The Top 25 Modern Metal Guitarists


  • Axl Rosenberg


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 Buckethead…

“He was born in a coop, raised in a cage,
Children fear him, critics rage.
He’s half alive, he’s half-dead
Folks just call him ‘Buckethead.’”
–“The Ballad of Buckethead,” Buckethead featuring Les Claypool

Buckethead (his mommy just calls him “Brian Patrick Carroll”), the one-time Primus and Guns N’ Roses axe slinger, hasn’t released a single album in 2011, which I guess is excusable, SINCE HE RELEASED FOUR IN 2010 and ANOTHER FOUR IN 2009. In fact, his most recent release, 2010’s Untitled, was his thirtieth studio album — and that only counts solo albums, not stuff he’s recorded with bands/other artists. And even then, only solo albums released under the moniker “Buckethead,” not solo albums released as “Death Cube K” (which, in case you don’t see it, is the letters that spell “Buckethead” re-arranged).

Of course, the fact that he’s pretty much the most prolific person in the history of ever would make no difference if he wasn’t also an incredible, mind-bogglingly mind-blowing musician. Fact of the matter is, when you look at all those albums he’s released, not only are they all good, and not only do they all display top-notch musicianship and songwriting abilities, but they cover a wide range of styles, including not just metal and hard rock, but electronica, country, funk, blues, flamenco, and lots and lots of experimental shit that I don’t even know what the fucking fuck you’d call it.

For example, here’s a quick overview (and a shit ton of videos) of the genres covered in just those eight most recent solo releases:

  • Slaughterhouse on the Prairie: Metal and rock album that features a tribute to LeBron James (seriosuly).

  • A Real Diamond in the Rough: One of “soft and pretty ones.”
  • Forensic Follies: An experimental rock album that uses parts of other songs BH had already recorded/released to make new music. I just now learned that there’s actually a word for this: “xenochrony.”
  • Needle in a Slunk Stack: More xenochrony.
  • Shadows Between the Sky: More purdy stuff.
  • Spinal Clock: An album of experimental banjo music. I swear I’m not making this shit up, guys.
  • Captain EO’s Voyage: A dreamy tribute to the Michael Jackson 3D movie.
  • Untitled: Yeah I actually somehow missed this one so I don’t really know what’s on it, but I’m pretty sure it’s awesome.

My point being this — there is nothing this guy can’t do, and there’s nothing this guy can’t do amazingly well. I could just sit around and watch videos of him playing all day.

And did you know that he auditioned to be Ozzy’s new guitar player but didn’t get the job because he refused to take his mask and bucket off? There’s something really admirable about a guy who walked away from Guns N’ Roses AND Ozzy, pretty much all in the name of just being weird and doing whatever he wants. I mean, how much money do we think he left on the table? It has to millions of dollars just from the GN’R gig alone, right?

Speaking of GN’R, does anyone really doubt that this dude was the best part of Chinese Democracy? I still can’t believe he convinced Axl Rose to allow him to be so unequivocally weird on what was supposed to be a mainstream pop metal album.

And, oh yeah, “The Android Of Notre Dame,” his tribute to Dimebag, is a million times better than any other tribute to Dimebag.

One of the great regrets of my career is that I can’t seem to land an interview with the dude — I’ve been told he doesn’t give interviews anymore. Not even via his handpuppet, Herbie.

Even though Buckethead makes a lot of metal, I suspect the fact that he’s not all-metal, all-the-time will make some people angry that he’s on this list. Which is a shame — he’s one of the very few dudes here who could appear on ANY list of great modern guitar players, regardless of the genre.



#18 — Adam Jones (Tool)

#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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