The Top 25 Modern Metal Guitarists


  • Axl Rosenberg

#1: KIRK HAMMETT (METALLICA)#1: KIRK HAMMETT (METALLICA)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 conclude our countdown with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett…

By now you have hopefully figured out that, no, we did not really select Metallica’s Kirk Hammett as the #1 Modern Metal Guitarist. His name was raised once, but then we all laughed for thirty or forty minutes, returned to the matter at hand, and picked an actual #1. To find out that guitar player’s identity, go here.

And so we arrive at the end. Why did Mr. Hammett make the top of this list when a cadre of fantastic musicians — including Paul Masvidal, Devin Townsend, Paul Waggoner, Matt Pike, Ryan Knight, and Marc Okubo, to name but a sampling — didn’t make the cut at all?

Why, it’s simple. Not only does Hammett represent the pinnacle of what a metal guitarist can achieve, but he has represented that pinnacle for nearly three decades, pretty much without interruption.

Seriously, think about it —

Who else has stayed at the top this long?

Who else influences as many players during the 80’s as he did during the 90’s and as he is now doing during the aughties?

Who else has shown such a range of playing styles over the years, from the differing aesthetics of Ride the Lightning to the Black Album to the Loads to St. Anger to Death Magnetic?

Who else could make a feasible claim to be the single greatest master of the wah-wah pedal since Jimi Hendrix?

Who else is the lead guitar player for the one metal band all other metal bands aspire to be?

No one. That’s who.

Kirk Hammett is a genius. A legend. An icon. And I suspect we’ll still be talking about his work in 2021, 2031, 2041, and beyond.



#2 — Tosin Abasi (Animals as Leaders)

#3 — Brent Hinds (Mastodon)

#4 — Fredrik Thordendal (Meshuggah)

#5 — Karl Sanders (Nile)

#6 — Scott Hull (Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed)

#7 — Jeff Loomis

#8 — A.J. Minette (The Human Abstract)

#9 — John Petrucci (Dream Theater)

#10 — Terrance Hobbs (Suffocation)

#11 – Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth)

#12 — Michael Keene (The Faceless)

#13 — Ben Weinman (The Dillinger Escape Plan)

#14 – Emil Werstler (Dååth, Levi/Werstler)

#15 — Colin Marston (Krallice, Behold… The Arctopus)

#16 — Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)

#17 — Buckethead

#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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