As originally posted on vh1.com here.
Compiling a list of the most influential modern metal guitar players is intimidating. There was no way to do this without pissing a bunch of people off. I did my best to quantify which guitar players’ mark was being felt the most by the up and coming generation of new bands and musical movements in the realm of all things heavy. Whose legacy stood the test of time? Why is player “A” more influential than player “B”? Is there empirical evidence to support these arguments? These are the burning questions. There are some tremendously phenomenal players who did not make this list because their significance will not be known for some time. There are some players who made a big splash initially, but stature has waned in recent years. There are some genres like Black Metal where I had difficulty pinpointing 1 or 2 specific players that stood out among the slew of pioneers.
It (arguably) all started when Tony Iommi lost his fingers in a machinist accident, but metal guitar has come a long way in 50 years. Enjoy this list in all of its imperfect glory!
1. Dimebag Darrell – Pantera, Damageplan
Dimebag Darrell is definitively the most influential metal guitarist of the last 25 years. He is to the 1990s what Eddie Van Halen was to the ’80s and Jimi Hendrix was to the ’60s. His precise thrash chops are on full display on tracks like “Shattered” and “F-cking Hostile”, and yet Dime also knew how to keep the riffs simple and grooving with iconic songs like “Walk” and “5 Minutes Alone”. This sparse, low-end, bluesy chug was the blueprint for post-thrash, nu-metal, and metalcore in the subsequent years. From the solid-state behemoth crunch, signature squeals, and peerless lead playing, everything he did was 100% his own style. Despite his monumentally vast influence, we still have not found the heir apparent to Dimebag’s throne. He is irreplaceable, and I am just thankful for the legacy he left. RIP.
To see all 20 guitarists included and why they were picked and where, go here.