The 10 Most Overrated Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time

Editor’s Note: this list is an expansion of “The 5 Most Overrated Guitarists in Heavy Metal” from earlier this month. It’s also a continuation of an on-going series exploring the highs and lows of the genre. Send Jeremy your ideas and arguments for which bands and albums are worthy of praise and others in need of rhetorical decapitations. He can be challenged to battle on Twitter here.


Due to the commotion that was roused in the comments section by Lord Reptile’s Guitar list, he has returned with a vastly superior lineup this time. Lord Reptile enjoyed reading your petty squabbles and thought it appropriate to KO 5 more guitar players. Lord Reptile is a generous god.

Every guitarist on this list (except maybe the dude from Avenged Sevenfold) was hugely influential to Reptile when it came to learning how to play guitar. That being said, as a musician it’s very important to look at other musicians objectively and poke fun at each other’s antics from time to time.

If you can’t handle some internet writer’s witty jabs to your guitar idol then maybe you’re just better off hiding under your bed until your mom says it’s okay to use the computer again.

No disrespect is intended towards anyone here unless they have stupid hair or tribal tattoos.

10. Nigel Tufnel (Spinal Tap)

Spinal Tap is an absolute rubbish band. The fact that they cannot even function on the same level of stupidity without lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel is quite pathetic, really. His solos are among the clumsiest in heavy metal, one is almost reminded of master Angus Young but without any sense of finesse or substance.

And then there’s his infamous guitar solo where he kicks a guitar on the ground and plays his main guitar with a fiddle. I know it’s a joke, but let’s be honest: he probably couldn’t play an impressive, self-indulgent guitar solo even if he had a sheet of acid in his headband.


9. Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest)

Come on, Judas Priest chose this scrub to replace the retired master KK Downing? What were they thinking? They probably could have picked any world-class guitarist, but no, they had to choose this nobody. The fact that Richie Faulkner was the guitarist who composed Christopher Lee’s cringe-inducing Christmas metal album should have been a huge red flag.

Priest simply just does not have the same blazing, dual-guitar approach that helped make them the greatest heavy metal band of the ’70s. On the one hand you had Glenn Tipton’s superior finesse and melodic soloing, and then BAM, KK Downing kicks you in the face shredding on the other channel playing the most passionate rock ‘n’ roll guitar solo to finish off the exchange. Glenn and KK played off each other brilliantly, and that’s sadly missing from the newest Priest album. Hopefully Lord Halford will release a new solo album because he’s still shattering skulls with his screams of vengeance.

8. Michael Angelo Batio (Nitro)

How many ’80s glam guitar tropes and clichés must one embrace before they can reach the depths of humiliation that is the band Nitro? That hair looks like a fire hazard. They’re probably compensating for their lack of any memorable riffs.

Some day when robots can play guitar as quickly and accurately as humans, they will most likely sound very similar to Michael Angelo Batio. “MAB,” as he is often referred to, also relies heavily on the double guitar, a stunt that Steve Vai sometimes parodies, often using a giant heart-shaped guitar with three necks.


Though his instructional videos may prove helpful when developing speed, I wouldn’t call MAB a role model. If you want a shred instructor who plays with soul and employs tasteful gimmicks, try Paul Gilbert instead.

7. Kerry King (Slayer)

There are three things that Kerry King is great at when it comes to being a guitarist:

1. Having stupid-looking tribal tattoos

2. Drinking Jagermeister and,

3. Playing Slayer riffs.

Kerry King is almost as abusive to the tremolo system of his guitars as Kirk Hammett is to his wah pedals. Both have an extremely limited skillset, but at least Kerry King is an efficient Slayer rhythm guitarist, earning him a higher spot on this list. With Gary Holt of Exodus coming into the fold, Kerry’s lackluster approach to guitar is even more laughable than ever before.

But in his defense, his snake farm is probably totally awesome.

6. Herman Li (Dragonforce)

This joker thinks the monkey grip on his signature guitar looks way original, but if you listen to Steve Vai you know that he’s about 20 years too late from having a single original idea when it comes to anything relating to playing guitar. Herman Li gets a moderate positioning on this list because although he is in fact very fast, he is still a very annoying showboat with totally overblown abilities. There is no way Dragonforce would be a band without pro tools. They are the T-Pain effect of metal. Also, they’re probably one of the most repetitive power metal bands to ever exist.


5. Synyster Gates (Avenged Sevenfold)

More like “Sphincter Gates,” amirite?

The only thing worse than this douchebag’s stupid-looking pinstripe guitar and fedoras are his fans, who mostly consist of mall-dwelling teenagers mystified by simple, sweep-picking patterns and derivative metalcore riffs.

They worship his stupid hair and guitar solos like he’s the second coming of Randy Rhoads. When the Avenged Sevenfold album City of Evil came out in 2005 it was a very rough time to be alive, it sucked like nothing else that came before it. It was even worse than Load by Metallica. Indeed, The Duke Devlin of mallcore is very easy to hate if you aren’t a dumbass.

4. Ralph Macchio

Ralph Macchio sure looks like he’s executing some tasty Paganini-inspired shred licks here, doesn’t he? OH WAIT, what is this? Ralphie ain’t even using a pick. In fact, if you look even closer, he’s not even playing at all.

Ralph Macchio is yet another phony actor stealing the limelight from Master Steve Vai, who, despite playing every single note of this shredding guitar exchange, was only reduced to the status of a generic ’80s guitar villain. Luckily for Vai, the extremely intimidating riff at the beginning of the exchange was saved for the monstrous “Bad Horsie” single from his 1996 solo album Alien Love Secrets.

Even though weakass fake guitarists seem to get all the credit all the time, if you play real guitar you obviously know better.


3. Keanu Reeves (Wyld Stallyns)

What if I told you that every note of those badass guitar solos throughout the Bill and Ted films was not actually played by Keanu Reeves or Bill S. Preston? They were played by Steve Vai?

Anyway, Keanu is extremely overrated as a guitarist and his apparent absence from any recording or writing credits in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure as well as the Wyld Stallyns’ laughable victory against Primus in the San Dimas Battle of the Bands should be plenty indication that he is a most bogus guitarist. Keanu may be the one to bring balance to the Matrix, but he is certainly not worthy of recognition as a guitarist outside of this highly professional review.

2. Jack Black (Tenacious D)

If you win a Grammy for a song that you did not even write, there’s a very high chance you’re a big time jabroni. “Hey look I’m Jack Black and I don’t need to play the guitar I’m holding. I’m trash.” Jack Black is the biggest disgrace to metal since Kurt Cobain. His metal parody Brutal Legend is also one of the most pathetic video games ever created — even more ass than the infamous Shaq-Fu.

Like his hilarious demise in Mars Attacks, we can only hope that Jack Black is killed off by martian deathrays before he drops another album.

1. Kirk Hammett (Metallica, former Exodus)

You knew this was coming. Kirk Wahmett, the master of awful crybaby wankery, is the single most overrated and annoying guitarist of all time. Where Dave Mustaine would probably win the category of most insufferable crybaby on a list that has yet to be made, this Metallica member who does not write any songs is often considered to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time for no discernible reason. Why is it that Joe Satriani the guitar genius does not invite Kirk Hammett out to record with him? It’s because he sucks. Case closed.


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