80s Heavy Metal Music: The Art of Shredding

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Love 80s heavy metal music? Then you’ll love this blog post all about the art of shredding! We’ll explore some of the greatest 80s metal tracks and find out what makes them so special. So grab your air guitar and let’s get shredding!


The guitar is often synonymous with rock music, and within rock music, the guitar solo is king. Of all the genres of rock, few are as associated with guitar shredding as 80s heavy metal. In this article, we’ll explore the origins of shredding, how it evolved during the 80s metal scene, and some of the guitarists who defined this incredible style of playing.

So what exactly is shredding? Shredding is a style of guitar playing that is characterized by fast and complex solos. These solos often make use of difficult techniques such as sweep picking and tapping. Shredding originated in the 1970s with players like Ritchie Blackmore and Uli Jon Roth. These players brought a new level of technicality to the guitar solo, which was popularized by Eddie Van Halen in the early 1980s. This began the era of shredding, which reached its height in the mid-late 80s with players like Jason Becker, Vinnie Moore, Reb Beach, and Greg Howe.

The 80s was truly a golden age for shredding. With the advent of MTV and music videos, guitarists were able to show off their skills to a wider audience than ever before. This led to a new level of technicality and showmanship in guitar playing. Players were no longer content to simply play fast; they also wanted to look good doing it. This resulted in some truly incredible performances from some of the greatest shredders of all time.

So if you’re a fan of fast and furious guitar solos, then you owe a debt of gratitude to the shredders of the 80s metal scene. These players raised the bar for technical proficiency and showmanship, and their influence can still be felt today. So crank up those amps and get ready to headbang; it’s time to celebrate the art of shredding!

What is shredding?

Shredding is a type of extremely fast and technical guitar playing that was popularized in the 1980s by guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, and Yngwie Malmsteen. It involves playing very rapid runs and arpeggios with a lot of changes in positions, often using multiple fingers on the same hand.

Shredding can be used in various styles of music, but it is most commonly associated with heavy metal. It can be used to add an element of excitement and virtuosity to a song, or as a soloing style in its own right.

Some people consider shredding to be an art form, while others find it to be excessively technical and lacking in feeling. Regardless of your opinion, there is no denying that it takes a great deal of skill and practice to play this style correctly.

The history of shredding

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a new style of heavy metal guitar playing emerged that came to be known as shredding. Shredding is a highly technical form of guitar playing that is characterized by lightning-fast solos and complex chord progressions.

The origins of shredding can be traced back to guitarist Randy Rhoads, who was a member of the band Ozzy Osbourne. Rhoads was one of the first guitarists to use extended guitar solos and complex chord progressions in his playing. He was also one of the first guitarists to use a wah-wah pedal to create a distinctive sound.

Rhoads’ style of playing influenced other guitarists, including Edward Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen. Van Halen was particularly influential in popularizing shredding, as his innovative solos and fast playing helped to define the genre.

Shredding quickly became popular among heavy metal fans, as it demonstrated the guitarist’s mastery of their instrument. In addition, shredding provided an opportunity for guitarists to show off their technical prowess.

Throughout the 1980s, many well-known shredders emerged, including Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert, and Vinnie Moore. These guitarists helped to further popularize shredding and solidify it as a distinct genre of music.

In recent years, interest in shredding has begun to decline; however, there are still many guitarists who continue to play this style of music.

The golden era of shredding

The golden era of shredding began in the early 80s and continued through the mid 90s. It was a time when guitar virtuosity was celebrated and heavy metal music was at its peak. Many of the biggest names in metal got their start during this period, including Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and Pantera.

Guitarists were pushing the boundaries of what was possible on the instrument, and new techniques were being developed all the time. One of the most notable innovations was “shredding” – a style of playing that emphasized speed, technical proficiency, and complex chord progressions. Shredders like Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, Jason Becker, and Steve Vai redefined what it meant to be a guitar hero.

While shredding fell out of fashion in the late 90s as metal became heavier and more aggressive, its legacy continues to influence guitarists today. If you’re a fan of fast-paced, technically proficient guitar playing, then you owe a debt of gratitude to the shredders of the 80s.

The modern era of shredding

The modern era of shredding can be traced back to the early 1980s with guitarists like Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, and Yngwie Malmsteen. These players were pushing the boundaries of speed and technique, and their playing had a huge impact on the metal scene. Over the next few years, many other guitarists would emerge with their own unique styles of shredding.

Today, shredding is an integral part of metal music, and there are many different approaches to it. Some guitarists focus on speed, while others focus on melody or technical complexity. Whatever the approach, shredding is a highly technical form of playing that requires a great deal of skill and practice.

The future of shredding

With the popularity of guitar-based music on the decline in the early ‘90s, it seemed that shredding might be a thing of the past. But a new generation of guitarists has embraced the style and taken it to new heights. Players like Jason Becker, Steve Vai, and Marty Friedman have pushed the boundaries of what’s possible on the guitar, and they continue to inspire players today.

The future of shredding is in good hands with players like Zack Wylde of Black Label Society, John Petrucci of Dream Theater, and Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge leading the charge. With their technical prowess and musicality, they are carrying the torch for shredding into the new millennium.

The legacy of shredding

In the mid-’80s, a new breed of American heavy metal band began to emerge. Favoring a more technical and virtuosic approach to playing, these bands—which came to be known as “shredding” bands—soon became the new standard-bearers of the genre.

Led by guitar virtuosos such as Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, and Randy Rhoads, these bands brought a whole new level of skill and musicianship to heavy metal. With their blazing fast solos and complex song structures, they took the genre to new heights and influenced a generation of guitarists.

While many of the original shredding bands have since disbanded or gone on hiatus, their legacy continues to live on through the music of today’s generation of guitarists. In honor of these innovators, we’ve put together a list of the 10 greatest shredding songs of all time.

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