Riff Of The Week: Grunge Edition


Brought to you today by our friends at Fergus’ Plaid/Tartan Flannel Warehouse – “Make everyday a picnic with upholstery you can wear: No true Scotsman would be caught without some!

Last week we opted for opulence and indulged ourselves with fancy-as-fuck riffs. As it turns out the final count ended up being a tie between Black Crown Initiate and The Devin Townsend Project. However, the most concerning aspect of the results was that the remainder of you voted for the fucking Barenaked Ladies over the actual metal put forward by Richter and I. May you all swiftly perish in a cyclonic miasma of ungulate effluvium. 

This week, as many of our community mourned the death of one of modern rock’s most iconic voices, we decided to focus on a genre we don’t often discuss much here – grunge. And I’ll be damned if we didn’t receive a butt(rock)load of submissions. There’s that many to get through I’m not going to have to awkwardly pad out time to give an introduction for the competition. Be sure to use the PROMO CODE BRAN after voting for your chance to win a bag of assorted O-rings.


Alice In Chains – “God Am” (Riff @ 0:25)

Being a Washington local, I wanted to do my best to show off some of the lesser-knowns of the WA Grunge scene like Gruntruck, Willard, Karp, etcetera, but I knew there was really only one band I knew would end up choosing to submit for ROTW: the one and only Alice in Chains. While some bands had a more happy or standard rock-oriented sound, AIC brought real ugliness and squalor to their songs that left you wanting to cry in a shower after they were over. 0:25 is the perfect riff to get the party cancelled.


Nirvana – “Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter” (Riff @ 0:37)

Witness me in all my plebdom as I submit the fruit that hangeth so low it’s basically a potato. I hope to somewhat redeem myself by at least not going with something off of THAT ALBUM (Breed would have qualified, after all). Great song title, and the riff at 0:37 is a frequent visitor in my head.


Tad – “Jack Pepsi” (Riff @ 0:38)

Since there’s not much variety on this tune, we’ll go with the pre-chorus riff at approx 0:38, just trying to go with a “Grun ge” band that isn’t as well known.


Soundgarden – “Mailman” (Riff @ 0:03)

It would have been wierd to send in anything other than Soundgarden this week, though I’m not going to sob any more than it was a great loss. In regard to the whole “are there any good grunge riffs?” Yes there are, the main riff of Mailman (0:03) and 4th of July of Superunknown both have great doom-esque riffs. I really don’t have a lot to say about the riff as it is simple and sweet.

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper

Alice In Chains – “Dam That River” (Riff @ 0:00)

Is it cheating to submit a riff I’ve already submitted before? Yeah, kinda.
Do I care? Hahahaha, no. This is still the tastiest riff grunge ever conjured up. Its from the very beginning of the song, so it’s pretty hard to miss too.

Lord ov Bork

Pearl Jam – “State Of Love And Trust” (Riff @ 0:00)

To pick a riff for this week, I hopped in my shitty 2002 SUV and threw on one of my embarrassingly numerous grunge mix CDs. “State of Love and Trust,” off the Singles soundtrack, came blaring out first. The riff at 0:00 is a perfect example of why Pearl Jam rocks so damn hard – it’s scratchy, slightly atonal and still melodic, and it gets in your head immediately.


Failure – “Frogs” (Riff @ 0:00)

This might toe the line between grunge and alternative rock, but the riff itself is too good not to share. Starts straight away with a filthy, crusty bass tone driving the introduction along with straining guitar feedback and a solid rock backbeat, before kicking into a dissonant-yet-catchy guitar riff that morphs through the rest of the song’s running time.


L7 – “Pretend We’re Dead” (Riff @ 0:00)

Grunge is pretty riffy in general. Nothing fancy, but very riff oriented. In this tune, the riff starts with the first note.

Howard Dean

Stone Temple Pilots – “Wicked Garden” (Riff @ 0:12)

It’s impossible for me to know what grunge and 90’s alternative rock mean to each of you, and it’s nearly as difficult for me to explain to you what they mean to me. I’ve always had a strange relationship with music of this sort because on the surface I shouldn’t respond to it the way I do. I didn’t fully come of age in their heyday, but the sounds of the era make me nostalgic for a period of time that wasn’t particularly formative, memorable, or even that happy for me. The music reminds me most of the way I was as a youth–hopeful and ripe with dreams and begrudgingly understanding of my circumstances. In the sounds I am reminded of a boy who held unbounded hope in what the years would bring–experiences oblique to those of his own present, and a life outside the mold of his heredity. I had many choices from this album. Tough to choose one. Riff is at 0:12 seconds


Alice In Chains – “All Secrets Known” (Riff @ 0:00)

While this is an outstanding riff all on it’s own, it gets even better with context.  Releasing an Alice in Chains album post-Layne Staley is either ridiculously gutsy or just plain stupid.  Cantrell knew he had to prove right away that it was the former, and boy, did he deliver.  This opening riff of the opening track to AiC’s comeback album is full of dark moodiness and brooding emotion, and I love the rhythmic ambiguity of the riff until the drums kick in with their slow, plodding beat.  Dig it.

Ted Nu-Djent

Soundgarden – “Gun” (Riff @ 0:03)

Grunge goes doom in the opening riff (0.03) of this song. Soundgarden really could bring the riffs back in their earlier days. Chris might be gone but these songs will be around forever.

Lone Biker Of The Apocalypse

Megadeth – “Take No Prisoners” (Riff @ 0:01)

As you can all see, I am a big cheater.  But as you can also see, Google, (the all-wise keeper of all recorded history) states that Megadeth are indeed a grunge band, and just think how much you use and trust Google.  Is Google wrong?  Have we all been fooled as to what true Grunge is?  To my Google-influenced ears, this is an awesome grunge riff!

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Next week we’re looking for riffs from bands/songs you can’t pronounce the fucking name of. You know all those funny letters overseas people use to make pretend words? Ŧĥðşē ŏńë§. Even if the band/song name doesn’t contain any non-English characters but is just ostensibly unpronounceable to you, it qualifies. Don’t pretend you can’t pronounce Bolt Thrower though, you dickhead. To enter simply 

  • Send a link to your chosen riff to toiletovhellriff@gmail.com by Friday
  • Include a time-stamp of when the riff starts and your screen-name
  • Supply a short description of why you chose the riff and maybe how you would attempt to pronounce the name

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