Top 10 Most Complex Riffs Ever

artist: Misc date: 06/06/2014 category: wtf?
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Top 10 Most Complex Riffs Ever
For this week's Wednesday Question we've delved into the fascinating domain of intricate guitar riffs. You guys voted for the most complex riff of them all, we summed up the results and the winner is ... Deep Purple and "Smoke on the Water"!

Just kidding, sort of. UG jokers found their way to the top yet again, but on more of a serious side, here's this week's UG Top 10.

10. Led Zeppelin - "Black Dog"

Kicking it off the old-school way, Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" was truly one of the first tunes to introduce complex riffing to the rock realm. The riff itself wasn't written by Jimmy Page as you might assume, but by Mr. John Paul Jones, the bassist. Here's what he had to say:

"I wanted to try an electric blues with a rolling bass part. But it couldn't be too simple. I wanted it to turn back on itself. I showed it to the guys, and we fell into it. We struggled with the turn-around, until [John] Bonham figured out that you just four-time as if there's no turn-around. That was the secret."

9. Cannibal Corpse - "Frantic Disembowelment"

Taking a major turn in terms of heaviness, Cannibal Corpse are up next on No. 9 with "Frantic Disembowelment," a hectic uptempo riff backed by the band's signature gory lyrics about the very thing mentioned in the title. The song is credited to drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz and guitarist Pat O'Brien.

8. Joe Satriani - "Satch Boogie"

Not only is the solo pretty intricate on this one, but the riff itself is equally complex. It's Satch we're talking about, and guitar mastery is simply his thing.

7. Metallica - "Blackened"

Arguably the single greatest riff Jason Newsted has contributed to Metallica, "Blackened" is yet another work of a bassist to make the list. And once again, the song has the word "black" in it. Maybe there's just something to it. Anyhow, here's what Jason said about the whole thing:

"Yeah, the main riff is mine. I wrote it on bass, though. I'd only been in the band for a very short time. I was still in a little one-bedroom rented apartment. And James would come over to the house, like [we were] buddies. He'd come over for dinner. We'd hang out and play guitars on the couch. It's was pretty f--king dreamy for me. Metallica was my favorite band. It was pretty surreal.

"I had a little four-track Tascam set up in the bedroom. So we went in there, and he's got a guitar and I've got a bass. I'm f--king around with this riff. And then he started playing along, and the song started forming right at that time. I'm sitting up in my chair, like, 'Holy s--t, dude. This is something!' That was the first thing we ever constructed together. And him going, 'Dude, that riff's good enough to open our f--king album,' really gave me a feeling of victory, because I looked up to him greatly, and still do to this day."

6. Dream Theater - "The Dark Eternal Night"

This one's just a riff fest, but you guys pointed out a riff kicking off at 5:53, so make sure to check that one as well. The tune's music is attributed to the entire band, but the mid-section part is based around keyboardist Jordan Rudess' riff.

5. Megadeth - "Poison Was the Cure"

Kicking off with an eerie bass line, Megadeth's "Poison Was the Cure" builds up for about a minute just to kick out the jams with that savage riff. And by savage we mean rather intricate. The riff, as well as is the entire song, is the work of frontman Dave Mustaine.

4. Eric Johnson - "Cliffs of Dover"

We have another guitar master here, Mr. Eric Johnson and his staple instrumental "Cliffs of Dover." The melodic riff, along with the rest of the track, was entirely written my Eric, who sort of refuses to take full credit for it.

"I don't even know if I can take credit for writing 'Cliffs of Dover," the guitarist said. "It was just there for me one day ... literally wrote in five minutes ... kind of a gift from a higher place that all of us are eligible for. We just have to listen for it and be available to receive it."

3. Racer X - "Technical Difficulties"

Well the title just says it all here, now doesn't it? Guitar parts recorded by Paul Gilbert, composed by Gilbert and Scott Travis, produced by Gilbert - Racer X - "Technical Difficulties."

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Snow (Hey Oh)"

If you just look at the basic chords, this one has the same progression as just about half of the pop industry. But John Frusciante managed to give it a few twists and turns, resulting in a fairly complex riff and a surprisingly high position.

If you want to check out a similar tune with that same bouncy guitar triplet, take a listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Trust." 

1. Animals as Leaders - "CAFO"

The masters of tricky riffs, instrumental prog metallers Animals as Leaders get to claim the complexity throne this week. And it's thanks to one of their most popular tunes, "CAFO." Prog metal and jazz fusion, mellow and crushing, it's all there, and it's No. 1.

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