Riff Of The Week: Grunge Edition


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Last week we opted for opulence and indulged ourselves with fancy-as-fuck riffs. As it turns out the final count ended up being a tie between Black Crown Initiate and The Devin Townsend Project. However, the most concerning aspect of the results was that the remainder of you voted for the fucking Barenaked Ladies over the actual metal put forward by Richter and I. May you all swiftly perish in a cyclonic miasma of ungulate effluvium. 

This week, as many of our community mourned the death of one of modern rock’s most iconic voices, we decided to focus on a genre we don’t often discuss much here – grunge. And I’ll be damned if we didn’t receive a butt(rock)load of submissions. There’s that many to get through I’m not going to have to awkwardly pad out time to give an introduction for the competition. Be sure to use the PROMO CODE BRAN after voting for your chance to win a bag of assorted O-rings.


Alice In Chains – “God Am” (Riff @ 0:25)

Being a Washington local, I wanted to do my best to show off some of the lesser-knowns of the WA Grunge scene like Gruntruck, Willard, Karp, etcetera, but I knew there was really only one band I knew would end up choosing to submit for ROTW: the one and only Alice in Chains. While some bands had a more happy or standard rock-oriented sound, AIC brought real ugliness and squalor to their songs that left you wanting to cry in a shower after they were over. 0:25 is the perfect riff to get the party cancelled.


Nirvana – “Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter” (Riff @ 0:37)

Witness me in all my plebdom as I submit the fruit that hangeth so low it’s basically a potato. I hope to somewhat redeem myself by at least not going with something off of THAT ALBUM (Breed would have qualified, after all). Great song title, and the riff at 0:37 is a frequent visitor in my head.


Tad – “Jack Pepsi” (Riff @ 0:38)

Since there’s not much variety on this tune, we’ll go with the pre-chorus riff at approx 0:38, just trying to go with a “Grun ge” band that isn’t as well known.


Soundgarden – “Mailman” (Riff @ 0:03)

It would have been wierd to send in anything other than Soundgarden this week, though I’m not going to sob any more than it was a great loss. In regard to the whole “are there any good grunge riffs?” Yes there are, the main riff of Mailman (0:03) and 4th of July of Superunknown both have great doom-esque riffs. I really don’t have a lot to say about the riff as it is simple and sweet.

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper

Alice In Chains – “Dam That River” (Riff @ 0:00)

Is it cheating to submit a riff I’ve already submitted before? Yeah, kinda.
Do I care? Hahahaha, no. This is still the tastiest riff grunge ever conjured up. Its from the very beginning of the song, so it’s pretty hard to miss too.

Lord ov Bork

Pearl Jam – “State Of Love And Trust” (Riff @ 0:00)

To pick a riff for this week, I hopped in my shitty 2002 SUV and threw on one of my embarrassingly numerous grunge mix CDs. “State of Love and Trust,” off the Singles soundtrack, came blaring out first. The riff at 0:00 is a perfect example of why Pearl Jam rocks so damn hard – it’s scratchy, slightly atonal and still melodic, and it gets in your head immediately.


Failure – “Frogs” (Riff @ 0:00)

This might toe the line between grunge and alternative rock, but the riff itself is too good not to share. Starts straight away with a filthy, crusty bass tone driving the introduction along with straining guitar feedback and a solid rock backbeat, before kicking into a dissonant-yet-catchy guitar riff that morphs through the rest of the song’s running time.


L7 – “Pretend We’re Dead” (Riff @ 0:00)

Grunge is pretty riffy in general. Nothing fancy, but very riff oriented. In this tune, the riff starts with the first note.

Howard Dean

Stone Temple Pilots – “Wicked Garden” (Riff @ 0:12)

It’s impossible for me to know what grunge and 90’s alternative rock mean to each of you, and it’s nearly as difficult for me to explain to you what they mean to me. I’ve always had a strange relationship with music of this sort because on the surface I shouldn’t respond to it the way I do. I didn’t fully come of age in their heyday, but the sounds of the era make me nostalgic for a period of time that wasn’t particularly formative, memorable, or even that happy for me. The music reminds me most of the way I was as a youth–hopeful and ripe with dreams and begrudgingly understanding of my circumstances. In the sounds I am reminded of a boy who held unbounded hope in what the years would bring–experiences oblique to those of his own present, and a life outside the mold of his heredity. I had many choices from this album. Tough to choose one. Riff is at 0:12 seconds


Alice In Chains – “All Secrets Known” (Riff @ 0:00)

While this is an outstanding riff all on it’s own, it gets even better with context.  Releasing an Alice in Chains album post-Layne Staley is either ridiculously gutsy or just plain stupid.  Cantrell knew he had to prove right away that it was the former, and boy, did he deliver.  This opening riff of the opening track to AiC’s comeback album is full of dark moodiness and brooding emotion, and I love the rhythmic ambiguity of the riff until the drums kick in with their slow, plodding beat.  Dig it.

Ted Nu-Djent

Soundgarden – “Gun” (Riff @ 0:03)

Grunge goes doom in the opening riff (0.03) of this song. Soundgarden really could bring the riffs back in their earlier days. Chris might be gone but these songs will be around forever.

Lone Biker Of The Apocalypse

Megadeth – “Take No Prisoners” (Riff @ 0:01)

As you can all see, I am a big cheater.  But as you can also see, Google, (the all-wise keeper of all recorded history) states that Megadeth are indeed a grunge band, and just think how much you use and trust Google.  Is Google wrong?  Have we all been fooled as to what true Grunge is?  To my Google-influenced ears, this is an awesome grunge riff!

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 26-05-2017 20:22:33
end_date 02-06-2017 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Who? (auto-translated from Yarlish)

Next week we’re looking for riffs from bands/songs you can’t pronounce the fucking name of. You know all those funny letters overseas people use to make pretend words? Ŧĥðşē ŏńë§. Even if the band/song name doesn’t contain any non-English characters but is just ostensibly unpronounceable to you, it qualifies. Don’t pretend you can’t pronounce Bolt Thrower though, you dickhead. To enter simply 

  • Send a link to your chosen riff to toiletovhellriff@gmail.com by Friday
  • Include a time-stamp of when the riff starts and your screen-name
  • Supply a short description of why you chose the riff and maybe how you would attempt to pronounce the name

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  • Riboflavin dreams

    A tie? Boy I should have voted.

    Also; ew Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam. That’s the Yarl end of Grunge music.

    • Eliza

      I personally don’t get why some people hate Pearl Jam so much. Eddie Vedder’s vocals aren’t as annoying as those people complain they are.

      • Riboflavin dreams

        They are fun to make of, though.

        • Eliza

          I’ll have to agree Pearl Jam misheard lyrics are pretty funny.

      • Windham Earle

        I liked ‘Ten’ for about 6 months, then got sick of it and haven’t cared since.

        • Eliza

          Ten is the only album of theirs that I’ve listened and I still like about half of the songs on it. Pearl Jam is not one of my favourite bands, but I think they’re good.

          • Windham Earle

            In case you’re wondering how my weekend was

          • Eliza

            Best possible weekend.

          • Windham Earle

            Yep, hung out with my best friend in the world for the first time in 5 years.

      • Pearl Jam lacks the riff power of bands like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden.

        • Eliza

          Are their songs are overall less memorable as well. Not bad in any way, though.

    • Howard Dean

      *flushes this poser down the toilet ov smellz*

  • Windham Earle

    I will vote for Dale Cooper’s riff, although I would rather puncture his aorta or steal his soul. ^_^

    • Windham Earle

      (Ed Note: Although I change my name quite a bit these days, I keep Master Shake on so people will know it’s me. blablabla)

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      How’s the new Twin Peaks?

      • Windham Earle

        To turn a phrase, it ain’t your daddy’s Twin Peaks. This is Peaks by way of Inland Empire and Mulholland Drive. Kyle Maclachlan is fucking killing it as both Dale and “Dale”. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9aca85def1dd28066405af44bf02add9c9c0642195049358bcde027109d6a617.jpg

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          “Peaks by way of Inland Empire and Mulholland Drive”

          Sounds like a good!


          • Windham Earle

            Bigtime. He has taken full advantage of it being on Showtime instead of ABC.

            Also, upvote for Sami. I love that guy.

        • GoatForest

          Oooo. Nice.

          • Windham Earle

            So great.

        • Óðinn
          • Windham Earle

            I didn’t say Twin Peaks by way of Russ Meyer… : (

          • Óðinn

            There’s something I like about Russ Meyer films.

          • Windham Earle

            Gee, I wonder what the appeal could be. (bounce bounce)

        • CT-12

          Agreed, McLachlan is killing it. Admittedly got a little nervous after only seeing the first and second episodes, but it’s growing on me more and more after seeing the remaining 2. It’ll never be what it once was, but I’m enjoying the direction it’s going so far, give or take a few little issues.

          • Windham Earle

            That scene when “Dale” pulls up to the cabin while that Lynchified remix of “American Woman” is playing is THE SHIT. I literally fist pumped when he got out of the Mercedes.

          • Windham Earle

            I would recommend reading ‘Secret History Of Twin Peaks’ by Mark Frost if you care to, fills in a lot of background, and gives an idea of what’s to come.

          • CT-12

            Saw the price of the book and cringed a little, but I’m curious to check it out.

          • Covfefe Kingston

            Was gonna send you the PDF, but it’s way too large. Ah well. : (

    • more beer

      Damn you are an angry shake today!

      • Windham Earle

        It’s a Twin Peaks ref. It’s taken over my brain since the 3rd season finally happened.

        • more beer

          I watched that in the 90’s. So remembering things from it are foggy too say the least. I have had no interest in revisiting it or watching the new season. It seems like too little too late,to me.

          • Windham Earle

            For what it’s worth, Lynch has done an excellent job. It’s on Showtime so he doesn’t have to kiss network ass anymore. It’s a lot more like one of his movies than the show.

          • Dougie Jones

            Lynch… Showtime… like movie…. excellent…

          • Dark Spirit of Cold Ural Mount


          • Windham Earle

            Which one, Mr Jackpot? Which one?

          • Windham Earle

            Isn’t it great?!! I love Evil Dale.

            (points at self ” Mr Jackpot!”

          • Óðinn

            Haven’t watched it yet. I’ve been worried that it might suck. Sounds like it does not suck.

          • Windham Earle

            It’s the opposite of suck, and I don’t mean blow.

    • Óðinn

      We maybe could have used a no AiC rule for this one. Too much low hanging fruit. Yeah, they’re the most accessible Grunge band in a genre that died quickly, but they weren’t even a part of Grunge initially. I like that you chose a Tad song.


      • Windham Earle

        I would say that pre-packaged honor goes to Pearl Jam.

        To me, AiC have always been just another great Hard Rock/Metal band. I’ve never seen them as “Grunge”.

      • Megadead™

        Definitely not a “pre-packaged” band. They went through a glam-y phase early on, but then Cantrell went full-on Iommi worship with his riffs. I think they’re “the most accessible Grunge band” (for metal fans especially) specifically because of the Sabbath influence. There are tons of people who hate grunge, but really dig AiC.

        • Óðinn

          It’s pretty radio friendly too.

    • Dougie Jones

      Windham Earle… Dougie Jones… vote riff… call for help

      • Windham Earle

        If you give me your soul, I’ll let her live… ^_^

        • Dougie Jones (Dale Cooper)

          Give soul… let live… Annie… call for help…

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Oh boy this brings the nostalgia. Now I just got to figure out how to choose between any of the submitted Alice In Chains (you know, the grunge band that was actually a metal band) riffs, the two Soundgarden riffs (seeing ‘Mailman’ is one of my favorite songs on Superunknown), HD’s Stone Temple Pilots riff (forgot how good that album is) or Lone Biker’s Megadeth riff (for the sneaky use of Google’s errorist ways).

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Speaking of L7’s “Pretend We’re Dead”: does anyone else reminisce the days of doing drive by’s and blowing shit up with Radio X blasting out of the speakers while cruising in your ’64 Impala?


    • Windham Earle

      Grove St 4 life, beeyatch!

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        Rockstar really needs to bring back some of that authentic atmosphere they had on Vice City and San Andreas for the next GTA games.

    • Jointsalot

      Radio X was the shit

  • tigeraid

    Shit, totally forgot about RotW, but I was honestly going to submit Wicked Garden anyway.

    • Windham Earle

      I would’ve probably gone for Crackerman, but I think that’s a single.

  • I agonized all week over the grunge one. I didn’t want to submit anything from the Big Four (or whatever) of grunge, so I thought I’d out-trve all of you by submitting some Canadian grunge that was popular on MuchMusic back in the day but never broke outside Canada. I Mother Earth, Moist, Rainbow Butt Monkeys, Sandbox, Rusty, Age of Electric, etc. But the best riffs were from singles, and a lot of the album tracks either weren’t on YouTube or didn’t have particularly remarkable riffs, so I gave up. 🙁

    “The Grunge Song” by the Vestibules is worth a listen for a cheap chuckle however.

    • JWG

      That would have got my vote.

      But also, too, IME’s “Dig” is a great album regardless of genre tagging, and I’d vote for those riffs too.

  • Eliza

    Hard not to go for Alice in Chains. I just need to figure out which AiC song it’s going to be.

  • Hans

    Tough choice. Can’t decide if L7 is actually good or just the most nostalgic for me.

    I won a bag of O-rings once and the idiots sent me 0-rings. Never again.

    • Eliza

      As someone who isn’t nostalgic for L7, I’d say they’re pretty good.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    I don’t mind stealing bread/
    From the mouths of fat old mennnnnnnnnnnnn

  • JWG

    Okay. So I retract my worry that there wouldn’t be a range of choices, since instead you’ve covered the entire list grunge bands everyone talks about when they talk about grunge. Other than Melvins.

    …Or Silverchair’s early career if you’re trying to be deliberately ‘international’ (don’t be: they aren’t).

    • Eliza

      Melvins were influential on the grunge sound, but I don’t think they’re straight up grunge.

      • JWG

        Weren’t. But then, I still willingly get into debates over AIC. I say no. Close friends say yes.

        Other acquaintances say ‘I’d rather listen to Top 40 radio’.

        We rarely agree on road trip tunes.

        • Óðinn

          I would argue that STP is actually a post-Grunge band. But whatever, if Megadeth counts then it doesn’t really matter.

  • JWG

    I, much like Positronic Brain, thought a bit about going with something grunge-adjacent (geographically speaking) from Canada; because my interest in Seattle grunge began and ended with AIC (as many have noted not just ‘grunge’ but actually metal) and Soundgarden (ditto, TBH). But then I just got lost down a YouTube rabbit hole and forgot to submit.

    I read somewhere that what music you discover in your early teens tends to be most formative of your later musical interests. Considering that I was leaning into metal then without even directly realizing it, maybe that was true…

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      I gotta watch this one again. Cranky Ray Milland and someone being devoured by lawn mowings are pretty cool things.

  • Cybro is a robit after my own heart. (And to clear up any ambiguity, the BAND is Failure and the SONG is “Frogs”.) Love you all!

    • That was the stealthy choice, for sure.

  • Count_Breznak
  • Dougie Jones

    Soundgarden… Mailman… doom riff… helloooOOoooooo!!!

    • Windham Earle

      Thank you Mr Jackpot!!!

  • Ugggghh. Been listening to a bunch of grunge lately since Chris Cornell died. I kind of want to pick something from AiC or Soundgarden because DUH, but I think I’ll go for the Failure riff, because they’re an underdog I happen to dig.

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    Lone Biker for pure audacity, but FBI agent because Dam That River freaking rules.

  • Óðinn

    Maybe Medadeth are Grunge. Plaid shirt, Layne Staley, other guy…. Grunge. 😉


  • Dark Spirit of Cold Ural Mount


  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
    • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

      So many good riffs on Houdini.

      • Óðinn