The Top 5 Riffs That Have Caused Me Almost More Trouble Than They’re Worth

Ever since 2006, each year end issue has included, alongside the customary list of the year’s best albums for you to argue about and call us out on, a collection of Top 5’s ranging from the silly to the (somewhat) serious to the even more silly. It’s always a good time, both generating the lists and reading the final finished product. In putting the Top 5s together, there’s generally a cattle call put out to the contributors after which the brass either tells us our ideas for Top 5 categories are either too stupid or not stupid enough for publication. Since I didn’t feel like sitting on the following until there was another five feet of snow on the ground, and because Albert, being in his right mind, would never give me this much space in the actual magazine, today’s blog post is a epic and early Top 5.

When I’m not listening to music, I usually have tunes rolling around in my pointy head. And when I’m doing something unrelated to music, chances are I can be found humming or singing to myself just to drive home the fact that I’m unfortunately in the middle of something that doesn’t involve music. Basically, if it doesn’t involve music, fuck it! Once in a while, my humming will get overheard by someone who wants to know what I’m going on about. Sometimes, the resulting discussion is cool and engaging; other times, I end up talking to people who make me want to jab a fork in my scrotum. To wit, I present the Top 5 riffs that have caused me the most pain and why. And while you’re at it and if you already haven’t, why not check out the year-end issues we have remaining since we started doing top 5s? Here are links to issues from 2007, 20092012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.


KONG – “Quiet”/“My Heart Soars Like a Hawk (Quiet Remix)”

OK, so seeing as most you are probably unfamiliar with this song, I guess I have some ‘splaining to do. “Quiet” was a song off the band’s Mute Poet Vocalizer debut from 1990 and on their second album, Phlegm, they did a remix of said track, as titled above. As part of both versions of the song, there’s a tick-tock, cuckoo-clock kind of sound included. At least I always thought it was a clock, but have been told it could be a metronome. Anyway, the clicking sound fits the pulsing bass riff and mellow mood of the track, as well as the dance-y sampled beat in the remix, so incredibly well that I’ve been humming the riff and making clock sounds with my mouth ever since and on an all too regular basis. Think of it as prog metal beat-boxing. Moving along, anyone who’s ever met me doesn’t have to be Columbo or have a Master’s in psychology to discern that I’m not exactly the smoothest social being to ever walk the earth. Social anxiety, awkwardness, phobia, whatever…don’t all of us nerds suffer from it to some degree? No biggie, right? Well, supposedly it is to certain members of my family, as there are persons in question who I’m supposedly close to who spend far too much time over the course of a day trying to diagnose and tell people what’s wrong with them. Ironically, and much to my chagrin, some of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome include social awkwardness and making clicking noises in order to deal with stressful situations. Needless to say, for a few years now I’ve been fending off requests that I submit myself to tests to determine if I indeed have a mild form of Asperger’s, like knowing one way or another is going to make one iota of difference now that I’ve passed the halfway mark to the grave. Kong, I love ya, always have and probably always will, but “Quiet”/My Heart Soars Like a Hawk” has caused me way too much domestic shit.

TYPE O NEGATIVE – “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity

The “I know you’re fucking someone else” part remains one of the catchiest sing-a-long sequences in not just the Type O canon, but in all of metal. Period. But a word to the wise; be mindful of where you are and who’s around when you feel the need to sing this part out loud. Even if you feel you are justified in your own mind in doing so because you just found out your significant other hasn’t exactly been treating you so significantly.

METALLICA – “Jump in the Fire”

Contrary to certain members of my family may think (see the Kong story above), I love talking metal with people. Just ask anyone who dares to stop by the Decibel table at any given MDF and ends up using the excuse “I really gotta go see [random band not scheduled to go on for another three hours]” as a way to get away or at least get me to shut the fuck up. However, you can probably sympathise with me during those times when I’m walking around humming “Jump in the Fire” (or anything off of Kill ‘em All for that matter), someone asks what I’m humming and I end up on receiving end of either confused stares or condescending looks from the faces of those idiots I seem to regularly encounter who go on about the virtues of the post-Black Album years and still have little to no knowledge of Metallica’s first four albums. I can understand not being a fan of a band’s particular eras – outside of the hits, most of you reading this probably have spotty knowledge of anything beyond those first four albums – but it’s hard for me to even imagine that there are people out there who consider themselves fans and still have no idea that Kill ‘em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, or …And Justice For All even exist. At the same time, no one should ever enter a conversation with anyone who doesn’t think Master of Puppets rules.

RAW POWER –“State Oppression”

How do you tell someone with no concept or, or experience with, music that’s outside of “whatever’s on the radio,” let alone vintage hardcore punk, that one of the greatest songs of all time only has three chords to it? How about the difficulty involved in trying to explain to your garden variety prog metal dweeb who worships at the altar of Dream Theater, loves meandering songs with a million parts, a million more notes, millions of more solos and that those rickety three chords, played as sloppily and loosely as they are, possess more musical worth and value than the totality of Dream Theater’s discography?

RUSH – “YYZ”/PRIMUS – “John the Fisherman” (Suck on This version)

This one is kind of my own fault as I will undoubtedly go out of my to fuck with people when I’m in that sort of mood. Those of you familiar with Primus’ Suck on This know that they open the album with a jam on Rush’s “YYZ” as a lead-in to “John the Fisherman.” You can see where this is going. As a Canadian, if I’m humming said riff and some Neil Peart-fellating, fellow Canucklehead get me in his crosshairs in order to share any amount of shared excitement with a new Rush buddy, I’ll tell him that I’m actually singing “John the Fisherman” and watch his blood boil before he gets on the horn to the Canadian consulate demanding the government revoke my passport and kick me out of the country. On the other hand, you’d be surprised how many Primus fans there are who don’t know Rush and think Les Claypool wrote that riff…