Wednesday Question: Heaviest Riff of All Time?

Stretch your music knowledge with your heaviest music tips ever - this could be the greatest playlist we ever create.

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Okay guys. It's time to get back to guitars. We've done some truly massive riff posts in the past, but it's time to smash past all that and go right down to the best kind of riffs: the heavy ones. This week, Metallica hinted that they might ebay all their spare riffs - that's how prolific those mofos are. But there are plenty of other metal acts who take heavy music even further, and we want you to help root them out. This week's question is:

What is the heaviest riff of all time?

We want you to set the bar pretty high - readers ought to be terrified to play the final playlist on Friday. It should be so darn heavy that your neighbours will move house when they hear it. Post one nomination per comment, and we'll post the results on Friday in a skull-crushing top 10 list.

925 comments sorted by best / new / date

    EvilAlienSquid
    Pantera - Walk
    Armagedn
    I would actually say "Revolution is my Name" is the heaviest Pantera riff I can think of.
    smittyanthrax
    The heaviest pantera riff i know is the breakdown riff in suicide note part 2.I think it start about 1 minute 30ish.
    reversegenesis
    Drag The Waters?
    chrisvasco23
    verse riff for five minutes alone is probably the heaviest riff i heard when i was a kid.. i went to listen to it and it still amazes me how violent the riff with that guitar tone is
    evanfurillo
    i love the heavy riff that comes in at the end of 25 years off far beyond driven (were f@#kin you back!) its so badass
    cbabb7
    Living through me intro by Pantera is my vote for the heaviest lick.
    omgdessert
    Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
    MoonGoingDown
    Electric Wizard - Funeralopolis
    Engel22
    This is my choice, too. It'd be nice to see the Wizard win, just for the sake of good PR, but no doubt a bigger-name band will get the win.
    PRSTremontiSE
    Yes Electric Wizard, but The Barbarian came to mind first for me. Once Funeralopolis picks up it does get pretty damn heavy, though.
    AngelEyesRipper
    Sad But True - Metallica
    Badass UltraMan
    I agree with this. After scrolling down the list it would appear a lot of people think the lower you can tune your guitars, the heavier it is but I disagree. Even riffs in E or D standard can be heavy as hell. For me 'heavy' is a feel, a groove that just makes you uncontrollably peck your head and pull that stupid, snarling face with a half grin when it comes on. Sad But True just nails it
    JMZ08
    I think Sad But True is tuned to C#... Anyway, heaviest riff is Bleed by Meshuggah. It's a no contest.
    nincompoop
    I'm not really into Metallica anymore, but I saw them in '08 and Jesus mother**** Sad But True was ****ing explosive.
    6-String_Madman
    Wall Of Sound... In Your Face approach... It is designed to blast your ears once you listen to it in your headphones on full volume. You can't be wrong with Sad But True!
    zombr0ski
    The Thing That Should Not Be
    calzy666
    Try HALO-Machine head
    N-D
    Sorry for posting this at the top - I just want to introduce people to this music... Neurosis - "Times Of Grace" - for me it's not just "heavy" - it is really apocalyptic.
    0:45
    Hungryformore21
    Yeah Neurosis is awesome. This could easily become a list filled with sludge/doom metal bands which I don't mind at all.
    Metalisnotmusic
    I wasn't expecting this. I was thinking Gojira - Backbone, but Neurosis beats any and all music in history
    shawnkenneth
    Dream Theater- The Dark Eternal Night (Outro Riff).. Not the heaviest, but definitely worth a mention...
    LeftyGuitar77
    I would say Honor Thy Father tops both in terms of heaviness- that part after "Don't cross the crooked step" gives me the chills...
    DisarmGoliath
    If you like the technical aspect of Dream Theater, you'll probably like this. First 0:35 of this vid is pretty damn heavy!
    shawnkenneth
    Um, that DT riff is kinda the least technical part of the song imo.. And that's why I like it.. Pure emotion and groove..
    Krieger91
    Classic. A lot of the classics have been said, but I'd like to see some early nu-metal as well. I'd say Blind by Korn. That riff after the build up is insane. Live, even more so.
    GeriatricNinja
    I would've gone with Iron Man but both are pretty awesome
    guitarist5477
    Yea I agree. I've always found the riff to Black Sabbath to be more creepy and doomish than heavy. Iron Man is heavier imo.
    Joeseye
    Black Sabbath in general are a good choice. I would rate Black Sabbath or Under the Sun as some of the heaviest riffs I know. Although it depends on what people consider heavy. Mode? Rhythm/groove? Tuning? Tempo? A mix?
    Random.3000
    My definition of heavy resides somewhere around Bleed by Meshuggah, or maybe Spasm..
    Lightning_Ray
    I still think that Electric Funeral has the heaviest riff by Sabbath... which is nearly saying that it's the heaviest ever.
    goremetal22
    Very nice! Personally i think the riff near the end of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the heaviest, but just my opinion.
    BlackLabel5150
    Absolutely that riff is killer. I would also like to throw in the Heaven Turns to Hell riff in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
    Jazz1992
    The chorus riff in Bible Black by Heaven & Hell.
    sewoo55
    That riff starting at 0:17 is chunky as hell.....
    Satrianifan281
    Bad Horsie-Steve Vai
    J.Millzzzz
    Architects- Early Grave. I go nuts everytime
    rockfreak611
    Dazed and Confused - Led Zeppelin!
    plbrynt
    The heaviest metal riff is still the first one...
    Mrguitare555
    Beat me to it
    jonathan.keeler
    Not trying to steal the top comment, but surely in terms of heaviness, either death metal or avant garde metal hold that title. I would put something like spawn of possession - scortched or cannibal corpse - hammer smashed face. There are a lot of good riffs here, but I would not call any of them the heaviest.
    axld
    I don't agree. Doom/stoner metal is way heavier in my opinion. Sleep-Dopesmoker, that's one heavy mother****er
    SpencerJacobs
    Dopesmoker is insanely heavy, the obviously biased part of me wants to vote the Dragonaut riff though
    N-D
    Agree with Cannibal Corpse - "Hammer Smashed Face"
    Wininacan
    c\m/ cannibal. Most of UG knows nothing about heavy.
    Metalxorxdie
    idiots downvoting you DONT know what heavy music even is...any death metal band or even Meshuggah are far more heavier and have more groove than freakin Metllica, I mean really? smh
    EpsilonX
    I think people are going for a more slow, hard feel than intense, which is what i'd call Cannibal Corpse. The riff in Scourge of Iron from Torture is pretty heavy though
    daniel.95.gray
    Or even Age Of Reason
    TJWhonley
    In waves by trivium.
    N3WW4V3N1NJ4
    Amon Amarth - twilight of the thunder god
    iommi600
    Hellhammer - Triumph of Death
    Jazz1992
    Good one, but lmao @ the "vocals"
    Jimjambanx
    I think we all knew this was going to win.
    regnemer
    Nice omg, this is the winner and you got it right off the bat...Considering the year and era they wrote is song, this riff is the champ.
    Kevan80
    Decapitated - Spheres of Madness
    wormgus2003
    Smoke on the water
    Dynamight
    That's not a riff, it's a track.
    K33nbl4d3
    There's about two riffs in the song and it's not hard to work out which one he means.
    tavocamper
    sure it may be considered the riff that started it all, but the heaviest of all time? I have to disagree on that. :/
    thatnewguy103
    yeah, gotta go with you on that one
    s7peterson
    That's a good choice! I personally would go with (sic) by Slipknot.
    apartzero
    Amen.
    shoegazer'
    I am so glad this was mentioned. It is THE RIFF that started heavy metal. Good to see UG voters getting it right!
    EpsilonX
    My first thought was Heaven and Hell
    N3WW4V3N1NJ4
    First thing that comes to mind Metallica - Whiplash, also Slayer - Raining Blood
    zilosgodie
    It doesn't get any heavier than this...
    PS: Its a joke but still ****ing heavy!!!
    dogfacedgod
    Strapping Young Lad - Love? (verse riff, right from 0:50). Actually, SYL has plenty of heavy as hell riffs, but this one is also widely known. Right here it goes:
    Niamorg
    4:35 this is heavy as a really, really heavy thing.
    dogfacedgod
    Hah, actually, I was thinking about In the Rainy Season as well. But there are couple of things to consider: first of all, it is not specifically the riff that is heavy (the riff is just one chord repeated quarterly), but underlying drumming and overall wall of sound. Second, this song is kind of gentle in studio. Well, gentle is not the best word, but compared to OMFG or Shitstorm it is a feather . But yeah, live version just blows you away.
    HamishAdams88
    Opeth - Blackwater Park
    Kornholic
    Meshuggah - Bleed
    FiddleJohnny
    ELECTRIC WIZARD - "Funeralopolis"
    jurnag12
    Let's not forget Sabbath's 'Into the Void'
    niv0070
    Everyone can say what the think is the best riff... Its a competition of Sabbath vs. Sabbath!! THEY WERE THE HEAVIEST, THE WILL BE THE HEAVIEST, AND THEY ARE THE HEAVIEST, PERIOD!
    DimeBatteryDrrl
    this riff man. Everyone is on here upvoting plenty of metallica riffs, and for good reason. James himself said that Into The Void is his favorite Sabbath song. Without it, who knows what tallica songs would not exist
    Banksy1234
    Mastodon - Blood And Thunder
    raminile
    Can't believe nobody's mentioned Sleep's Dopesmoker riff yet!
    smittyanthrax
    Sepultura Refuse/Resist.
    Bigdubb
    Why this doesn't have more upvotes, I dunno... This, Troops of Doom, and Desperate Cry all have killer riffs.
    zombr0ski
    Surely it's "The Thing That Should Not Be" Everything is heavy in that song, riffs, vocal melody. Even the drumming sounds lurking. An epic.
    kratos379
    I feel that the S&M version is much better than the original and makes it much heavier too. The orchestra adds such a nice touch to the song. I don't particularly like listening to the Master of Puppets album version much anymore now that I've heard S&M tbh.
    Bigdubb
    Great choice. Why didn't I think of that?! I just heard the song 10 minutes ago!
    CharlesDickens
    Mastodon - Iron Tusk
    lemmyisgod97
    You think I ain't worth a Dollar, but I feel like a Millionaire- Qotsa, probably the heaviest riff ever by a band that isn't primarily a metal band.
    Tim the Rocker
    ELECTRIC WIZARD - ANY RIFF FROM THE ALBUM DOPETHRONE (SPECIALLY "DOPETHRONE" ITSELF) Why is it even a question... Fuck metal riffs, Sludge/Doom's where it's at in heavyness.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    Sludge and Doom are metal though, but agreed if something from those genres doesn't win, no one on this site knows heavy.
    TomM96
    George Michael - Faith
    phidias13
    Gojira Backbone
    petruzh
    jurnag12
    Meshuggah - obZen
    remx15
    yeah, if there is not at least one Meshuggah track on this list then we all know it is rigged.
    N-D
    And "Rational Gaze" - especially at 0:15
    Metalxorxdie
    Great choice! I know their song "Spasm" is their lowest tuned song, I'm sure you know that one though too lol
    kratos379
    Really any song off this album could work, Bleed and Combustion immediately came to my mind when I saw the article. Also knowing what Dancers to a Discordant System is about really makes it feel heavy as it is so bleak. I guess my vote would have to go to Dancers to a Discordant System, probably my favorite song by them. The creepy, atonal riffing in the beginning really helps build tension before the song goes full blast.
    NirvanaFreak94
    The Metal-Tenacious D \m/
    The jazz Man
    Sad But True - 'tallica
    ZeppelinruleZ
    Soundgarden - 4th of July
    Sir_Taffey
    Gojira - Heaviest matter of the universe. Pick a riff
    Sir_Taffey
    Edit, around the 2:20. The heaviest riff ever in a song that isn't tabbed in a logarythm
    LightxGrenade
    Decapitated- Spheres of Madness, Opeth- Masters Apprentice are the two songs that come to my mind immediately.
    affeimdt
    Stengah - Meshuggah
    RipperJames
    Metallica - Fight Fire with Fire
    Dead Eye Dick
    Symptom of the Universe
    elliotyorkcamer
    Take No Prisoners - Megadeth The riff that kicks in at 0:23 Simply brutal.
    Minimallamb
    Electric Wizard - Dopethrone
    Linkerman
    Amon Amarth - The Pursuit Of Vikings
    NecroComet
    Fucking chorus riff
    ZeppelinruleZ
    Soundgarden - 4th of July
    dead_guy6661
    Gojira- Vacuity probably not the heaviest, but one of heaviest riffs I've ever listened
    korinaflyingv
    war pigs
    GuitarMilitia
    Pantera - A New Level
    rohit.sudarsan
    Electric Wizard - 'Funeralopolis' for sure
    shredman123
    Alice in Chains - We Die Young
    elliotyorkcamer
    Fight Fire With Fire - Metallica
    Rotte
    Mastodon - MOTHER PUNCHER
    Badgerduzi
    Gojira- Toxic Garbage Island Protip, eat a banana while listening to this, it will be the best banana you've ever had.
    Armagedn
    Needles- System of a Down. The chugging in the main riff is chugging done right, those triplets are neck-breaking
    KnX33
    harvester of sorrow - no doubt
    Icky101
    Probably not gonna get a ton of votes, but imo Soundgarden-Mailman
    Russian Echidna
    Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - Black Sabbath
    BlackLabel5150
    Just thinking of that riff in the heaven turns to hell part gives me chills. I believe the world is actually heavier because of it.
    pachap
    God I remember how me and my best friend used to put Sabbath Bloody Sabbath on repeat and leave it all on day long while we stole cheap booze from the neighbors garage.
    BillyAgainst128
    Lamb of God - Laid to Rest
    Cosmironic
    Metallica - Ride The Lightning (verse riff) System of a Down - Mind (riff at 1:49) Slayer - War Ensemble (riff at 2:35)
    aislexbonetrial
    Lamb of God - Blacken the Cursed Sun
    Bigdubb
    Meshuggah - Demiurge
    Bigdubb
    Death - Spirit Crusher
    The_Dayman
    I know it probably won't be on the list, but holy **** do I love the riffs in that song. The transition to the chorus is too badass for words.
    niv0070
    That one is just pure awesome.. I dont know any bands today (except prog metal) that dare to have so much transitions in one song and that should bea admired!
    Bigdubb
    Lamb of God - Straight for the Sun It's just straight up sludge metal. Nothing but heavy.