Dimebag Darrell Named Greatest Riff Lord

A poll to find metal's most talented and beloved guitarists put the Pantera man ahead of Tony Iommi and James Hetfield. Who would you include?

Ultimate Guitar

Dimebag Darrell has been named Riff King of the World by Metal Hammer magazine in a poll to find the most talented, iconic and beloved guitarists of all time.

The late Pantera guitarist faced stiff competition from the likes of Metallica's James Hetfield, Black Sabbath's Toni Iommi and Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, but industry experts and musicians ultimately decided that Darrell was the real riff lord.

Journalist Mick Wall discussed why Darrell is so revered in the metal community, describing him as a guitarist so unbelievably good he got banned from entering talent contests as a kid because he kept winning them. A cat so polar-cool he single-handedly took heavy metal in a new direction and influenced countless others to follow him.

"There have been plenty of giant-killing shredders over the years. There have been the most immense soloists. And of course there have been those masters of the metal universe: the riff overlords. The thing about Dimebag Darrell, though, is that he didn't just excel at any one of those things. He could do all of them, not just as well as the next axe-grinder. Not Just better, either. But in a whole new way he invented for himself, for us, forever.

Dimebag Darrell was shot onstage in 2004 while performing with Damageplan. His shooter was killed at the scene.

Who would you include in a list of riff lords? Share your suggestions in the comments.

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    I'm not saying one guitarist is better than the other, but Hetfield of Metallica has written some of the most iconic riffs in all of metal. If we're just talking memorable riffs here and not overall guitar skill, my money's on Hetfield
    Iommi... Mustaine... Wylde... Hannemann... Blackmore... Flynn... Hetfield... I might put down Frehley as well. I'm not a big Kiss fan, but that dude rocks
    Finally someone mentioned Rob Flynn! And aren't you guys forgetting Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith and Dave Murray? Not really no. one, but should be among the top
    My personal riff lord would have to be Jerry Cantrell, but you can never go wrong with Dimebag. Rest in peace, man.
    Jerry Cantrell is probably my favorite riff lord after Tony Iommi... the way he manages to mix melodic, beautiful licks with the most ****ed up, heavy and somber guitar riff just amazes me. Good examples of what I mean are Sludge Factory and Junkhead.
    Yes, glad to see someone mention Cantrell, my personal favorite. Might as well face the fact that Dime is only there because he's dead. If he was still alive no one would give a shit about him by now.
    Pat O'brien is hands down the greatest rifflord of history, a god living amoung men
    Gotta be Iommi
    Yeah, but Iommi isn't dead, so his importance can't be overblown, and his skill can't be overhyped, even though he could play circles around probably every Metal guitar player in his sleep, and he has little need to be overhyped, because he just plain rules. So, of course, Dimebag must win, despite having little to no legitimately good riffs to show for his supposed "masterful" guitar playing. Maybe they were talking about Power Metal-era Pantera? Because I don't see how anyone who knows even a handful of Metal could consider him a "riff lord" any other way. Did I miss the memo saying dumbed-down Exhorder riffs are now God-level?
    I think your bias is getting in the way of logically thinking. Everyone on this list is good however claiming Iommi could play circles around every metal guitarist is a joke. There are plenty that are way better. Maybe your basing your comment on the success of the player but when talking about actual guitar skills, there is no way that Iommi is even near the top 5. Maybe on the top 5 of popularity lists but not skill level.
    Skills aren't worth nothing if all you can do with it is useless guitar wanking.
    He plays with 4 fingers. He has plastic ones that he puts rubber caps over so he can use them while playing.
    Veronique Vega
    Django Reinhardt only had 2 functioning fingers on his fretting hand in his later years. Iommi had the fingertips on his fretting hand basically cut off on his last day working at a metal shop, before going to be a full time musician.
    How could you say Iommi could play circles around Dime? Are you kiddin me? Every riff from Iommi is awesome, but also easy to play, he mastered the power chord pretty much. I think Dimebag is light years ahead of Iommi. Not just because he's dead either.
    did you just say Dimebag has "little to no legitimately good riffs".. have you heard Walk, the Art of Shredding, Cemetery Gates, Cowboys From Hell, Mouth for War, or Im Broken? you cant sit there and tell me riffs from these songs arent "legitimately good"
    Word. FFS, Iommi does with 2 fingers what most metal guitarists can't do with 4...
    I think you never heard Pantera because your comment is so incredible wrong and pathetic. And that typical Exhorder-rip-off "argument" Really? I mean for me Tony Iommi is and will be the Rifflord but I think everyone who has at least a clue of Pantera can agree with me that Dimebag had plenty of good riffs and genius melodic stuff!
    I agree with what you said about Iommi but I don't get what you're saying about Dime and Pantera. Have you ever listened to Exhorder? Pantera doesn't sound like a dumbed-down Exhorder I think it's the other way around. I totally agree that Pantera was very influenced by Exhorder's style on the first couple of albums but Pantera wrote way better songs... hence the success. It's all opinion though, they're both great bands.
    My Last Words
    (s)ex(to my ears)horder or no Exhorder, even in pre hardcore-TGST-attitude, Dime was a beast. Just check the power metal record. Seriously, DO IT. DO IT NOW!!! WE'LL MEEET AGAAAAAIIIIIN You won't regret.
    Inform me, please....Iommi can play circles around who, exactly? He is a pioneer, of course....but I could play anything created by him before my 15th birthday. This has nothing to do with his death. He's not a Hendrix who was made into a god after his death...he earned it.
    [QUOTE=saint_berzerker]He's not a Cobain who was made into a god after his death...he earned it.[/QUOTE] Fixed that for you.
    Just to make things clear: Have you actually ever listened to his playing, or are you just going by your prejudice that 'all dead guitarists are overrated'? No disagreeing that Iommi is a legend, he was after all the man who set the tone for guitar playing in metal, but there IS a reason why Dimebag is considered one of the best. By the way, I find your argument of "dumbed-down Exhorder riffs" very weak, childish and pointless, since we both know that is not the case. Cheerio!
    Wow, are you me? These are my thoughts exactly. People do NOT improve after they die, they're skills and sound stays exactly the same, yet people rate them so high. I never thought much of Dimebag's guitar playing, he was good and I like Pantera, but I've never seen much that impressed me as much as it has others.
    Well, that's if you go by significance to the time period. Dimebag's riffs are far more technical than Iommi's. This is the reason polls like this are stupid because the earlier guys can't match up technically to the newer guys. The polls should take into account riffs relative to the time period.
    Well to be fair Iommi has a disadvantage, because he is missing TWO FINGERTIPS. But as well, Dimebag deserves to be named greatest Riff Lord because he has some of the Greatest riffs ever. He knows all of the technicals and has the intuition of a great riff writer. Iommi deserves respect by everyone on the planet, but so does Dime, and the guy who said it's "dumbed-down Exhorder" must not be a fan of Exhorder, because even Exhorder admits that Pantera's better. And I love Exhorder, but to insist on such a claim is like saying Megadeth's Rust in Peace is dumbed down Metallica.
    If I had to pick my favorite Dimebag riff, I'd say the main riff from "5 Minutes Alone" is my favorite, that riff gets me so pumped for literally anything.
    The main riff from 'Shedding Skin' is bad-ass too.
    My Last Words
    'Shedding skin' is bad-ass too. There, fixed.
    I was just being specific. Anything by pantera is bad ass. I turned a friend of mine onto them, he asked "Which album should I buy?" I said "Doesn't matter. Just make sure it says Pantera on the front. Trust me."
    I gotta say the bridge riff right before the breakdown in "This Love" is possibly my favorite Dimebag riff. So thrashy and groovy at the same time.
    As a big fan of Dime, I have to disagree. Mr. Iommi deserves to be #1.
    Dime probably would've say the the same. I'll add Cantrell, Wylde, Eric Peterson, Rhoads, Scott Ian.
    I can't argue with Dime, Hetfield, Iommi or Mustaine. I would add Max Cavalera to that list, though.
    Max Cavalera! Yes! He's so underrated, especially for his work with Sepultura. He was one of the first guitarists to combine thrash and death riffs with slower, more groove oriented heavy music. I feel like he gets so overlooked for how influential his playing really was.
    My personal favorite is the intro/main riff to 'Must Kill'. If that was my alarm clock, I wouldn't be late for anything ever again.
    Sorry for the double post, but I forgot to clarify that 'Must Kill' is a Cavalera Conspiracy track.
    I've gotta check out more Cavalera Conspiracy stuff I've only heard a couple of songs from the first album. My favorite Max riffs are mainly from "Arise" and "Chaos AD" but he's been creating crushing riffs for a long time.