazing song tho, so I encourage you to listen to it). Instead I picked one from Faith No More, my favorite band ever. Now, King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime is one strange fucking album (note: it’s also my favorite Faith No More album and it’s in my top 5 albums of all time) but that should be par for the course for FNM. What isn’t par for the course for Faith No More is a goddamn jazz-soul song. What isn’t surprising is that it’s an amazing song, that’s also par for the course for Faith No More. There are many awesome riffs in this song, but the bassline in the verses is where it’s at.

Brutal Truth – ‘Godplayer’ (Riff @ 1:53)

Song starts, dirty bass line, screeching guitar, nice heavy riff, a guy growling and shrieking, then fast part, its all well and good, its the grindcore you were expecting, then at 1:53… What the fuck? Did John Fogerty sneaked into the studio while the band were resting their phalanges a little and laid down a sweet Southern rock lick before the band came back with tremolo picking? That was fucking awesome.

Tremonti – ‘Radical Change’ (Riff @ 0:55)

a lot of people forget that the godawful rock band Creed was actually comprised of a couple of competent musicians thrown into the mix. Mark Tremonti knows how to fucking play. he does some honestly pretty unremarkable hard rock but it is very listenable. he usually shines when he diverges in your typical song structure and decides to go nuts on his guitar. In his song, “Radical Change” about a minute in the song takes a…radical change. *badum-tsss* the riffage starts technically at 55 seconds in, but I would recommend listening to the song from the beginning to get the full effect. if you don’t wanna do that, I’ll give you a decent enough chunk to listen to and timestamp it at 35 seconds

Unanimated – ‘Fire Storm’ (Riff @ 0:52)

For a band whose repertoire consisted of the highest quality fast and furious melodic death metal ever penned, these somewhat unsung Swedish legends composed one of the catchiest lighter-lifting trad-metal riffs you’ll ever hear.

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Next week we’re honouring tradition. Send in your fave trad metal riffs. Submission details below.

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