Soundgarden's "Louder Than Love" Album Cover

70 Most Underrated Guitar Riffs Of All Time Part 3

Alright folks, here we are to wrap up the 70 Most Underrated Guitar Riffs Of All Time Part 3.

Be sure to check out Parts One and Two if you haven’t already, to see what other hidden gems I’ve covered.

Want to preview or buy on iTunes? Check out my playlist at the bottom of the list. Prefer Amazon? Click on the album image.

Let’s wrap it up:


24. “Dead End Justice”-The Runaways (1976)

[amazon_image id=”B003B7KENW” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Dead End Justice[/amazon_image]

Joan Jett and Lita Ford’s E /D chord riff rocks like crazy. Too bad it’s derailed by a long spoken word breakdown mid-song.


23.”New Dawn Fades”-Joy Division (1979)

[amazon_image id=”B00122KC80″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]New Dawn Fades [2007 Re-mastered][/amazon_image]

Bernard Sumner’s funereal guitar riff almost borders on metal.


22. “Shape Of Things To Come”-Audioslave (2006)

[amazon_image id=”B00137MTE4″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Shape Of Things To Come[/amazon_image]

Their last album didnt’ sell well, but this Tom Morello riff rules.


21. “Chariot Choogle”-T. Rex (1972)

[amazon_image id=”B0046P6KFO” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Chariot Choogle[/amazon_image]

I’ve put T.Rex singer/guitarist Marc Bolan on both my most underrated guitarist and singer lists, and this is a little known goodie.


20.”Stigmata Martyr”-Bauhaus (1980)/”Christian Says”-Tones On Tail (1982)

[amazon_image id=”B000SFV57O” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Stigmata Martyr[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B000SHAAXW” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Christian Says[/amazon_image]

Daniel Ash’s descending riff on “Martyr” is goth goodness. And on Tone’s On Tail’s “Christian Says”  he combines a pulsing rhythm riff with liquid smooth e-bow snarls.


19. “The Badge”-Pantera (1994)

[amazon_image id=”B002FUA31E” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Badge[/amazon_image]

How to pick an underrated riff by the esteemed Dimebag Darrell? But this great cover of  hardcore band Poison Idea let him do a metal/punk fusion that was pretty unique. You can hear it on “The Crow” soundtrack (it’s also being reissued on vinyl for Record Day 2014).

*Hardcore riff runner-up: “New Noise” by Refused. 

Click here for Albums Revisited: ‘The Crow’ Soundtrack Turns 20 

18. “Psychosocial”-Slipknot (2008)

[amazon_image id=”B001E79PYK” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Psychosocial[/amazon_image]

Another band people roll their eyes at, but sorry, they rock. One of the best metal songs I’ve heard in years.


17.”Hair of The Dog”-Nazareth (1975)

[amazon_image id=”B000W1W7JY” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Hair Of The Dog[/amazon_image]

This classic rock staple has one of the sweetest riffs in rock history.

*Honorable classic rock riff mention: “Don’t Fear The Reaper”-Blue Oyster Cult 


16. “Dopes To Infinity”-Monster Magnet (1995)

[amazon_image id=”B001O3WOVK” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Dopes To Infinity[/amazon_image]

This climbing fuzzed out riff is stoner rock perfection.


15. “Leper Messiah”-Metallica (1986)

[amazon_image id=”B00122A546″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Master Of Puppets[/amazon_image]

One of their lesser praised tunes, with one of Hetfield’s greatest riffs.


14. “Surprise You’re Dead”-Faith No More (1989)

[amazon_image id=”B000002LHA” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Real Thing[/amazon_image]

Jim Martin’s guitar work here is awesome, between the lurching opening/chorus riff and slamming verse riff. These guys were so much more than “Epic”!


13. “It Ain’t Like That”-Alice in Chains (1990)

[amazon_image id=”B00000272N” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Facelift[/amazon_image]

An open E chord and bent G note (tuned down a half step) was all Jerry Cantrell needed for maximum heaviousity. This should’ve been single.


12. “Avon”-Queens Of The Stone Age (1998)/”Thumb”-Kyuss (1992)

[amazon_image id=”B004OLZIJE” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Avon[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B000001A3H” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Blues for Red Sun[/amazon_image]

Guitarist Josh Homme is a detuned riff master.  “Avon”, is a pummeling riff from QOTSA’s début album. The melodic yet heavy riff from Kyuss’s “Thumb” is equally cool.


11.”Jambi”-Tool (2006)

Tool’s last album “10,000 Days” got a mixed reaction from fans, but I dug it. And this song has one of Adam Jones’s heaviest riffs.

(Amazon only) 


10. “321”-The Scorpions (2007)

[amazon_image id=”B000TSIK14″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Humanity: Hour 1[/amazon_image]

Released long after their hair metal heyday, it’s the heaviest thing I’ve heard from them. Was never a huge fan, but I’d be an asshole to deny this riff is cool as hell.


9. “In The Clouds”-The Cult (1995)

[amazon_image id=”B000SFXBPI” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]In The Clouds[/amazon_image]

Never released as a single, which is confounding, because its one of Billy Duffy’s best. They play it live occasionally, but not the last time I saw them.


8. “The Everlasting Gaze”-The Smashing Pumpkins (2000)

[amazon_image id=”B000TDUNYQ” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Everlasting Gaze[/amazon_image]

The Pumpkin’s album “Machina/The Hands Of God” bombed, but I like it, so kiss my ass! The opening/closing riffs feature some of Corgan/Iha’s heaviest playing. (read my review of their latest (well, his latest)  album here).


7.”Millennium”-Killing Joke (1994)

[amazon_image id=”B0009XG48K” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Pandemonium[/amazon_image]

Another criminally ignored band (with a singer who likes to disappear). Geordie Walker has so many great riffs, but this militant monster is one of his best. (I also reviewed their latest).


6. “LiesLiesLies”-Ministry (2006)

[amazon_image id=”B000R00OD6″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Rio Grande Blood [Explicit][/amazon_image]

Ministry fell of the radar in the 21st century, but this riff is slamming with a tight chunky groove courtesy of frontman Al Jourgenson and Prong guitarist Tommy Victor (more on him in a bit).


5. “Black Sunshine”-White Zombie (1982)

[amazon_image id=”B001NCNK7E” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume 1 [Explicit][/amazon_image]

Riffs galore here. Between the A string run of the chorus to the whacked out outro, guitarist J. Yuenger slays. When Rob Zombie canned him, he doomed his sound to generic hollowness.


4.”Gun”-Soundgarden (1989)

[amazon_image id=”B000002GIH” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Louder Than Love[/amazon_image]

Before “BadMotorFinger”, there was the album “Louder Than Love”. Kim Thayil’s simple Drop-D riff builds slowly but escalates into full metal melt down.


3.”Flame On”-Tony Iommi (2000)

What you say? Hasn’t Black Sabbath’s guitarist had his due ? Yes. But his self-titled album bombed. This song has the best metal riff you’ve never heard (It also features vocals by the Cult’s Ian Astbury and a guest solo from Queen’s Brian May)  Check it out on YouTube (only available on cd from Amazon).


2.”Unfortunately”-Prong (1996)

[amazon_image id=”B008M49CQY” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Rude Awakening[/amazon_image]

Tommy Victor is the most underrated guitarist in rock. Prong’s album “Rude Awakening” was amazing, but unfortunately (sorry) fans bailed. Why? This riff is so heavy and solid. (check out my review of their new album).

And read my interview with Tommy Victor here!


1. “Snakes Of Christ”-Danzig (1990)

John Christ’s dark, descending opening riff, punctuated by demonic, squealing notes is evilly good. Danzig  complained that STP ripped it off the for “Sex Type Thing”. He may have a point. Listen for yourself.

So there, you have it, my  70 Most Underrated Guitar Riffs Of All Time. Did I name some of your faves? Leave some out? Feel free to chime in below with the riffs that stir your soul and bang your head.

About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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12 Responses to 70 Most Underrated Guitar Riffs Of All Time Part 3

  1. Greg August 30, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    Outstanding job as usual. I really enjoyed the list, as most of these songs I have not heard before or considered for their everlasting riffs. Don’t know if it qualifies, but when I originally read the basis for this list, my first thought was Bound For the Floor by Local H. So many good ones out there, which I suspect was why you went with 70 (!).

    • SLIS August 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      Great choice Greg! Can’t believe I forgot that one. Some others that slipped my mind include “Between Something and Nothing” by the Ocean Blue, “God is a Bullet” by Concrete Blonde and “Hitch A Ride” by Tomahawk. I always think of more after the fact!

      Had you heard of Wool before? I think you’d love their sound.

    • SLIS September 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      And I’m currently working on bands that never made it big, but should have. Have a lot more bands that I need to champion…

      • Stuart Whitehead June 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

        RE: Bands that never made it big.
        1. Captain Beyond ( listen to their first album ).
        2. Silverhead ( despite having a singer who was a cross between Mick Jagger and Marc Bolan and a load of killer songs, they just didn’t get any critical acclaim).


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