#7: JEFF LOOMIS (NEVERMORE)
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 Jeff Loomis, until recently of Nevermore…
When metal fans look back at the doldrums that were the ’90s, one American band sticks out as carrying the torch of “true” metal, whatever that term means: Pantera. Nevermore deserve just as much credit. Where Pantera had mainstream jock appeal and tough-guy bravado, Nevermore had the opposite; over-the-top technicality, a flare for the theatrical and the nerdiest of nerd-face fans when all of those things were considered as far from cool as you could possibly get. Nevermore never achieved nearly the popularity of Pantera, but as the band’s guitarist and chief songwriter, Jeff Loomis was responsible for bringing technicality back to metal a good 10 years before it was cool again.
Jeff Loomis is an absolute master, one of the best of the best technical players on this planet. Like our #8 pick — The Human Abstract’s A.J. Minette — Loomis has a remarkable penchant for composition that’s truly special; he just understand notes, scales and melodic structure in a way that most musicians simply do not. He’s a phenomenal, razor-tight rhythm player too. Let’s be real though; when you go to watch Jeff Loomis play you’re watching for the shred. Dude traverses the entire fretboard with his alien-fingers like it’s greased with butter, never a flubbed note, always perfect, always artful. Loomis ain’t no shred-for-shred’s sake mile-a-minute guy; his solos have purpose, tell stories, make use of scales and notes in interesting ways that just make your jaw hit the floor. When you watch Jeff Loomis play it’s as if there’s some cosmic understanding of the guitar that only he is privy to. He’s the frickin’ Einstein of shred.
So often overshadowed because Warrel Dane doesn’t scream/growl is this indisputable fact: Loomis is a heavy player too. When Nevermore came out in 1995 no one was playing like Loomis. Death metal had just peaked and thrash was long gone, but Loomis was more technical than most of those players anyway. It’s weird to think that a band whose detractors often label them as “power metal” were one of the heaviest American bands around in the late ’90s, but it’s true.
THE LIST SO FAR