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14 Perfect Bounce Riffs That’ll Take Your Mind Off Of Everything

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We’re two months into 2022, and already it’s been a tough one. There’s a dog-years feeling, as though every day in this year packs seven pre-pandemic, pre-war days’ worth of stress. And given how trying the real world feels right now, we need metal more than ever. Part of the genre’s appeal has always been escapsim, it’s ability to take the listener out of their messy lives and give them a moment of primal release, and in March of 2022, that’s definitely vital.

But there is a balm for your chapped mind and raw heart: bounce riffs. A product of groove metal that was later perfected by nu-metal and carefully adapted by death metal, these guitar parts put a spring in the step of the listener’s spirit. So as respite for these overwhelming times, we put together this list of bounce riffs to take your mind off of everything. And while we might be privileged to do that at all — we’d never tell someone in an active war sone, Wow, this sucks, you tried some fuckin’ bounce riffs? — we still offer this collection of songs as a momentary escape to those who need it.

Here are 14 songs that’ll get you out of your head and out of your chair…

CKY, “96 Quite Bitter Beings” (Camp Kill Yourself, Vol. 1, 1999)

In a lot of ways, “96 Quite Bitter Beings” is a product of perfect timing and placement. CKY emerged at the height of nu-metal, but the band existed in that grody Jackass underground that was always a little more influenced by traditional metal, punk, and stoner rock. As such, the song has a perfect crowd-rousing bounce to it, but manages to bring a good ol’ boy metal vibe where so many others tried to the polished rap-rock thing. Stop headbanging if you dare.

Corrosion of Conformity, “Deliverance” (Deliverance, 1994)

You can’t ignore that chorus ‘WHOA’ if you tried. “Deliverance” is the kind of songs whose rhythm and chorus are like a mating call for a certain type of drunk. It draws all heads toward the stage and causes all bodies to bend at the waist along to the beat. At the end of the day, that’s what any band can ask for – writing a song that whips every drunk in a two-mile radius into a pneumatic frenzy. This is how you start a dance pit right here.

Ensiferum, “Heathen Horde” (One Man Army, 2015)

You don’t normally think of epic Viking metal as having bounce riffs. But Ensiferum‘s “Heathen Horde” shows how easily a barbarian marching rhythm can become a Woodstock ‘99-worthy bounce beat. The song could certainly soundtrack a death campaign making its way over a hill, but it could also play behind two wasted heshers at Wacken jumping in a circle with their arms linked over each other’s shoulders. In Valhalla, it’s one giant pit.

White Zombie, “Electric Head, pt 1 (The Agony)” (Astro Creep: 2000, 1995)

No one wrote bounce riffs like White Zombie. The band’s combination of groove metal, thrash, stoner metal, and art-rock danceability made them masters of the ‘90s’ bounce riff revolution. Nowhere is this truer than on the opening track of 1995’s Astro Creep: 2000, which immediately traded the dirtbag gallop of 1992’s La Sexorcisto for a metronome roar of gnarly circus chug. A trackthat’ll automatically make you not give a fuck about anything other than the riff.

Cannibal Corpse, “Scourge of Iron” (Torture, 2012)

On the one hand, “Scourge of Iron” doesn’t have that steady disco beat, which is so often the backbone of a good bounce riff (see the songs above and below this one). But what Cannibal Corpse bring are their patented brand of guitar sickness. This song isn’t meant for skinny tracksuited Hollywood types to move to, it’s meant for sweaty dudes to stomp-skip in a circle to while air-drumming. In that respect, it offers extra escapism, allowing the listener to lose themselves in the momentum while also pretending to be an ax-wielding monolith.

Sevendust, “Denial” (Home, 1999)

The first single off of Sevendust’s big sophomore album nails a rare and beautiful art: the wholesome bounce riff. Sure, the chorus of the track has in many ways a very typically buoyant guitar part. But there’s something about Sevendust that imbues a certain kind of earnestness to their agro. Jumping along to the refrain of “Denial” just feels more nutritious than it does to, say, “Loco” or “Got The Life.” We can’t explain why, we just know we love it.

Gatecreeper, “Boiled Over” (Deserted, 2019)

When “Boiled Over” kicks in at a show, it’s an instant grimace party. Everyone wants to do two things at once: headbang in unison and make faces like they just smelled a particularly heinous health-food fart. Gatecreeper’s ace in the hole has always been their bounding groove metal influences, and this song utilizes them to a disgusting degree. The result is humid rooms around the world packed with sneering degenerates losing themselves to the rhythm. An occupied mind never boils.

Fear Factory, “Edgecrusher” (Obsolete, 1998)

Every song on Obsolete is a dance metal track – well, okay, except maybe “Resurrection” – but the snap of “Edgecrusher” sets it apart. A big part of a good bounce riff is the kick and how quickly it gets the listener on the balls of their feet, and damn does this one kick hard. Fear Factory still had some of their death metal tone left at this point, and their mix of nu-metal percussiveness and snarling underground distortion created an especially awesome blast of movement. The only way to survive in a twisted world where nothing is sacred.

Lamb of God, “Redneck” (Sacrament, 2006)

It was a hard choice between this one and “Now You’ve Got Something to Die Fore,” but “Redneck” won by a hair. That’s because while the former track is at its heart a vengeful moshing anthem, the latter is for the people packed in close together and having a blast, with a central riff as fun as it is harrowing. Lamb of God rarely strike that middle ground, rabid as they are, so to hear them do it with such power and ease is a beautiful thing. Until a stray fist out of the pit catches you in the nads, that is. Which, at a Lamb of God show, will almost certainly happen.

The Black Dahlia Murder, “Nightbringers” (Nightbringers, 2017)

Ungh, that arch melodeath bounce riff is a beautiful thing. It makes sense that Michigan’s The Black Dahlia Murder would perfect such an art, what with their love of delicious, queso-style satanism. Not only that, but the band have also always added a heaping dose of hardcore to even their most scythe-like riffs, relishing the low end and the pendulum swing of that genre. The sound of a legion of demons smashing their energy drinks against their heads and wiling out.

Clutch “The Soapmakers” (The Elephant Riders, 1998)

There’s a one-two of punk attitude and metal escapism with Clutch. One minute, the band are thrusting the sweaty truth about touring, society, and Sasquatch right in your third eye. The next, they’re saying, “But fuck it, let’s dance!” “The Soapmakers” seems to tell the tale of people that embody this dichotomy, tireless stoner-bacchae dedicated only to the escapism of the swirling cauldron. Put this one on, get in the pit, and everything is everyone, and each one is all.

The Haunted, “DOA” (One Kill Wonder, 2003)

This one gets pissed. People forget how intense One Kill Wonder was, with The Haunted really doubling down on Marco Aro’s whole scathing vibe. “DOA” is another example of a solid marching tune that has an awesome-enough kick to inspire extreme mid-paced movement. The result is a metal track imbued with pure contempt and misanthropy which somehow seems tailor-made for a group moshing experience. Listen to this on your commute and feel like a really fun weapon — if you can stop yourself from bouncing, of course.

Strapping Young Lad, “Love?” (Alien, 2005)

The themes of Strapping Young Lad’s most immersively bounceable tune are ironic given, how much its rhythm makes you wanna fuck. The track is all about how love exists to give us emotional control over others, when we’re really just animals looking to smash pelvises (pelvi?). It therefore convinces the listener that their feelings of animal thrustability are perfectly normal while also giving them the soundtrack they need to feed the beast. I guess what we’re saying it, have a towel ready.

At The Gates, “World of Lies” (Slaughter of the Soul, 1995)

Now this, this is a riff that gets 80,000 Europeans bouncing in a cow pasture at once. The central guitar part of this utterly delicious At The Gates track is so catchy and movement-oriented that it’s surprising how rarely people put it on. Honestly, how a band put this track out and it didn’t take over the entire world for another, what….six years? Is beyond us. But goddamn, does it make you want to stomp around the room while lightly holding up the tattered cuffs of your baggy-ass ‘90s jeans.

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