RIFF or RAFF: Emperor vs. Revocation

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Today in RIFF or RAFF, our contestants battle it out for 7-string supremacy. This week the combatants are Emperor and Revocation. Two riffs enter, one riff wins.

Last week I asked you to submit the very best 7-string riff. Two noble warriors stepped up to deploy a B-string battalion. Esusmoose and Lief Bearickson have submitted gigantic riffage. It is up to you, dear reader, to choose who RIFFS and who RAFFS. The winner of this round will achieve eternal glory. Also, I will do a shitty MS Paint drawing of the winner.


Alright, two hundred words to cover why I love and why you should love this riff? Ha, easy, probably. Revocation switched to using 7 strings during the recording of their self-titled, and have kept to them, not always to obvious extents. A Debt to the Grave off their 2014 album Deathless is a banger of intro track and though less flashy the underlying riff at 3:43 is the real king riff of this song. A fairly simplistic chug riff that cements the melody beneath the guitarmonies that take center stage and it’s through the building of this simple riff that this album really starts to burn. Why do I love it? Because I’m a sucker for builds, especially ones that rip this hard. If I’m driving and it comes on I will be that idiot head banging with total disregard to safety because god damn, it’s a good riff. Why do I think you should love it? Because for all the plethora of riffs Revocation( *cough*Dave) has written I don’t feel there’s a riff as simple as this one that really elicits the same energy and fits so perfectly into the song. There’s no necessary music theory you need to be taught to get it, you don’t really need to even like the band, it’s a solid riff that builds itself into a beast. And then it’s over too fast (even if it lasts almost a minute), but fuck that, turn up your speakers/headphones/humming and play it again. Now I will go back to the toilet where only the void and suffering awaits. –Esusmoose


7 string guitars haven’t always been the crutch of hopeless metalcore chuggers and djenty farts in the wind that think that a lower tuning means heaviness. No, back in MY day before all these damned kids got on my lawn the guitar was a respected instrument, and an extra string on it was akin to a beautiful unicorn. No man rode that unicorn with more pomp and majesty than Isahn in the final days of Emperor. On the bands last studio album they began to integrate seven string guitars, and no song or riff quite shows the depth they added to the music like the riff in “The Prophet.”

After a bit of tease in the intro, they really come out swinging at 2:28 when the track transforms from a slow burn into seven stringed black thrashing madness. The riff hits with such an unexpected immediacy and force that you have no choice but to widen your eyes in amazement and prepare for the storm it’s about to launch. If the stop start chugging isn’t enough to get you amped it, it even includes a tasteful pinch harmonic flourish on the tail end that would make Zakk Wylde weep openly like the rest of us when we hear his music. I don’t think I can state it any more simply than saying that this riff rules. It strikes fast and out of the blue, it has a quick stop/start, and it shows a band at their most complex willing to just throw down and RIFF. –Lief Bearickson


It is time to decide.

NEXT WEEK I want you to send me your best CROSSOVER thrash/hardcore riff. Want to be the riff wizard? Here’s what you do:

  • Submit your riff at toiletovhell@gmail.com
  • Put “RIFF or RAFF” in the subject line
  • Include a link to a place where we can stream your song
  • Include the timestamp when the riff kicks in
  • Write 200-500 words about why you love this riff, and why we should love it too
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