Throughout its 50-plus-year existence, metal has seen its fair share of remarkably talented guitar shredders. Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi, Slayer’s Kerry King, and Megadeth‘s Dave Mustaine are only a few of the talented guitarists who have cemented themselves as heavy metal’s greatest.
But when it comes to modern metal… who are the best shredders around? Considering the bands to have emerged in the metal scene over the past 20 years or so, here are the 10 best modern guitar shredders playing today.
A big reason that Trivium represents heavy metal’s new guard is thanks to the incredible skills that Matt Heafy displays as a frontman. Let alone that he is an amazing singer/screamer, his guitar playing is astounding. From riveting thrashing to majestic-sounding solos, Heafy is not only an inspiration to young guitarists, but he’s also one of the genre’s most captivating shredders.
Pat McCrory (Turnstile)
Turnstile’s pop sensibilities and moments of heavy owe a lot to the talents of guitarist Pat McCrory. Along with knowledge on just how to straight-up shred, McCrory is a master of slowing things down and crafting perfect pop harmonies. Every member of Turnstile is essential to the band’s success and McCrory’s guitar work is an incredible asset to the band.
Polyphia has made quite a name for themselves in their relatively short career thus far, with one of their big draws being the technical know-how of guitarist Tim Henson. He’s an incredible guitarist who creates rhythms and melodies both wildly catchy, but also intellectually engaging. Henson’s technically rich songwriting and performances are key components that have elevated Polyphia over the years.
If you love guitar work that sounds savage, gross and offers a sense of relentless forward aggression, Kyle Beam is one of the best around. With Undeath’s latest studio album, It’s Time… To Rise from the Grave, Beam built upon his already strong technical performance, providing a nice variety of death metal rhythms and melodies informed by hardcore vibrancy. Beam’s guitar playing inspires both aggressive and playful qualities that will stir up mosh pit antics.
For a little over two decades, Dave Davidson has proven himself to be one of the most savage-sounding guitar shredders in the game. As a whole, Revocation is a ferocious instrumental force, unleashing sonically devastating death thrash; at the core of that work is Davidson, who brings stunning technicality to all of his performances, creating music that sounds genuinely evil.
When it comes to modern thrash metal, Blake Ibanez is one of the genre’s most iconic players. Whether it’s his past work with Power Trip, or what he has done more recently as part of Fugitive, Ibanez not only pays tribute to the thrash sound of the ’80s, but he also innovates upon it, bringing more speed, menace, and creative flair to his performances.
The classic sound of heavy metal has been experiencing an interesting revival over the past few years, and among the bands bringing that sound back, there’s Sonja. At the center of the band is Melissa Moore, who is also the guitarist for the wickedly incredible Crossspitter. Through her songwriting and performances, Moore offers irresistibly catchy and thrilling riffs that have the power to stir rich atmospheres of emotion (while also catering to those looking to go off in the pit).
Reba Meyers (Code Orange)
Blending metalcore with industrial and nu-metal, Reba Meyers’ guitar playing makes for an eclectic experience. While she is known to write rhythms that provide surreal, dream-like qualities, she also displays an incredible means of writing riffs that will crush your eardrums; and regardless of her sonic ferocity, you’ll keep coming back for more.
One of the most aggressive-sounding and technically intriguing guitarists working in metal right now is Taylor Young. Both in his own work and what he’s produced at his production studio The Pit (great name, we must say), Taylor’s knowledge of how to make a heavy song truly rip is unparalleled. In his own work riffing for Twitching Tongues, Young brings technical precision, calling to mind some of the greatest moments in metal’s history to recontextualize into ultra-heaviness. No matter what project he’s working on, he brings an array of surprises that elevate a band’s work.
Jon Krieger (Blackbraid)
Performing under the pseudonym Sgah’gahsowáh, Jon Krieger’s work through Blackbraid is nothing short of captivating. As one of the most unique and brilliant artists working in black metal today, Krieger brings folk sensibilities into his guitar shredding; along with his ability to write blisteringly fast riffs, he also is a master of creating serene (yet heavy) atmospheres. As a guitarist, and musician as a whole, Krieger is one of the best working today.