The bass guitar is at its best when it’s played like a weapon. Don’t agree? Well, listen to these songs and you’ll see what I mean. If you don’t agree after that…well, fight me.
We’ll start with one of my all-time favorites. A song that always makes me want to whip out the ol’ bass, crank up the amp, and make the windows rattle.
Symphony of Destruction, by Megadeth
What makes me love this one so much? It’s simple, crushing, and as inexorable as a landslide. And elemental as this bass line is, the song would be nothing without it.
Rooster, by Alice In Chains
I thought about putting Would? here, as it has one of my favorite bass riffs of all time, but had to go with Rooster instead. I love the way the bass drives the song and supports the melody. Such a powerful song, and it’s all down to the way the bass outlines the chords in the verses and then converges with the guitar in the chorus. We covered this song in a band I was in back in the day; man, was it a fun one to play.
BU2B, by Rush
What more needs to be said about Rush? I could’ve chosen any number of songs from a dozen albums. Instead I chose one from their final album because even pushing 70, these guys put 20-year-olds to shame in sheer energy and enjoyment. And of course, skill. To me, this is Geddy Lee at his best: A pounding, driving riff interspersed with dexterous chords.
Sober, by Tool
This song blew me away when I first heard it. (Still does.) How can one song convey so much menace and so much sadness all at once? And that strumming bass line, with those chords… I had to learn how to play it.
Are You Willing, by Flotsam and Jetsam
Speaking of bass guitar played like a weapon…this. I wanted to learn this song, too…but I wasn’t good enough. My fingers just aren’t that fast, and it’s a sad fact I’ve learned to live with.
Dawn Patrol, by Megadeth
An ominous rumble rolling across an apocalyptic landscape. When the world ends and everything else is gone, there will still be bass.
All right, folks, this is the end. There are many more songs I could have included, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.
If you have an example of bass-as-a-weapon that can contend with these (or if you want to attempt the impossible and de-weaponize my approach to the bass guitar), you have two options:
- Leave a link to your song in the comments.
- Fight me.