Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Riff salad cookoff 2K9

I'm not sure why, but for some reason metal fans (and especially metal musicians) fetishize technique like Mortiis slurping on a stinky toe. It's as though a band is only as good as the number of notes they play per second. This isn't a new phenomenon, but as the bar gets raised higher and higher, it leads to what we like to call "riff salad," or albums that might as well be a collection of blindingly fast, yet incredibly boring, riffs thrown into a Salad Shooter and spit out the other end, topped with a sprinkling of Willowtip logos. With that in mind, we decided to have a cookoff at our Mid-Atlantic Innovation Center to find out who has the best recipe for riff salad (or worst, as the case may be)! We will rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 Unique Leader logos, with 10 being the ultimate in riff salad.

They got access to the Nocturnus cloning machine and made two copies of the douchelord in the middle.

Deeds of Flesh
Let's start with the inventors of this wretched genre. Once upon a time, Deeds were a great band. I loved the first EP and "Trading Pieces." The drummer for Odious Sanction gave me a cassette dub of it in 1997 and it not-so-gradually melted my 19 year old brain. Those records were super technical, yet also really catchy, with good songwriting. But then came "Inbreeding The Anthropophagi" or whatever the fuck it's called, I'm not looking it up. They traded their once-sick riffs for non-stop tremolo picking and double bass. I looked at the sky and said, to borrow a phrase, "Sir, have I wronged you in some way??" Whatever the case may have been, Deeds had officially jumped the shark and created the dull, lifeless genre known as riff salad. Subsequent albums just got worse and worse. You can just feel the energy leave the room when you put on "Path of the Weakening," and "Reduced to Ashes" reduced me to napping.
Verdict: 9/10 Unique Leader logos

Invisible oranges? Check. Fat guy with a goatee and shaved head? Check. If it looks like a duck...

When the self-titled Origin record came out back in 1999, it ripped my face completely off my skull. I still listen to it pretty regularly, largely for the unique drumming and strange song structures. It sort of sounds like if you took a death metal band and threw them down the stairs while they were playing- in a good way. I especially like "Vomit You Out." Sadly, though, all their other records are the most boring of boring shit that ever bored! It's just one long blast with the tweedly sweep picking or whatever over it, which is a real shame considering how groundbreaking and original their first record was. Although all copies of their newer records should be buried in a landfill like all those unsold copies of "ET" for Atari 2600, the self-titled one is so excellent that I am going to give them a relatively modest riff salad ranking. Also, it's Valentine's Day and I think I have a Valentine, so I'm feeling nice.
Verdict: 7/10 Unique Leader logos

This reminds me of those displays of high school senior photos that you see at the mall where the kid is holding his baseball mitt or whatever.

I'm switching it up a bit here but venturing outside the world of death metal. But just because these guys don't have "tion" or "ment" in their name doesn't mean they aren't riff salad! Their songs are as Salad Shooter as it gets, only the kids like them because they are all about castles and white pride. Also, they were in Guitar Hero- but so what? Kim Wilde is in Singstar and you don't see the kids on her jock. In any case, I like a little fantasy metal here and there: sometimes after a rough day at work I'll draw a bubble bath, light some candles and relax while I bust Rhapsody on the Bose Wave CD player. But let's be honest, this shit sucks. This band is a dumb cartoon and they play too many fucking notes. The last part is the real problem, because I like plenty of bands that are dumb cartoons (Cynic, for example).
Verdict: 6/10 Unique Leader logos

This is from when Decrepit Birth was the most ass-ripping brutal death metal band on the face of the earth. What happened?! Why did you succumb to the siren song of Florideath?!

Decrepit Birth
Are you seeing a trend here?? Once great band loses focus, gets too far up their own asses and turns into riff salad? Decrepit Birth is perhaps the most tragic case of them all. "And Time Begins" is, without question, a game-changing classic that is without equal. I think I speak for everybody when I say that I felt like I got raped by a profoundly retarded baboon with AIDS when I heard that record (in a good way!). It still stands as the most over-the-top execution of the Suffocation formula, or more precisely the early Deeds of Flesh formula. But then they listened to Cynic and Atheist too much and turned into riff salad on their second album!!! Rather than try to use my own crude language to describe the feelings of betrayal that tore my heart into pieces, I will capture my anguish with the lyrics to "Stabbed In The Back" by Youth of Today:
We were brothers you and me loyal to our hardcore brutal death metal scene
our thought our aims our goals were true
then something happened to you you changed
stabbed in the back
I remember all the things that you said
shit you said
I guess it was just a bunch of lies
fucking lies
stabbed us all in the back
right in the back
don't you dare look me in the eyes
all we stood for, all our dreams you've forgotten what they mean
I tell you this my thoughts are real and I'll never change the way I feel

Verdict: 7/10 Unique Leader logos

Every riff salad band looks like this! What is it with the fucking goatees?! The Nazi-looking dude in the bomber jacket obviously dies his- Hitler would be disgusted.

The guy in the jacket sort of reminds me of Gene Hoglan's Balls! I'm sure he will disagree, though. He would never wear that.

Odious Mortem
Gene Hoglan's Balls loves this band. Maybe I would have too when I was 14 and just wanted to hear bands play as fast as they could with no regard for songwriting or dynamics. But I'm not 14 anymore so listening to the singer go "Grrrr grrrr!!" and the rest of the band go "Skronk skronk blast blast!!" just makes me want to run to the catchy grooves of Cock and Ball Torture or Dead. As these bands go, they're pretty good, but that's like saying it's better than a sharp stick in the eye, you know? Plus they're on Willowtip, which means they're not as ignorant as I'd like them to be. I'm pretty sure that dude grew up on hardcore so he's too smart to put out good death metal. If he was a real metaller he'd sign Gorevent and Disconformity. He's probably too busy jamming Abnegation and Green Rage for that, though.
Verdict: 8/10 Unique Leader logos


The first two Cryptopsy records are fucking classics of brutal, yet super catchy and all around awesome death metal. They sound just as good today as they did 15 years ago or whenever the fuck they came out. Then they got rid of Lord Worm and started to practice their instruments too much or something, and became an extremely boring, overly technical riff salad band that forgot how to write songs. If only that was the end of the story, though! Now they are a pseudo-deathcore band so shitty that even I, the man with absolutely no standards, can't tolerate listening to them for more than a single second before I claw at the nearest sharp object and jam it in my eardrums. They managed to make it into an even bigger shit sandwich by putting on retarded Lacuna Coil-style latex JNCOs with excessive buckles and straps. Dudes, you're in your fucking mid 30s!! You can't do that shit! So yeah, their new crap makes me yearn for their riff salad days!
Verdict: 7/10 Unique Leader logos

Erik Rutan and John Tardy apparently go to the same barber/wig store

Hate Eternal
They may not have invented riff salad, but they definitely fucking perfected it!! Holy shit this band is boring!!! The most interesting thing this band ever recorded is the explosion at the beginning of "Conquering The Throne." Actually I really like that one instrumental song "The Faceless Ones," because it sounds like they took a few minutes to think about writing an actual song, rather than just firing up the Salad Shooter. I honestly have no idea how you could keep a band like this together for 12 fucking years. I can see how it would be kind of fun to spend a weekend with your friends goofing around and playing some crazy riff salad just to get it out of your system, but make a career out of it?! I'd rather be toiling away in the salt mines of Blue Grape with Guav and Buske, dreaming about how we'll make it big when we bring back Cabal 315!! Anyway, Hate Eternal wins our riff salad cookoff! Yay them! They get a gold star.
Verdict: 10/10 Unique Leader logos


  1. Normally I would not complain but how the hell did you forget about Necrophagist? If there's one nonsensical hypertechnical metal-fan-wanking-stimulator band is Necrophagist!

  2. fuck hate eternal is the most boring crap ever.

    saw them live a couple of weeks ago, headlining for misery index and others. I was late for misery index so I missed them and I stick around for about 10 min with hate eternal on stage until I just got bloody sick of it and I left.

    I recall i heard something like "stay brutal" at the end of a song and singers face expression were just priceless. Why some people still take themselves so seriously?

  3. If ever there was a truly redundant genre this would be it, so many of these bands sound like a modem vomiting tentacle porn through pro-tools especially dragon force, its the musical equivalent of bukkake.

  4. Brilliant post, I hate all this twiddly twiddly Death Metal shit as well, but I think Dragonforce really wind me up like nothing else. Even their name makes me burst out in hives. I'm sweating now, just thinking about them!

    I liked it in the olden days before the Myspace kids ruined it all!!

  5. You totally hit the nail on the head with the Hate Eternal and Cryptopsy parts of the article. I actually like brutal death metal, but when I listened to the latest Hate Eternal it was just noise and double base. What good are technical riffs when they are played so fast as to blur together into "riff salad?" Fuckin' junk! I think you were a little hard on Deeds of Flesh, though. Path of the Weakening and, especially, the new one are filled with memorable riffs and varied song structures.

  6. Mick made a good point with Necrophagist, and a few other come to mind for me (i.e. The Faceless, Spiral Architect). Perhaps you should have a round two and a then a playoff! I'm enjoying this though, riff salad music happens to be one of my guilty pleasures :D

  7. For real, dude, where is PSYCROPTIC? I mean, I'm dumb enough to actually like them, but their guitarist can't stick to one riff for more than like 15 seconds.

  8. Arsis? Anyone? Arsis?

    Their last album was a guitar wankery shit pile with excessive technical overproduced drumming.

  9. some good additions, i hate all those awful bands! i like some tech death as much as the next guy (for example early Decrepit Birth or Oppressor), but what i cant handle is excessive tremolo picking. thats just repeating the same note; a lack of imagination. thats why Obituary are so awesome, every note counts!

  10. great post. my 2 cents:

    1) the new cryptopsy. it's been said to death already, but i must reiterate...WAT.

    2) demoniac was a fucking GREAT band, silly nazi lyrics and all. "stormbringer" and "the fire and the wind" are amazing albums that get regular playtime from me. total black speed metal attack.

    "hitler metal...sieg heil!!"

  11. i wish demoniac had lyrics about making skin lamps out of short asian guys with horse length hair...

  12. What about Death? I love Chuck Schuldiner and all, but The Sound of Perseverance is total riff salad.

    To be honest, I like all this tech stuff--but I also like Rottrevore.

  13. Herman Ri is cool!

  14. The first time I saw that shaved head/goatee/anton lavey look was at the milwakee metal fest in like 1994. suddenly, there was like four bands that all had one guy with that look. perhaps one was internal bleeding with a new singer? i forget.

    Death had riffs that could go on for days, but they were catchy-ish...even at their worst. at least that's my opinion....since i write on this blog, my opinion is worth three times that of anyone else.

  15. Great post, but I've done plenty of research to the origin of the bald head/goatee - anton lavey looks resurgence and i found the source.

    There was this PC videogame that came out in 1995 when i was a kid called Command and Conquer. Well take a guess at what the bad guy (Named Kane) looks like.

    I swear to god, every fucking show i go to and i see a guy who looks like that onstage im like "fuck man I cant get away from that guy." Then i shout FUCK NOD its all about GDI, bitch! a couple of times dudes started cracking up cause they knew what i was talking about.

    dont believe me? Prepare to be amazed.


    BTW: I went to the summer slaughter tour and with all that fast superflous bass playing, guess what happenned to cryptopsys bassist string ON THE FIRST SONG! lulz!

    But yeah I'm going to a show called the california metalfest which the lineup has carcass and exodus which is cool, but since Decrepit Birth is on the bill I'm afraid there may be alot more "greeny, leafy, bands" on the roster if you know what im saying. so can you guys do me a favor and inform me to the best of your knowledge which bands on this list you would classify as riff salad, so i wont bee in for too much dissappointment i'd really appreciate it.

    Btw my GF wants to go to deacide and vital remains this sunday, but she'll be in vegas, so I thanki the gods that I'm spared going all the way to the key club just to hear glen cancelled.and BTW doesnt the guy from Vital Remains have "The Kane" thing going on too?

  16. oops heres a better version of the link

  17. SHIT! what the hell!

    well ill post the link in two pieces since i suck at this. jsut chain the two together, you know...

    so who is riff salad?

  18. technical death metal is such a wasteland of a genre. so many boring, stupid bands all playing the same dumb shit to the same handful of nerds that spend all day watching youtube videos of guitar solos and posting on message boards. there's a couple bands i can get into, like decrepit birth and odious mortem (guilty pleasure), but the majority of these bands could fall off the face of the earth and no one would care.

    i do have to disagree with your assessment of decrepit birth. i think "diminishing between worlds" is even better than "...and time begins." i don't really hear much riff salad on that album. it's very melodic and full of great, chunky riffs. they took the best parts of technical death metal and combined that with cynic and later era death worship to make something that sounds new and interesting.

    hate eternal really is the most boring band ever.

  19. I think there's an important distinction between riff salad and plain old wank bands. Necrophagist belong with Dream Theater in the wankers camp. Protip: riff salad bands will have bald dudes bent over and shaking one hand to the blasts

  20. Sarge,
    i love your constant references to 90's sXe moshcore bands. it really adds a fresh dynamic to your posts that perhaps the other guys dont get.

    i saw Green Rage at a syracuse fest in 1993, with a bunch of other bad bands that sucked (Chokehold rules). they bastardized "live it down" by Integrity, hahaha.

    sorry this has nothing to do with riff salad, but i do like when Takashi from Revenge of the Nerds, is mixing around the liquid heat on the Alpha Beta's jock straps and he says: "OOhh, Its like salad"!

  21. I once saw an video interview with Mohammed Suicmez of Necrophagist where he had a bodyguard. Probably to protect him from being overrun by guitar geeks asking how he did that thing at 3:43 in that one song. Those are the risks of playing in a wank band (I agree on there being a difference between wank bands and riff salad. Wank bands are for guys with Asperger's who when they are not practicing on their guitars or making lists of their favorite guitarists are having Star Trek vs Star Wars discussions. Riff salad is for guys with so much testosterone that can only appreciate things by their brutality. The best movie for them is the one with the most explosions and the most erotic porn the five dicks in one hole variety.)

  22. who said there's anything wrong with 5 dicks in one hole?

  23. Buske and I actually toil away on Dragonforce merchandise from time to time :)

  24. Savage, I believe you are referring to this show:

  25. Totally off topic, but I love that you guys are like nails on the chalkboard to the Metal Injection readers. Keep up the amazing work.

  26. oh gawd. i'll admit to liking all of those except for fucking dragonfarce. i even have a playlist which is an all-star shred/blast diarrhea collection of immense proportions, which i've lumped into a playlist with all my guttural slam shit, just because. check out internal suffering's "awakening of the rebel" for starters. krisiun's first album is exactly my cup of tea.

  27. Not that my opinion means shit..but I'm gonna share it anyways. I agree with most of the post except for a couple of things. Odious Mortem being one of them. The songs are technical, however, they are also pretty damn catchy. Perhaps listening to all of that screamo crunk has rendered the communication between your ears and brain useless when attempting to form an opinion of good songwriting.

  28. some great comments! love the command and conquer reference!!! and good call on shaking the hand to blasts!!

  29. You hit the nail on the head with this one Sarge! I have no attention span as it is and these bands are putting out songs of them jerking off their guitars for way longer then they should. Cryptopsy has to be the biggest disappointment of them all. After "none so vile" they shit the bed musically and Lord Worm's replacement was equally shitty.

  30. I love Hate Eternal. At their best (the first two discs) they're super catchy and really dissonant at the same time. It's the production on "Fury & Flames" which puts it into the "Psychocandy" camp of "not much to listen to when you strip away all that noise."

    I have yet to make it through an entire song by that double kick snorefest Origin.

    Cynic's "Focus" and Watchtower's "Control & Resistance" are the two greatest comedy albums I own.

  31. chokehold was great! at least back then. i haven't heard them in like ten years. but back in the day...they was my jam!

  32. don't leave psyopus or beneath the massacre alone

  33. We should also mention Between the Buried and Me and all those other wack "metal" bands that hardcore kids listen to (Psyopus, Crotchduster,etc.) who don't even try to write a coherent song, but instead choose to take 8 or 9 distinct parts that could be made into a song and mashing them all together into a shitty, nonsensical mess.

  34. mike, YES. that shit is even worse than riff salad, for many reasons that i probably don't need to go into here. that said, POSERS are at the top of the list of those reasons!

  35. I'm kind of surprised that no one's mentioned Nile, who come up with a decent riff every now & again but can't keep at it for more than 30 seconds before they bury it under an onslaught of "Egyptian-themed" double bass blur. And their songs go on forever too.

    I dig a lot of these bands but admittedly it can be tough to wade through an entire album of that shit in one sitting.

    I agree totally re: Hate Eternal, though, it's all just one big indistinguishable mess that's being forgotten even as you're listening to it. Which is also true of most of these other bands, I suppose, but HE is the dullest & least imaginative of the lot & aside from the drums the "musicianship" isn't really all that impressive either.

  36. I kind of like some technical death metal, like Psycroptic and Necrophagist, but thank fucking god you called out Hate Eternal. The only things I have ever heard and read about them are extremely positive and glowing, and I just don't get it. It's like Meshuggah. You turned your practice exercises into riffs, congratulations. The thought has seized even the best of us at times, I suppose, but seriously: After you get done warming up, you're supposed to start writing songs.

  37. I believe Braindrill deserves a mention as well.

  38. that guy from Origin (2nd from the right in the picture) totally works at my local Guitar Center. Seriously.
    He's a douche.

  39. GUAV!
    holy shit, you are right. that is the show. i had no idea it was the earth crisis record release. i drove all the way from chicago to see chokehold and outspoken. one thing though....i feel like there were at least 2 more bands that played that show. any idea?

    Lucho...about chokehold. yes, they are still that good today. i mean their first album is pretty weak, but everything else is great. the thing i really love about that band is the shitty, low-fi recordings they had. it kept them punk even though they were balls out moshcore.

    good stuff.

  40. the chokehold 7" was fucking awesome despite being PC bullshit. the best part was how they stole a biohazard riff. anyway i used to mosh my balls off to that record in high school.

  41. The farthest tech death I could digest is pretty much along the lines of Cynic, Pestilence and (later) Death. The good thing is these guys are actually really good songwriters. I believe songwriting has definitely taken a backseat over this whole "riff salad" shit. Thanks for coining that term.

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