Everyone in Metallica is allowed to bring musical ideas to Metallica. Whether those ideas pass their infamous “tone police” – that’s another matter. Today we try to find the best riffs written by every Metallica member, former and actual.
Robert Trujillo – The Day That Never Comes
Despite being the longest Metallica bassist ever, Robert has had an opportunity to participate in creating only two real albums. And those are complete opposites in regard to Rob’s contribution. Death Magnetic has every song co-written by him, while Hardwired – only one, ManUNkind intro (and even that one lick could be a Magnetic leftover). For example, All Nightmare Long pre-verse is what remained from that famous Rob’s flamenco jam.
The Day that Never Comes has a lesser known confirmed line brought by Rob: the one before solo, with rapidly changing power chords. The riff’s pretty basic on bass, but the guitar version sure made James sweat.
Kirk Hammett – Creeping Death
Kirk is the third most frequent name on Metallica’s songwriting credits (after James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich), and the second most productive riff-maker (after James). Only two albums are devoid of his contribution: Kill em All (‘cause just joined) and Hardwired (‘cause lost iPhone or whatever).
Enter Sandman is the most known one by Kirk Hammett – but something makes me not want to give it laurels. Damage Inc bridge, Fade to Black outro, My Apocalypse bridge – all of them are awesome licks Hammett wrote. But the Die! Die! one from Creeping Death is the embodiment of the heavy. Written by a 16-years old Kirk, it waited many years to make the now legendary banger (like anone one down the list).
Also, we’re collecting the confirmed Kirk Hammett riffs here. If you have proof that some riff is his, please share it.
Jason Newsted – Blackened
There’s not much to choose from. For Jason Newsted’s whole time in Metallica, only three licks of his made the cut. Blackened was the initial one, not many knew it’s Jason’s baby until quite recently (the verse is also his). The riff is among the hardest downpickers ever written and one of the highlights of Metallica’s thrash era.
Just for the record, the other two are: My Friend of Misery and Where the Wild Things Are. And yes, none of the famous Load’s bass lines, such as Until it Sleeps and King Nothing, were actually Newsted’s ideas, but James Hetfield’s.
Lars Ulrich – One
There’s been a debate about the source of the iconic “machine gun” pattern from One: James’s hands or Lars’s feet. Now we have it officially: the drummer’s to blame. He himself admitted that in the recent Masterclass. And you shouldn’t be surprised, because Lars Ulrich is a big part of Metallica’s songwriting process, mostly in giving riffs the right order.
But occasionally, even the Danish prince can spit out some riffs. Although, only a handful have been confirmed to belong to Lars, the machine gun one being the latest addition. And Justice for All’s main riff was born in a similar fashion: Lars played it first, then James laid guitar on it.
Cliff Burton – For Whom the Bell Tolls
Obvious choice (even though it’s not my personal favourite by Cliff Burton). This is the first Metallica bass line that 95% of young bassist attempt to play.
The chromatic lick from For Whom the Bell Tolls was around way before Cliff joined Metallica. And its time of glory came on Ride the Lightning, where the bassist had dumped all the best ideas he had for years. At first, the rest of the band found it weird, and couldn’t make a proper song from it. But then James Hetfield added that 22-22- opener – and it finally clicked.
Dave Mustaine – Ride the Lightning
It was a hard choice between The Four Horsemen (most known), Metal Militia (personal fav), and Ride the Lightning (trickiest one). So I simply went with the one that had an isolated guitar track available. Metallica may have simplified it by dropping most of Dave’s “spider chords” (alternating power chords one string and one fret apart).
Phantom Lord interlude and The Call of Ktulu arpeggios should get an honorable mention for they spawned so many Megadeth riffs. Alright, Jump in the Fire too, since it’s the first song Dave showed to Lars and James.
James Hetfield – Battery
80% of all the music in Metallica comes from his amazing composing talent and inhumanly strong wrist. There’s a minimum of fifty premium riffs by James Hetfiled, and each could be the best one.
Why Battery then? Simply because there’s nothing from Master of Puppets on the list yet. Pancakes!
Wanna more MetalliStuff? Join our MetGang to stay updated \m/