What happened to the riffs?

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DCooper727
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What happened to the riffs?

Postby DCooper727 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 1:56 am

This may be hard to explain, but I'm going to try my best. To me, as a purveyor of fine riffs, each AB album until TLH has had tremendous riffs. Each of them had their identity, so to speak, and then TLH came out, featuring a swath of beehives and muddy, unintelligible riffs that kind of blend together (seriously, the main riffs for Show Me a Leader, Writing, Poison and Losing Patience are all interchangeable due to how similar they are). This trend has continued on Walk the Sky, though not as bad, and I just don't understand why. There are still some awesome riffs on TLH (especially on the title track alone, that song is just a masterclass in riffs) but overall, no.

Literally every single album prior to TLH had epic riffs that are so unique and diverse, and I loved them, but it seems the band has been watering down that aspect of their sound. I know a lot of you will come to the rescue to the band and say this isn't the case, but I feel like there may be a few others out there who agree with my stance on this. It's just hard to listen to albums like Fortress, which featured insane riffs on Achilles, Addicted to Pain, Bleed It Dry, The Uninvited, Farther than the Sun, etc, and then to TLH/WtS where the riffs just aren't as creative.

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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby gbruin » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:03 am

I kind of felt the same at first but have noticed them better when listening to WTS on higher end equipment and getting more familiar with the songs as a whole. They're more there than I thought, but they are harder for me to distinguish, and I can't tell yet how unique they are from track to track (i.e. is this Fortress or TLH).

But my ears are a lot of years older these days, too. I wonder if that legit has something to do with it.
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DCooper727
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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby DCooper727 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:08 am

The bad production is 100% not helping this issue, either. Walk the Sky isn't as egregiously bad in terms of riff creativity as TLH, but the riffs aren't up to par with the rest of their catalogue, in my opinion. I don't hate Walk the Sky, but I won't pretend that it exists in a vacuum, either. Their other albums exists, that's just a fact, which I know is ironic when talking about something so subjective like riff quality, but still. Mark and Myles are known for writing insane riffs, and I just wish their creativity would come back in this area.

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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby TheEndisHere » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:12 am

Huh? I'd say that WTS has some good riffs that are clearly memorable. WYR, forever falling, native son, indoctrination all have memorable riffs that get stuck in my head.

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Jesterhead92
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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby Jesterhead92 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 7:53 pm

I mean, I just think it's hard to keep coming up with iconic riffs for this long in their career, especially with all the other projects getting tons of riffs getting written for them.

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Andy92
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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby Andy92 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 8:37 pm

Jesterhead92 wrote:I mean, I just think it's hard to keep coming up with iconic riffs for this long in their career, especially with all the other projects getting tons of riffs getting written for them.

I think there’s something to be said here. Take Metallica’s newest album for instance. There’s some really good riffs on it, but it’s hard to keep churning out Master of Puppets level riffs that immediately stick in your head.

Sometimes simpler riffs are way more memorable too. Enter Sandman is a huge riff and it’s stupid easy to play on guitar. Some earlier AB riffs like Come to Life aren’t that difficult either, but the catchiness sticks in your head.
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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby MuffinMcFluffin » Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:29 pm

Andy92 wrote:
Jesterhead92 wrote:I mean, I just think it's hard to keep coming up with iconic riffs for this long in their career, especially with all the other projects getting tons of riffs getting written for them.

Sometimes simpler riffs are way more memorable too. Enter Sandman is a huge riff and it’s stupid easy to play on guitar. Some earlier AB riffs like Come to Life aren’t that difficult either, but the catchiness sticks in your head.

Can someone tell AB that, then? I think they think they have to get more complex, come up with different tunings, have nine things going on as Myles is just churning out a verse, etc.

There is a reason why I think Blackbird is the greatest solo of all time, and it has nothing to do with the complexity. Even then, at the very end of it when Mark starts hammering it on fast, I am wowed over it... yet he has had much faster and more complex moments probably before and since then.

I mean shoot, listen to that Shed My Skin intro.

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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby Andy92 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:30 pm

The flip side to my comment would be that just because a lot of simple riffs are more memorable, it doesn’t mean they’re easy to come up with lol. If that were the case you’d see guitarists in every band writing their own unique “simple riffs.”

I do agree there’s been a bit of a trend on the last two albums where the guitar work hasn’t quite jumped out like it did in past albums. It’s good work, but not as many signature moments. This new album in particular seems much more songwriting focused than it seems guitar focused, but I can live with that because I like the songs. That wasn’t always the case on TLH.
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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby Arctic » Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:42 am

Blackbird is my favorite album for simple yet awesome riffs throughout the record. I love WTS but I agree that they haven’t been nailing that part of their sound for the past couple of albums.
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Dolo
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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby Dolo » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:02 am

I think the production is the issue. There are some pretty cool riffs on this album but it's all lost in the number of layers Elvis decided to provide.

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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby One Drew Remains » Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:59 pm

I agree with that. I also feel like AB was new in the BB era, so it stands out.

By contrast, six AB records, and like 5 solo records have brought a lot of familiarity to us. So I feel like it's harder to surprise us now.
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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby Blackbird » Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:36 am

Amazing riffs on TLH:
- Cradle To The Grave (intro/chorus, bridge)
- Island of Fools (yeah, it's simple, but it's fucking awesome)
- The Other Side (bridge - the riff accompanying "Fools will only be denied, there will be no paradise")

Not heard WTS enough to be able to really judge the album in regards to riffs because whenever I'm listening to new music, I usually listen to the melodies first before I pay close attention to things like bad-ass riffs. My current feeling is that WTS indeed has a lower focus on those.

EDIT: By the way, I don't think that Mark or Myles are running out of ideas. There are some incredibly good riffs on A Dying Machine, e.g. the title track or Make It Hurt.

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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby abw1987 » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:25 am

I beg to differ with the premise of this topic. WTS is chock-full of awesome riffs. In fact, I took a listen through with the express purpose of noting each badass riff I noticed. The particularly cool ones are bolded:

  • Wouldn't You Rather
    • Main riff (used in intro, outro, and verses)
    • Bridge riff
  • In the Deep
    • Main riff (used in intro, outro, and choruses)
  • Native Son
    • Main riff (used in intro and choruses)
    • Verse riff
    • Pre-chorus riff
    • Bridge riff
  • Take the Crown
    • Pre-chorus riff
    • Second half of verses
  • The Bitter End
    • Bridge riff (also used in pre-choruses and outro)
  • Pay No Mind
    • Verse riff
    • Pre-chorus riff
    • Bridge riff
  • Forever Falling
    • Pre-verse riff
    • Bridge riff
  • Clear Horizon
    • Main riff (e.g. leading into the second verse)
    • Second verse riff
    • Choruses
    • First bridge riff
  • Walking on the Sky
    • Chorus riff
  • Dying Light
    • Main riff (e.g., the intro)

Probably overkill but I just wanted to point out that there is no shortage of badass riffs on Walk the Sky.

I think Andy gets it right here:

Andy92 wrote:It’s good work, but not as many signature moments. This new album in particular seems much more songwriting focused than it seems guitar focused, but I can live with that because I like the songs.


Their work has gotten more complex with each album, and nowadays it seems they are more focused on crafting intricate music as seasoned writers, rather than building songs around a single standout riff.

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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby gbruin » Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:26 pm

I think you're right, abdubs, but it's just hard for me to hear them clearly and distinguish them on average equipment (like my iPhone and ear buds where I do much of my listening) so they don't stand out the way the did on ODR and BB and III. I love the added layers of keys/synths/pedals on WTS but they dampen the in-your-faceness of the riffs, at least to me. There is nothing dampening White Knuckles or Watch Your Words.
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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby abw1987 » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:40 pm

Agreed – it's certainly tougher for the riffs to stick out when they're surrounded by so many layers. I'm glad they've evolved their sound but it does require listening on higher-end gear to fully appreciate everything, core riffs included. "Watch Your Words" is a perfect example of how their older material contrasts against WTS in this regard.

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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby littledreamer » Sun Nov 17, 2019 1:12 am

It's very very hard to hear the riffs due to the production, in particular the overpowering kick drum.

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Re: What happened to the riffs?

Postby jailman » Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:27 am

DCooper727 wrote:This may be hard to explain, but I'm going to try my best. To me, as a purveyor of fine riffs, each AB album until TLH has had tremendous riffs. Each of them had their identity, so to speak, and then TLH came out, featuring a swath of beehives and muddy, unintelligible riffs that kind of blend together (seriously, the main riffs for Show Me a Leader, Writing, Poison and Losing Patience are all interchangeable due to how similar they are). This trend has continued on Walk the Sky, though not as bad, and I just don't understand why. There are still some awesome riffs on TLH (especially on the title track alone, that song is just a masterclass in riffs) but overall, no.

Literally every single album prior to TLH had epic riffs that are so unique and diverse, and I loved them, but it seems the band has been watering down that aspect of their sound. I know a lot of you will come to the rescue to the band and say this isn't the case, but I feel like there may be a few others out there who agree with my stance on this. It's just hard to listen to albums like Fortress, which featured insane riffs on Achilles, Addicted to Pain, Bleed It Dry, The Uninvited, Farther than the Sun, etc, and then to TLH/WtS where the riffs just aren't as creative.


havent thought of this but I think youre right. I've thought this from Day 1, that Last Hero sounded kind of forced. Like they were trying to do something different just for the sake of doing something different. There are some decent songs, and most of the songs are listenable, but it doesnt stack up to the rest of the catalogue.

On the new album, the songwriting is a lot better and that overcomes whatever lack of riffage there might be.


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