If you’re a metalhead, you know it’s all about those riffs. The 1970s acted as heavy metal’s primordial ooze, inspiring the direction of music for decades to come with pure metal and proto-metal riffage.

Let’s get this out of the way… Black Sabbath. Without Tony Iommi’s monstrous riffs, heavy metal as we know it simply wouldn’t exist. We could have filled this entire ‘70s list with Black Sabbath riffs, but we exercised some restraint (sort of) and limited Iommi to one entry.

Some say the first pure heavy metal band was Judas Priest, with 1976’s Sad Wings of Destiny marking the first 100-percent undiluted metal album. Beyond the debate, Judas Priest’s sophomore effort is a landmark album with one of the strongest opening tracks in history, “Victim of Changes.” The driving lead riff from K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton is absolutely iconic and remains extremely heavy four decades later.

Though many of Led Zeppelin’s finest tracks were dropped in the ‘60s, perhaps the band’s heaviest riff came in 1975. The word “epic” barely begins to describe Jimmy Page’s lead in “Kashmir.” Robert Plant has gone on to call “Kashmir” the “definitive Led Zeppelin song” and “the pride of Led Zeppelin.” The eight-minute track is fantastic from start to finish, but it’s that timeless riff from Page’s Les Paul that sticks out in the listener’s mind immediately.

Check out our picks for the 10 Greatest Metal Riffs of the 1970s in the Loud List above!

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