Riff of the Day

Segment of the day: Intronaut, Gleamer (2:27 to 2:45)

In my mind “Doom Jazz” may be the single coolest hybrid genre title. Intronaut definitely embodies this.

It’s not a riff that I wanted to highlight here, but a particular section: and one in, off all things, 7/8 time.

It starts at nearly two and a half minutes, and only continues for a quarter minute, but man… it is fun stuff.

AND, perhaps more importantly, it’s also fun METAL stuff– it seems like most times, when music gets into weird/unusual time signatures, there is a definite intellectual reaction to this, accompanied with some delight, but the headbanging, “Did it swing/rock?” ethos is inevitably left behind.

This is psychedelic, doomy, jazzish, vaguely-grindcorey intellectually swinging metal.

For what more could you ask?

[To go to beginning of the segment click here.]

Riff of the Day: Witchfinder General, Invisible Hate (0:37 to 0:47)

Death Penalty, cover

It’s produced exactly like you’d imagine something from 1982 would be, and the riff in question hits at 0:37 to 0:47 (about a second or so later in the attached youtube video) and recurs periodically thereafter: a nice use of the trill to make unique an otherwise-standard riff out of the Sabbath Handbook. To me, to make a riff in standard tuning stand out, you’ve got to think: and Witchfinder General do exactly that– they play a riff in standard that Sabbath might’ve written, but there’s something unique about it… part phrasing, part soul, part [something]… anyway, listen and see what you think….

The most distinct sounds in sludge/stoner/doom guitar?

So. I’ve played guitar for just about 25 years. I’ve played woodwind instruments for 30. In all my decades of loving metal, and being, I’m proud to say in retrospect, A Bitch of the Riff, I’ve noticed something.

In jazz (land of the woodwinds and brass, not so much the stringed instruments), there’s a huge emphasis on personal sound– that is, how distinct is your sound; how quickly can you be recognized by a note of two of your playing?

This has nothing to do with your ability to write songs, or how hard you rock, or how long your hair is, et cetera. It is, exactly and only, how quickly someone can hear you play and know that It Is You.

You really don’t hear that in guitar circles that much. There are different emphases in regards to What’s Important.

So. For the sake of argument, let’s reverse the genres here. (In case you haven’t read me before, that’s kinda my thing, flipping jazz and metal standards.) I think it’ll yield interesting discussion points.

Who, in the guitar land (here, specifically the stoner/ sludge/ doom arena) has the most distinct sound? (Again, not the fastest player, or the lowest tuning, or the best songs– just the most unique — and most easily identifiable– sound on the guitar.)

These are my picks. (Feel free to weigh in with your opinions in the comments section.)

In no order:


Seven Foot Spleen, Stunted

Centurions Ghost, Hyena Circle

The Devil and the Sea (link to “Monolith”)


Sloath (link to “Cane Trader”)

Thelonious Monk’s Epistrophy as a stoner metal riff

I found this interesting*:

What would Monk’s “Epistrophy” (specifically the A section) sound like played on a detuned guitar and slowed down (aka a stoner/doom/sludge metal riff)?

Here’s Monk and Coltrane playing the melody in question:

Epistrophy A section

Here’s my hastily-recorded riff of it (played in its original key, C, but on the low B and E strings, tuned to Db standard):

Epistrophy as guitar riff


Kinda sounds like Weedeater. Doesn’t really sound off, or out of place at all. Monk was totally metal.



*I have lots of free time.

Riff of the Day: Overkill, Wrecking Crew

It’s a simple riff (the best ones are, I guess): starts in E standard, zigs and zags, then back to E standard; the “verse” riff is E-D-C-C#-D-D#-(low E/ higher E)….

It’s the perfect “punk” (via Overkill‘s NJ punk roots) via the newly-formed “thrash” metal riff:

Riff of the Day: Mass Hypnosis

Thus making the second time Sepultura‘s been on this list, dig, from their third album, 1989’s Beneath the Remains, Mass Hypnosis:

Max and Igor Cavalera are proof what the bond (musical and otherwise) between brothers can yield: the damn riff is entirely in E standard,yet with the drum rocking out behind it, the pedal-toned, palm-muted awesomeness emerges, completely free of anything even resembling complexity. (more…)