Welcome, friends, to a brand new series that will revolve around one of my favourite things in the world: the wonderfully diverse universe of guitar riffs. More specifically, ten guitar riffs from a particular band that I personally find noteworthy from an enjoyment point of view – this isn’t a ‘Top Ten’ list!
Throughout our journey – which I am going to affectionately refer to as ‘Ten Tasty Riffs’ – we will be looking into the kind of riffs that just can’t help but stay in your head, and even the unlikeliest music fan has at least one that comes to mind. There is, after all, a good reason you will probably be silenced when attempting to play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in a guitar store: they got so sick of hearing it, the song was banned!
And so, kicking off our exciting journey, the first ten ‘Tasty’ riffs come from our favourite Swedish heavy metal outfit, Ghost!
#10 – Faith (Main Riff)
Sporting a thick tone and ridiculously infectious groove, the main ‘Faith’ guitar riff is everything Ghost gets right: a balance of heavier metal influences with a clear intention to entertain. Alongside Cardinal Copia’s sinister proclamation of ‘there is a scourge in the guise of sanctity’, the riff has such an undeniable bounce as it storms forward with bassy distortion, completely dominating the track and perfectly complimenting the brief but thrilling guitar solo that kicks in at the 1:20 mark.
On the surface, there’s nothing particularly special about the introductory ‘Ritual’ guitar riff: it’s a light, mostly palm muted twang with a few sprinklings of dissonant lead that quickly gives way to the far heavier affair of 0:28 onwards. Yet, despite its simplicity, it is an extremely recognisable opening to one of Ghost’s best tracks, succeeding in building a palpable anticipation before things kick in properly.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much I adore this song. ‘Ghuleh / Zombie Queen’ is such a bombastic ride from start to finish, going from sombre piano ballad territory through to surf rock and beyond. Honestly, it’s ridiculous. And amazing. But the particular guitar riff/lead I want to zero in on is the bridge section: the massive power chords combined with soaring dual leads at the 5:04 mark are absolutely thrilling.
#7 – Rats (Outro Riff)
This riff. This. Riff. It’s quite possibly the heaviest guitar riff of Prequelle and a huge fan favourite. If you’ve heard the song, you know exactly what I mean, and you know exactly why.
This guitar riff’s excellence needs absolutely zero explanation. When Metallica are filmed playing a Ghost riff, you know it’s noteworthy. It’s instant classic heavy metal and deserves its place among the greats.
Almost everyone who listens to this song is waiting for one thing: the brilliantly bombastic keytar solo. And you know what? It’s entirely justified, considering how much fun it is, but the guitar riffs featured in ‘Mummy Dust’ are easily some of Ghost’s heaviest to date. The introductory chugga-chug is gritty, gnarly riffage and wonderfully so.
Veteran listeners of Ghost need no lesson in how superbly versatile their catalogue is. From heavy metal, to surf rock, to prog-glam, Ghost’s best material is often unexpected and usually the result of experimentation. Cue ‘Body and Blood’, a song that has been interpreted to explore the escapades of a woman luring men with sex with the intent of killing and eating them. It just so happens that this particular track centred on cannibalistic tendencies also happens to be one of the cheesiest Ghost tracks to date(!), and the chorus guitar lead is playfully melodic as a result.
Okay, this one is a cheat, but I can’t not include it. The introductory bass riff to ‘From the Pinnacle to the Pit’ is ten seconds of some of the thickest, filthiest bass guitar I can think of and I love it.
It is with complete and total honesty that a full album version of the Seven Inches of Satanic Panic EP would probably end up being my favourite Ghost album ever. True, the ‘70s classic rock composition of sophomore effort Infestissumam certainly leans close, but the ridiculously entertaining energy of ’60s psychedelic rock-infused ‘Kiss the Go-Goat’s twangy main guitar riff and the following ‘Mary on a Cross’ shows Ghost at their most light-hearted.
Okay. Fine. This is probably the most obvious guitar riff I could have come up with, but who am I kidding: the catchy as hell main guitar riff of ‘Square Hammer’ belongs on this list and there’s no denying it. It might not be my favourite Ghost song by any means, but if we’re talking about guitar riffs that get stuck in your head this is certainly the one.
Friends, thank you for checking the AltWire debut of Ten Tasty Riffs! We look forward to seeing you next week for another instalment, but in the meantime what are some of your favourite Ghost guitar riffs?
Until next time!