Riff ov the Week: The OLD SCHOOL DEATH METAL Edition


What is the best old school death metal riff? We decide in this week’s Riff ov the Week! Cast your lot and seal your fate.

Last week I left a giant upperdecker for the Masterlord to deal with because it was my last week running Riff ov the Week before returning it to him. I declared we would look for the best Rap Metal riff. Waynecro took the crown with his entry of “Zetsou Billy” by Maximum the Hormone. Somehow, you all decided that rap metal is less cringey when delivered by anime characters. Weird.

Next week is Father’s Day so I’m calling upon you to purchase some new socks for your father and send me your finest dad rock riff! What is dad rock? Let me paint you a word picture: Imagine a middle-aged man in white New Balance sneakers, tube socks, jorts, and a bald spot. He’s headed outside to mow the lawn on a warm Summer day. He picks up his trusty Walkman cassette player to blast some jams while he tends to the grass. Perhaps he’s listening to prog rock from the 60s and 70s. Maybe it’s 80s hard rock. Perhaps it’s 90s “alternative” music, if he’s feeling spicy. Find the finest riff for this dad and send it to me at toiletovhellriff@gmail.com. Include your name, a very brief description of your riff, the timestamp of the riff, and a youtube link for the song. If you don’t submit all of those things I will not run your riff. Also, you’ll be sent to bed without any supper, mister.

This week we’re searching for the perfect old school death metal riff. You’ve all submitted your best riffs from the late 80s through the early 90s. Which riff hurdles through the glut of generic death metal to summit mount rifflympus? Let’s find out.


No one submitted Morbid Angel (shame on you!) so here’s a selection from my favorite MA record, Domination.  Start at 0:00.


I may be unable to pronounce this band’s name properly (it’s Nucyular Death, right?), but I can tell you that the wretched fuzzed out riff at 0:07 is pure flaming garbage in the best possible way.


Sweden’s Eructation never got around to releasing a full-length, just a demo or two around 1992. I’d never heard of them prior to noticing that a compilation of their work just came out in April. After hearing this track alone, I decided I needed to get my hands on this shit! No need to skip ahead, riff starts at 0:07.

Elegant Gazing Globe

1989. Riff starts at half of 666 and drags your, rotting corpse through the sewer till the end.




Severely underrated DM band from Toledo. Ohio’s best back in ’94. Riff starts at 2:34, and the groove before that and after is thicker than concrete pig shits after a chili cookoff in Hell.


The riff at 2:59 kicks ass and just oozes that early-1990s-death-metal nastiness.

Ethan Hooper

Prepare to head butt a small child at 1:45

Boss The Ross

Death Metal prior to 1995, says you? Pestilence “Out of the Body”, says I. The song starts with a killer descending riff followed by a sick descending drum roll that leads into a guttural scream from Martin Van Drunen. So far, so good. Following this is a sweet little octave riff serving as a segue back to the main riff. The guitars interplay and ferociously attack the listener, yielding a fast and intricate riff at 2:12 that soon gives way to my pick this week. At 2:28 the listener is pummeled to death.


Despite having an opening narration on damn near every track that sounds like Bon Scott auditioning to be a Heavy Metal villain, this album has a killer opening riff (0:28), classic early 90s scooped guitar tones and some great Giger ripoff artwork. Listen to the whole thing for more riff madness and plenty more examples of those terrible opening narrations which, despite being goofy and out place, have kinda grown on me over the years.

Link Leonhart

This is death metal explained in one song: moody, atmospheric, dark, violent and forged in the depths of hell. This Swedish d-beat assault will crush your soul. Go ahead to 0:13 and prepare your body to be torn apart.


Inb4 “I don’t always listen to death metal, but when I do…” Death Metal is not my forte, but I know what I like, and I fucking like Bolt Thrower. Riffity riff starts at 1:16.

Old Man Doom

The intro riff makes me want to climb into the turret of an Imperial battle tank and mow down hordes of filthy heretics and xenos scum in the name of The Emperor.


Cannibal Corpse don’t get enough love around here.  They’re definitely stale nowadays, but some of their old shit was just savage.  Grind at :33.

Hans Müller

Is it Death Metal enough? Not sure, but that intro riff is weirdly hawt. Simple, but effective.

More Beer

These guys don’t get enough love around here. Riff @ 0:08


Unique band from Netherlands which from its inception to current days still has no rivals, nor followers after their style. In 1994 death metal had fed everyone up to death (pardon the pun), thus many new branches of heavy music arose. Such bands as Cynic, Nocturnus, Phlebotomized, Atheist, Pestilence (“Spheres” — album that everyone hates; for me it’s their best to date) and few others who’ve bet on experimenting with the sound and compositional approach, saved status of pioneers. Their unusual and grossly misunderstood music then became a classic today.

The riff starts at 2:33. Also, don’t skip beautiful intro to the song. I chose this song despite the will to share “Mellow Are The Reverberations” where riffs are simplier and not so catchy but the song due to rich keyboard work doesn’t lag behind this one. If you haven’t listened Phlebotomized before, don’t hesitate.


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