The Top 25 Modern Metal Guitarists


  • Anso DF



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 continue our countdown with Tool’s Adam Jones…

I love thinking of Tool’s Adam Jones as an awesome guitar player. I mean, it’s true, even despite his total lack of resemblance to those we think of as rad axedudes. He’s not that kind of virtuoso. Like, I find no photo documentation of his jumping off a monitor or rocking out with his lead singer. Nor does he pucker his lips or drop his jaw whilst ripping. Gosh, he doesn’t really rip, ever. No screaming artificial harmonics or tapping; no runs or tremolo picking; I can identify only a handful of Tool moments that qualify as a solo, or even a second guitar part. Mostly, his accents go only far as wah pedal and wicked vibrato. That is what Tool requires; that is what Jones is awesome at.

When a song demands, Jones will lull the listener into a drowsy trance (to set up a Danny Carey-powered face-punching); at other times, his guitar will signal the charge (like in the big payoff in “Lateralus”); elsewhere, he’s chugging, staggering, counterpointing, dueting with vocalist Maynard James Keenan. When locked in with the Tool rhythm section, his parts stagger or extend theirs. When he’s slamming, his drop-D chord riffs inflate Tool to titan size.

But like Alex Lifeson, he cedes lead instrument duties to the drummer (and sometimes to the bassist; see: “10,000 Days” or “Schism” ) and plays foot pedals in concert (like on “Reflection”). Unlike Lifeson, his riffs have basis in feel, with familiar hammer-on/pull-offs throughout (see: “Prison Sex,” the end of “Jambi”). And that’s just the loud stuff; his quiet, noodly mini-suites like “Eon Blue Apocalypse” serve as tense breathing space between chaotic epics, like exterior shots in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. These touches of cinema are no surprise coming from a visual artist like Jones, who’s a photographer and comics artist, the auteur of Tool’s videos, and once an effects designer on Hollywood movies. That’s not when he’s working with the abovementioned multi-Grammyed, bazillion-selling band Tool. And he’s a Lakers fan. Wow, he’s not just an awesome guitar player; he’s the perfect guitar player!



#19 — Vernon Reid (Living Colour)

#20 — Misha Mansoor (Periphery)

#21 — Alex Skolnick (Testament)

#22 – Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved)

#23 — Synyster Gates (Avenged Sevenfold)

#24 — Chris Letchford (Scale the Summit)

#25 — Paul Ryan (Origin)

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