Riff Of The Week: Piano Edition


Zero [±13.4] elephants were harmed for their ivory in the making of this post.

Last week was a HM-2 pedalfest. Vladdy-boy cut the comp into quarters with his Trap Them pick leaving the rest of us to fight for the remaining slices. Which we shared fairly evenly, because WE HAVE MANNERS VLAD.

This week we flipped it to the opposite end of the spectrum and asked for your fave instances of Piano in metal.
Here’s the fancy shit you sent in.

Cryptopsy – ‘Phodophile’ (Riff @ 0:00)

What can I really say about this classic album and song that hasn’t been said yet? The way it goes from ‘soothing’ to ‘sledgehammer’ in one minute will never cease to make my jaw drop!

Amorphis – ‘Sampo’ (Riff @ 2:58)

I was going to nominate this tune simply for the use of piano to announce the primary riff right of the bat, but the piano part from roughly 3 minutes to about (audibly, at least) 4.5 minutes in captivates me every single time I return to the song – which is often given Skyforger is demonstrably my most-played album ever. Any genre.
The whole of Skyforger is like comfort food (finely handcrafted cheese, to be honest, though) without the guilt over raiding the fridge all the time. And Sampo is, arguably, its defining statement.

Sarkrista – ‘He, Who Liveth and Reigneth Forevermore’ (Riff @ 4:25)

I was debating between this and Alldrig’s Melancholy Germ II which I find wonderfully atmospheric. But overall Sarkrista wins out for surprising me upon first listen with not only the beautiful piano outro but also having a great riff preceding it at 1:42. The whole song makes me think its a love song to an ancient deity, a sort of passionate worship to a lost god.

Positronic Brain
Guns N’ Roses – ‘Estranged’ (Riff @ 3:58)

Years ago I recorded a rap album for fun and posted it on a now-deleted bandcamp page. There was one song written in the style of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” with lyrics ABOUT the Wu-Tang Clan, and the first eight notes of this piano section (from an isolated piano track I found) were the RZA-like piano loop.
Also, according to wikipedia the budget for the music video was FOUR MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS.

Iced Earth – ‘The Coming Curse’ (Riff @ 0:00)

How about a truly beautiful piano intro, to lull you into a sense of peace and calm, before crushing you with one of the heaviest riffs of all time? I wanted to find something other than yet ANOTHER Iced Earth entry from me… But how I can I, with this perfect track as an option?

Motörhead – ‘Don’t Waste Your Time’ (Piano @ 0:07)

None of that fancy shit for me, thank you very much. If you’re not hammering that piano I’d much prefer you don’t use one at all. “Bad Woman” would’ve also worked, of course, and probably a couple others, but this one came to mind first.

Howard Dean
Mötley Crüe – “Home Sweet Home” (Smoove Piano @ 0:34)

Did you expect something different? Are you not entertained? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?! IS THIS NOT WHY YOU ARE HERE?! This is the only clear winner in the bunch. Is this the best use of piano in metal? Yes, clearly. If you didn’t vote for this, I hope you have fun tweeting about nerd metal and cartoon porn while stuffed in the bottom of your locker.

Andrey Tkachenko
Yellow Eyes – ‘Streaming From the Undergrowth’ (two piano chords @ 04:12)

There definitely is no shortage of great metal songs with piano parts of all kind: a beautiful melodic interlude, a heavy rumbling in the contra-octave, or just some tasteful background chords to strengthen the mix; all can work wonders when applied skillfully. However, the minute I read this week’s topic I thought of Yellow Eyes. These two sudden dissonant chords are so jarring and disturbing they nearly made me jump the first time I heard them, fitting perfectly with the song’s theme and raising the uneasy mood up to eleven. Interestingly, the piano never appears anywhere else on the album (or maybe it does but I just don’t remember it even after several dozen plays of the album), save for a few notes during the build-up for the part I mentioned – but they are really quiet in the mix and you don’t really hear them unless you know what you’re looking for. On the other hand, it might not be a piano at all; but to my ears it sounds like one. Is it possible? Yes. Do I ramble and digress a lot in my comments? Also yes. Do Yellow Eyes kick ass despite all my excessive yapping? Absolutely.

Enemy Of The Sun
Tiamat – ‘Gaia’ (Riff @ 3:45)

Formerly a first wave Swedeath band (along with Entombed and Carnage), by the time their 1994 masterpiece Wildhoney came out, they were more Genesis and Pink Floyd than metal, but whatever. This song ruled then and it fucking rules now. Sit back and enjoy lush synths, lyrics that teach children to respect our Mother Earth, two sweet Gilmour-esque solos, and a killer piano break around the 4 minute mark

Iron Goddess of Mercy
Thou – “Voices in the Wilderness” (Riff @ 7:32)

At 6:34, one of Thou’s heaviest, most mournful riffs begins. At 7:32, a piano joins in to wring out of you any frustration, animosity, or fear you might be holding on to. By 9:25, it’s just a eulogy to a life and world laid to waste.

Spawn of Possession – ‘Apparition’ (Riff @ 7:48)

This piano bit lurks in the background (0:54 , 2:22) throughout the song. But its at it most evil at the end, when it finally…
Appears, in its true, contorted form. (sorry)

Gorguts – ‘Condemned To Obscurity’ (Keys @ 0:00)

While tossing up whether or not I’d give the nod to Iced Earth’s outro for classic track ‘Travel In Stygian’, I saw tigeraid had already come through with a pick from his boy Jon “Muh Freedumz” Schaffer. So scratch that shit, have a classic intro from Luc “Goodguts” Lemay instead.

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Next week we’re looking for riffs from the 9th track of an album.
Submission details below.

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