10 Tasty Riffs – Celldweller


Ohhhh boy. Narrowing down to a mere ten ‘tasty’ Celldweller guitar riffs wasn’t easy.

Welcome, friends, to the second installment of Ten Tasty Riffs, my personal recurring series on the wonderful world of guitar riffs that catch my attention. To reclarify, this is by no means a ‘top ten’ or ‘best of’ list: there will be guitar riffs I inevitably haven’t touched on that are equally as notable, but these are at least ten that particularly stand out to me.

For those perhaps not familiar, Celldweller is the electronic rock brainchild of Klayton (also known for the Circle of Dust and Scandroid projects), and is generally considered his most successful project to date. You may not realize it, but you have almost certainly heard Klayton’s material through the many mediums it has successfully been distributed over the years, from movies to video games to television and beyond.

#10 – Eon (Main/Chorus Riff)
One of Wish Upon a Blackstar’s heaviest riffs, and easily one of the most recognizable of the Blackstar era: the main/chorus guitar riff of ‘Eon’ is a thick, drop tuned monster. Integrating seamlessly with Klayton’s screamed vocals and a huge percussive backbone, it swings back and forth with all the energy of a well-aimed right hook.

#9 – The Best It’s Gonna Get (Main/Chorus Riff)
A fantastic example of blending melody with heavier influences, ‘The Best It’s Gonna Get’s main riff is instantly recognizable to any Celldweller fan. Again utilizing the huge distortion of ‘Eon’, it’s a guitar riff that smashes through the mix with no mercy. Bonus points for the dirty bassline that follows soon after.

#8 – Heart On (Bridge/Breakdown Riff)
There’s something so immensely satisfying about a massive wave of guitar distortion punching you square in the face. I mean that with no exaggeration: the bridge riff of ‘Heart On’ at the 3:15 mark is an absolute blast and the slick scratch of guitar strings that are allowed to remain in the mix is a stroke of genius.

#7 – Gift for You (The “Flange” Riff)
Time for something a little more subtle: the flange-infected guitar lead of ‘Gift for You’. Honestly, ‘Gift for You’ is easily among my favorite Celldweller tracks, and this guitar lick is largely to blame for that. Sure, the delicious swells of dubsteppy bass are intoxicating to no end, and ‘Gift for You’ easily features one of Klayton’s more sinister vocal performances, but the atmosphere is what keeps me coming back. The atmosphere of ‘Gift for You’ is mesmerizing, and the flange-heavy guitar lick that crops up throughout is a huge part of it.

#6 – One Good Reason (Main Riff)
Ohhh boy. As soon as this guitar riff kicks in, it’s blindingly obvious ‘One Good Reason’ is a completely different beast within the debut Celldweller album. Easily the heaviest track of the eighteen track album (fifteen if we ignore the three ‘Cell’ interludes), ‘One Good Reason’ comes in late in its runtime, but the signature drop tuned power-chord main guitar riff (accompanied by some of the most aggressive screams of Klayton’s career) keeps listeners firmly invested.

#5 – End of an Empire (Main ‘Thrashy’ Riff)
The main guitar riff of End of an Empire’s title track is full on thrash metal madness. It’s excellent and I love it. More please.

#4 – Fadeaway (Verse ‘Heavy’ Riff)
Kicking in at the 0:21 mark initially, the heavier verse riff of ‘Fadeaway’ blends thick distortion and harmonics to instill a cocky back and forth as Klayton switches seamlessly between ambient synthesizers and explosive power chords, setting a perfect tone for one of Celldweller’s most versatile tracks. Bonus points for the sudden acoustic section at the 3:11 mark.

#3 – I Can’t Wait (Bridge Riff/Lead)
Referred to fondly by its own creator as his ‘Sabbath riff’ during demo commentary (featured on the Wish Upon a Blackstar [Chapter 04] EP), the ‘I Can’t Wait’ bridge riff juxtaposes the previous glitchy breakdown with exactly that: a heavy metal inspired lead that is instantly recognizable. Also, for any curious Celldweller fans out there, absolutely check out the individual Chapter… EP’s that predated the final release of Wish Upon a Blackstar – hearing Klayton’s commentary throughout the gradual creation of the tracks is extremely fascinating (if the process of music creation interests you).

#2 – A Matter of Time (Bridge Riff)
Speaking of heavy metal, that is exactly what the guitar riff of 3:16 is: a hard hitting power-chord frenzy that would perfectly fit in with any Metallica track. The newest Celldweller material has been a blast so far, and this riff is definitely part of that.

#1 – Down to Earth (Breakdown/Outro Riff)
This is the one. This is the Celldweller riff I always come back to. Kicking in at he 5:40 mark, the gradually building layers of the guitar leads and instrumentals finally culminate in a massive drum and bass/metal explosion at 6:11. It’s ridiculously fun and will probably always be my personal top #1 Celldweller riff. If you haven’t heard it, listen to the entire song and enjoy the crescendo.

Friends, that’s all for this week on Ten Tasty Riffs. Even since the creation of Circle of Dust and earlier Celldweller material, Klayton has always proven an excellent creator of catchy guitar riffs that stick in your head. Who knows, perhaps a Ten Tasty Riffs: Circle of Dust needs to be done…

Until then, what are some of your favorite Celldweller guitar riffs?

Want more tasty riffs? Check out the archive.

About the author

M. Stoneman

"If you combine horror movies, rock music and Silent Hill, I'm the result: a British writer who will likely gush over guitar solos and ambient horror game soundtracks.”
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