The defining sonic signature of hard rock and heavy metal music is the sound of an electric guitar hammering home a riff through a mountain of Marshall amps stacks. And the only thing better than one guitarist hammering home a riff through a mountain of Marshalls is TWO guitarists hammering home monster riffs in tandem through even more Marshall stacks (heck, some bands even have THREE guitarists doing it, but that’s a different list!). Starting in the mid-’70s, when Thin Lizzy replaced founding guitarist Eric Bell with both Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham and the formative Judas Priest first emerged from the fertile metal foundries of Birmingham, England, hard rock bands started doubling down on guitarists and guitar riffs. Previous two-guitar bands had split duties between rhythm and lead players, but the new bands showcased two blazing ax-men at once, trading solos or playing them in harmony, called “guitarmonies” by some, a trick borrowed from Southern rockers The Allman Brothers Band.
The two-guitar band format then become the standard as hard rock gave way to heavy metal into the 1980s. Whether it was NWOBHM bannermen Iron Maiden or thrash giants Slayer , heavy metal music became increasingly dependent on the form, with many bands unable to perform their songs without dual pickers wailing away. A whole new generation of bands, from post-stoner prog rockers Mastodon to power metal mavens DragonForce, have figured out new ways to keep things interesting and heavy at the same time. Check out our list of the top 10 two-guitar teams in heavy metal, yeah we know – 10 is too short a list, and let your ears howl for mercy as the ax-men crank up the amp stacks and let the riffs rain down.