Steve Vai has played with a number of bands, but what’s most impressive is that the first major band he was in was with the ultra-talented Frank Zappa, who demanded perfection from his musicians. He was so impressed with Vai that he credited him with “impossible guitar parts” in liner notes. After playing with David Lee Roth, Vai joined Whitesnake and played on ‘Slip of the Tongue.’ As a student of Joe Satriani, he picked up a few tricks, especially with his playing style that often mimics human singing.

Synyster Gates is the lead guitarist of Avenged Sevenfold and rather than stay at school where he was studying classical and jazz guitar, he dropped and pursued a life of rock 'n' roll. This proved to be the best decision of his life. Gates’ guitar playing takes on the modern rhythmic aesthetics of metalcore and combines them with melodic influences from the 1980s like Iron Maiden. This lethal combination in his guitar playing has brought massive success to the group as they continue to dominate the live circuit and the airplay charts.

Steve Vai or Synyster Gates? Cast your vote for the Greatest Metal Guitarist in the poll below! Voting for this round closes on Sunday, July 21 at 11:59PM ET. Fans can vote once per hour, so keep coming back to make sure that your favorite metal musician wins!