5. Black Sabbath "Paranoid" intro riff Tony Iommi is the fuckin' man. The way his guitar sounded back in the '70s was just evil compared to everyone else. Whether it had something to do with the way he layered distorted guitars on the recordings, or whether it was due to his playing style or missing the tips of his fingers or whatever.
4. Marilyn Manson "The Beautiful People" chorus riff Marilyn Manson has always had plenty tasteful guitar riffs. Like it or not, this riff has probably been stuck in your head from time to time, and that is because it is genius. A nice swinging feel sets the stage for an extremely repetitive, percussive guitar riff that is one of the best of all time.
3. KMFDM "Light", intro riff KMFDM had some gems back in the day when it came to combining heavy riffs and blending them with electronic music. People always told me they were just another "industrial" band, when really what I was hearing were amazing metal riffs being disguised by the electronic feel everything else. The riff in "Light", is one of the catchiest, most effective riffs I've heard in any song, totally suiting almost any genre well.
2. Metallica "Master Of Puppets", main riff This song as a whole is a masterpiece, but the verse riff contains some of the most aggressive palm-muting that I think has ever been recorded. Right off the bat when you hear that down-picked assault you know something heavy is going to follow, and even after countless listens I still find myself banging my head to it.
1. Pantera "I'm Broken", intro riff I read in an interview a long time ago that before it was ever in a song, this riff was one that Dime would just jam on during the afternoon sound check so they could dial his guitars in the right way. Bad ass. To me, this riff fully embodies the kick-ass southern metal that Pantera did so well.
** After the Burial's new album, In Dreams, is out now on Sumerian Records. Order it here.