The Top 25 Modern Metal Guitarists

#25: PAUL RYAN (ORIGIN)

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MetalSucks recently polled its staff to determine who are The Top 25 Modern Metal Guitarists, and after an incredible amount of arguing, name calling, and physical violence, we have finalized that list! The only requirements to be eligible for the list were that the musician in question had to a) play metal (duh), b) play guitar (double-duh), and c) have recorded something in the past five years. Today we kick off our countdown with Origin’s Paul Ryan…

Tragically, it seems like there are a lot of people don’t even know who Paul Ryan is, and a lot of those who do know who he is dismiss him as just another trend-following guitarist — albeit a talented one — in the death metal scene. An awfully large amount of metal fans just view Origin as “that tech death band with that really fat vocalist and crazy sweeps,” but James Lee’s recent departure should hopefully clear shit up for people.

Paul Ryan is actually one of the most skilled pioneers of the tech death scene, primarily because he doesn’t just use technicality to create mindless and forgettable wankery (see: Brain Drill et al.) and because he doesn’t just use heaviness to create mindless and forgettable breakdowns (see: Oceano et al.) It’s pretty sad that the majority of other bands these days are so bad, but it’s great for Ryan — his skill stands out from among the masses.

He’s got nearly immeasurable chops, but unlike similarly talented guitarists, he incorporates his unique sweep style into the riffing and even the basslines instead of just in the solos. In this day and age, it’s hard to make sweeps sound heavy — or even entertaining, now that they’ve been heard a thousand times over — but Ryan somehow manages to make his sweeps be almost catchy, slipping them into passages mixed with tremolo picking and brutal chord measures.

Check out the song “Antithesis,” the title track of Origin’s last album, to hear a perfect example of Ryan’s skill. The song is heavy, but it’s not boring or down-tempoed to the breaking point. There’s shredding, but it doesn’t drag on and on without variation. His work is honestly what’s made modern death metal listenable for me. All of Ryan’s work follows this skilled, well-written pattern, and makes him a fantastic modern guitarist — definitely check out Origin’s new album when it’s released.

-DM

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