List: The Top 10 Almighty Riffs of 2013

joshhommeThe riff is something that has been a tool of rock since the beginning. I hope to make this a reoccurring feature as we count down our favorite riffs from the decades and years of rock and roll. Please, throw out your favorite 2013 riffs and I’ll see you at the end of 2015 as we count down some new meaty riffs.

God Is Dead”
Black Sabbath

Even though Bill Ward has referred to 13 as “a pile of shit,” I still have no problem putting it here. Clocking in at close to nine minutes, “God Is Dead” takes a style that feels like Rhodes-era Ozzy song with those classic Sabbath power chords. Plus, when that Iommi solo kicks in at the 6:25 mark, it’s early Sabbath all over again, rocking.

“Running For My Life”
The Virginmarys

When I started in on this record, I was ready to send it to the trash and be disappointed, but boy was I wrong. Ripped right out of the pages of guitar wankery done right, The Virginmarys’ “Running For My Life” takes no prisoners. It’s built like a roller coaster with it’s scale climbing up the hill. It‘s really the Tom Morello inspired drop that had me in blissful Rage/Audioslave nostalgia.

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“Books On Tape”

One of the tightest, powerful, and lush records I‘ve had the pleasure of listening to all year, Native has created something special. “Books On Tape” takes everything good about Orthodox and makes it better — tightly packed post-punk twinkle riff, ever evolving and interesting song structure, and the basic ease of freakin’ rocking. If they can do this with their debut, I cannot wait to see what comes next.

“Goodbye Gemini”
Blood Ceremony

Often we think of a classic riff as a series of single notes played in a unique and memorable way. But, the way that Blood Ceremony executes the instrumentation around “Goodbye Gemini” is nothing short of genius. The interplay between the flute and bass is great fun, the galloping guitar and solo are sweet and simple, and the chorus is catchy as hell.

“Clash The Truth”
Beach Fossils

The title track from Beach Fossil’s second album is a total rip-off of – no, not The Clash – of Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” and for that alone it deserves its spot here. Many of the bands here carve a spot in the metal, alt rock, or garage genres. Beach Fossils shows us that a well executed lo-fi riff can be here too — it’s really catchy stuff.

“Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster”

Thee Oh Sees
Here I go again with my fandom of monstrous riffs. Not only does “Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster” possess my favorite song title of the year, it also happens to be a hell of a riff. After erupting into your ears the lurching fuzz has nothing to do but consume your brain. The Sees are always spot on with most of their riff constructions and this one is no exception.

“Loose Sutures”

Acolytes of fuzz, look no further, for Ty Segall has answered our prayers with trio of long hairs — FUZZ. A lot of bands know how to use a fuzz stomp box, but FUZZ knows how to harness and en-power it. “Loose Sutures” takes advantage of some meaty chord riffage, what sounds like a N.I.B. bass tribute, and then still finds time to create a solo riff that makes the song even better. I‘m just going to say what we‘re all thinking — whatever deity you believe in, bless you FUZZ.

Hooded Fang

I really want to champion Hooded Fang. I feel that people are being deprived by not knowing about them. The song “Wasteland” is instant happiness every time I put it on. After coming up with the description of an armor plated ice cream truck being driven by someone under the influence of speed what more could you want. Just play this song, and how could you not happily head bob?

“All Night In Dreams”
White Denim

Cut from the same cloth as The Allman Brothers, this track from the Austin band’s latest record Corsicana Lemonade plays to all White Denim’s strengths. They have a varied sound that allowed them to open for the Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala, Manchester Orchestra, Wilco, and even The Flaming Lips. It’s really a testament to their varied sound and rocking high energy. Plus, the song just kicks a whole lotta ass.

“Spiderwood Farm”

Another band the UK, Purson’s The Circle And The Blue Door was one of my favorite debut albums of 2013 and this is the best song on it. Kinda proggy, kinda psychedelic, kinda proto-metal, but 100% awesome. Rosalie Cunningham’s voice carries power yet carries a docile tip toe when it needs to. The riff carries a Temples-like vibe as it spirals down a darkened stone staircase.

“My God Is The Sun”
Queens of the Stone Age

There‘s nothing else to say except that “My God Is The Sun” deserves to be number one. This is classic Queens of the Stone Age — everything is here intermixing to create one hell of a sexy brew. Taking a lot of cues from their earlier days is exactly something that you should do if you‘re QOTSA. Especially if you had a hand in influencing the modern guitar riff as we know it today.

Photo Credit: “Josh Homme 2003” by Clare Wilkinson – Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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