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10 Greatest Metal Riffs of the 1980s

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The 1980s was riff heaven for metalheads. With the advent of thrash and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal further advancing to metal’s forefront, a golden age of music ruled the decade.

Though Metallica are undoubtedly thrash’s most prominent band, there was no greater thrash riff master than Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman. The Slayer shredder penned dozens of iconic riffs, perhaps none more celebrated than “Raining Blood.” Three decades later, it remains one of thrash’s heaviest and most distressing riffs, as if it was handed to Hanneman by the dark lord himself.

Iron Maiden and Judas Priest both released their most celebrated works in the 1980s, both going the whole decade without a true dud in their respective catalogues. Priest entered the ‘80s with pure metal strength immediately with British Steel, giving us an incredible riff on “Breaking the Law.” Maiden’s standout ‘80s riff is arguably “The Trooper” from 1983’s Piece of Mind and it’s truly a song Maiden fan can hear every single tour without getting tired of the incredible guitar attack.

Ozzy Osbourne may have been booted from Black Sabbath, but he wasn’t done working with heavyweight riff lords. Recruiting guitar phenom Randy Rhoads, Ozzy struck back with “Crazy Train.” Who would have thought that after Tony Iommi‘s godlike collection of riffs from the ‘70s that Ozzy Osbourne’s fresh-faced guitarist would pen a riff that outdid any of Iommi’s work in the ‘80s? Some musicians, like Rhoads, simply beam with supernatural talent.

Check out our picks for the 10 Greatest Metal Riffs of the 1980s in the Loud List above!

10 Greatest Metal Riffs of the 1970s

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