Anthrax’s Scott Ian Names Best Rhythm Guitarist and It’s Not James Hetfield, Shares Honest Opinion on Kirk Hammett

While chatting recently with Revolver, Anthrax’s sole original member Scott Ian recently discussed the topic of the best rhythm guitarists. Being a famous rhythm player himself, we’d say that he’s more than qualified to weigh in on the matter. Apart from the obvious choices, there was one that, according to his opinion, is “from another planet.” Scott said:

“For me, my favorites are the dudes I learned from. [AC/DC’s] Malcolm Young, [The Ramones’] Johnny Ramone and [Scorpions’] Rudy Schenker. That’s where I really learned how to play songs and how to keep it locked down. Those were the dudes for me.”

Hells Bells - Malcolm Young Isolated - Live at Donington

“For me, in the world of metal, I think the most underrated rhythm player is Kirk Hammett. Because he’s in a band with James [Hetfield,] who, when it comes to metal, is the best. There’s no better right hand [than Hetfield’s].”

However, Scott seems to have quickly changed his mind and then revealed who he thinks is actually the best one out there. He adds:

“Frederick [Thordendal] from Meshuggah [might actually] have the best right hand. I’m convinced he was a Terminator sent back [in time]. But instead of killing Sarah Connor, he was here to make all other rhythm guitarists feel bad about their right hands. So technically, he’s the best, but James is James, he’s the fucking god.

Fredrik Thordendal 2022 - Agrimotor

“And Kirk’s in a band with James and he’s the lead guitar player, so nobody ever talks about Kirk as a rhythm guitar player. But he’s gotta go fucking note for note with James. And he can’t cheat. There’s no fucking cheating, he’s down-picking all those fucking parts. Nobody talks about that.

“So Kirk, to me, is the most underrated. I’ve established that James is the best, Frederick is from another planet — so he doesn’t count, he’s an alien. But I’ve gotta give it up for [Slayer’s] Kerry King.

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“Because I’ve watched him close up so many times, standing with him for an hour doing shots before they go on, and he’s warming up the whole time. It’s just jaw-dropping sometimes, the ability and the stamina … I remember talking to [Exodus guitarist] Gary Holt when he joined Slayer and he’s like, ‘My fucking forearms are dying.'”

Photos: WanderingTrad (Anthrax Tuska 2019 (1) (Cropped)), DoD News (141111-D-DB155-021 (15771398435)), Ralph Arvesen (Kirk Hammett 2017)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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