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10 Best Hard Rock Riffs of the 2000s

Kevin Winter / David Wolff-Patrick / Mark Metcalfe, Getty Images

We’ve been looking at the evolution of the hard rock riff, and we’ve gotten to the turn of the century. The riff has come a long way since it was born some time ago and in our latest list we can see how it has evolved.

The early 2000s saw the rise of a whole new batch of hard rock and metal acts. Bands like the White Stripes, Baroness and A Perfect Circle found their audiences during this time. Meanwhile, other legendary bands like King Crimson, The Melvins and Corrosion of Conformity continued to put out amazing music. Thanks to these and other bands who’ve kept the faith, the art of the guitar riff is alive and well. We happily present to you our list of the 10 Best Hard Rock Riffs of the 2000s.


The_Power_to_Believe
10

'Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With'

King Crimson
 
 

King Crimson have been putting out amazing music for over 40 years. Their 2002 single, 'Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With,' was their ode to the angry, over-dramatic metal from the turn of the century, and is a perfect candidate for our list of the 10 Best Hard Rock Riffs from the 2000s. The opening riff mimics the radio metal from that time, but it's also super heavy. The verse riff grooves just before the off-kilter pre-chorus kicks in.

 
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9

'The Birthing'

Baroness
 
 

In 2007, Baroness dropped their first full-length release, 'Red Album.' It's full of riff-heavy songs with complex melodies and dramatic guitar work. The second track, 'The Birthing,' is full of amazing riffs from beginning to end. This song seems simple enough at first, but its simple-sounding opening riff belies the complex lead lines that make up the rest of the song.

 
deftones
8

'Elite'

Deftones
 
 

When the Deftones broke out in the '90s, they were all riffs. Their first two albums were among the heaviest out in the mainstream at the time. They would later start to explore moodier, more layered, less heavy music. But the track 'Elite,' from 2006's 'Saturday Night Wrist,' shows the band didn't forget how to be heavy. The riff for this song has that crisp-yet-ragged sound that the Deftones have perfected.

 
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7

'The Incomparable Mr. Flannery'

Clutch
 
 

The first decade of this century could be said to belong to Clutch, and no list of the 10 Best Hard Rock Riffs of the 2000s would be complete without a nod to them. Clutch released one amazing album after another, from 2001's 'Pure Rock Fury' to 2009's 'Strange Cousins From the West,' all showing the band's huge range, along with their ability to rock. 'Robot Hive/Exodus' has some of the band's most stellar work on it. 'The Incomparable Mr. Flannery' starts off with one of the sweetest guitar licks ever written, then moves on to a catchy, but still very heavy chorus.

 
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6

'Pet'

A Perfect Circle
 
 

With their second album, 'Thirteenth Step,' A Perfect Circle evolved their style from their first massively popular release. They retained their own unique sound, though. With 'Pet,' the band gets intensely heavy. A kick-snare combo starts the song off, and the intense guitars work together to move this track along.

 
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5

'Hot Rod'

Goatsnake
 
 

Goatsnake probably never got the full attention they deserved. They have consistently been one of the heavier bands to ever exist. When they put out the 'Trampled Under Hoof' EP in 2004, they included their Black Oak Arkansas cover, 'Hot Rod.' While they didn't write this iconic riff, they certainly made it their own. They play it in their signature down-tuning, giving it some extra sludge and a hint of evil.

 
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4

'It Is That Way'

Corrosion of Conformity
 
 

Corrosion of Conformity has been producing their own brand of heavy metal since the '80s, and they're still going strong today. 'It Is That Way' is a greasy riff-filled track from the 2005 album 'In the Arms of God.' This riff chugs along like a mountain on wheels, accompanied by guitar harmonies aplenty.

 
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3

'The Hawk'

The Melvins
 
 

'The Hawk' is so full of different amazing riffs that it defies belief. The whole song plays out like a barrage of punches from a prize fighter. For this album, '(a) Senile Animal,' Melvins founders King Buzzo and Dale Crover enlisted the help of the raging two-piece, Big Business. With a new bass player/singer and a second drummer, the band began churning out some of their heaviest music to date. Any song from this album would be a good fit for our list of the 10 Best Hard Rock Riffs of the 2000s.

 
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2

'Seven Nation Army'

White Stripes
 
 

While The White Stripes may not be considered a hard rock band on the whole, the Detroit duo has been known to bust out some fuzzed-out riffs from time to time. The intro bassline to 'Seven Nation Army' became instantly recognizable when it hit the airwaves. When the slide guitar kicks in, you just know that Jack White means business.

 
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1

'No One Knows'

Queens of the Stone Age
 
 

Queens of the Stone Age largely flew under the radar for the first few years after they formed. But that changed when they released their first single from 'Songs for the Deaf.' 'No One Knows' helped to remind rock and roll fans of the appeal of a good, strong guitar riff. The verse bounces along like a Jeep speeding through the desert. Then the song builds up into a massive affair before wrapping it all up neatly.

 

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