Riff ov the Week: Album Openers


Album-opening riffs really tickle your pickles, don’t they? I got like 40 submissions from you guys this week. Unfortunately, I’m only using the first 15. Is it because I’m a bad man? Or is it because I’m swamped and that’s simply all I have time for? You decide.

Good ol’ W. joked that Deafhaven would win if someone submitted them this week. I assured him that the only thing Deafhaven will win under my stewardship is the award for “Fastest Email Sent to the Trash Bin and Lied About Having Come In Too Late”, which I’m having Link draw up in Microsoft Paint as we speak. Taking that trophy from JJD isn’t easy, but a Deafhaven submission might just do the trick.

Last weekEllipsis just barely edged out Lacertilian in a battle between Black Sabbath and Acid Bath. The people have spoken. Congratulations to the nervous awkward silence.


Next week:

  • W. has an idea. Here it is in his own words: Look, we all prostrate ourselves to the riff on a regular basis, but sometimes simple riffs just can’t impart the same feeling as a string of notes with the right background noise. Sometimes we need sustain and feedback to build tension. Sometimes we need synths and choral work to bring them feels. Sometimes we need more than just the riff. This next contest is a measure of the best use of atmosphere in a metal song to create a tone.
  • Send your atmosphericisms to toiletovhellriff@gmail.com. Include a Youtube link, the time of the riff, your name, and an explanation for why you picked something so shitty.
  • If you have an idea for a theme, let me know.



Hellfire’s Dominion has my favorite opener of all time. A simple riff, but one that so perfectly manages to channel the bleak, medieval spirit over which Desaster had such a mastery. This exact riff should kick off every album ever.


Shrimp in a Pizza Box / Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

Shrimp: I Immediately thought of this riff the second I saw the theme. There is also a sped-up version of the riff towards the end of the song, but the one at the start is definitely one of my top 5 riffs of all time.

Formerly: No justification needed, everyone and their mum knows how good an opening riff it is, infact its so good around 3 minutes of the song is built around it (yes I counted). Just a perfect opening to an awesome album.


Something Something Richter

There’s a sample of some guy saying something about how humans are all lazy and doomed, etc, and then the riff kicks off at 0:36. To get the full effect, I recommend listening to the entire longwinded sample and letting the riff startle you out of your lazy, doomed, depressive torpor.


Zeke… or Isaac; whatever

This riff is sick and it keeps twisting and mutating over the first part of the song. A great beginning for a great album.


Howard Dean

This was the hardest week yet for me to come to a decision. I immediately had about 50 ideas in mind. My mind first went to the opening riffs of Crimson by Edge of Sanity, Judeobeast Assassination by Grand Belial’s Key, Destroy the Opposition by Dying Fetus (one of the best meathead/beatdown riffs ever), and Transcendence Into The Peripheral by Disembowelment. All great riffs, all great openers to awesome albums. So what did I go with? How would I top those? AKERCOCKE. The opening riff to Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone, a motherfucker of a headbanger that offers perfect passage into one of the best extreme metal albums ever made. Press play on this beast.


Lobster Attack

We’re just puttering along, listening to Richard Christy do his thing, and then BOOM – Oh, hi! Chuck’s back! Time to shred. PS – Death should get all the votes by default, because Death.


The Redman

I’ve always considered Adagio being power metal for people who dislike power metal, especially on their monster of an album Archangels In Black. They pick the best parts of various genres and create a melting pot of power metal, melodic death metal, and thrash. Layer it under Christian Palin’s soaring vocals (and the occasional growl) and you have a recipe for a catchy AF progressive power merol album. The Riff starts off at the very beginning and accompanies the song on the outro as well. Enjoy!


Nordling Rites ov Karhu

I figured there was gonna be a lot of OSDM or thrash riffs here, so I figured I’d play that game too. This is good and catchy as in memorable.



One of metal’s most unforgettable melodies perfectly sets the tone for one of metal’s most unforgettable records.


Jack Bauer

This is one of my favorite intros of any album ever from one of my favorite albums of this year so far. Melechesh start Enki off with a fucking bang and don’t let up for the rest of the album. THIS is how you do an epic start to an album. I love love love that riff.


Ron Deuce

The opening riff to Acid Bath’s “Paegan Love Song” of off Paegan Terrorism Tactics is so damn good that they keep going back to it repeatedly. By the time they’ve abandoned it, you buried waist deep in the nastiest sludge spewed from a NOLA sewer.



This opening riff of …And Justice for All could not be any heavier. Combined with the verse riff that is equal parts earth shattering and catchy, this album opener is at the top of several essential openers from Metallica. Riff starts at :36 in this Live Shit version.


Poseur Disposeur

Snakes for the Divine is the ultimate album intro/opening riff in all of metal history. It is the audio equivalent of an ax falling down on a poser’s neck, of a cavalry charge down a blackened hill into a helpless village, of finishing off the last drink of Steel Reserve and then throwing the bottle at a cop car, or really anything even remotely associated with being metal.


Huggy Bear OH YEAH

2014’s Echoes and Cinders is tits, 2012’s Into the Dark is titser, 2010’s The Grim Awakening is 42 minutes of pure unfuckwithabilitisiveness. I don’t know if they are known around this here Toilet, but I feel they could never be known and headbanged to enough [It’s actually “headbung”Masterlord].


Simon Phoenix

A riff that opens an album, eh? My first instinct was to go with Dark Age by Vader. But that is technically not the first thing you hear on that record. So instead enjoy this skull crushing riff from these underrated Canadian death-thrashers. Simon says bring on the syrup and the sledgehammer.


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