15 Best Guitarists in the Phoenix Metal Scene Right Now

Jeremy Davis from Animus Complex
Jeremy Davis from Animus Complex
Clayton Haugen

The Valley of the Sun has a lot of musical talent that spans across all genres. However, when it comes to heavy metal, the desert spawns some killer musicians. So we decided to take a look at some of our favorite heavy metal shredders. There's no way to really define the best guitarists -- everyone's a critic, right? -- so we chose this list based on several factors.

Let it be known that this list was difficult to compile; it started with about 35 guitarists and was whittled down to 15. This is about honoring standout local guitarists based on talent, presence in the local scene, background as a musician, and other miscellaneous available information.

So, in no particular order, here are our favorite Valley shredders.

See also: Top 10 Metro Phoenix Metal Vocalists

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Tommy Gibbons

Since age 11, Gibbons has been recorded on more than a dozen albums and shared the stage with more than 40 national acts. Known for his hardcore shredding abilities, infectious grooves, and a style that fuses progressive and old-school rock, Gibbons has a unique mentality about playing music. He's all about breaking the rules within the realms of what's become mainstream and popular. It seems to be working out for him -- he recently won Best Rock Guitarist at L.A. Music Awards. He's toured more than 100,000 miles over the country performing as a one-man show or with a band, teaches and records musicians at the Kompound, and has been endorsed by Krank and Marshall amps.

Christian Lee

Lee played his first guitar at age 5 while living in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, and has been developing a unique sound ever since. With influences like Randy Rhoads and Alex Skolnick, Lee discovered old-school methods of distortion all on his own and taught himself guitar tunes after scraping together enough money for Guitar World magazine. The power-metal trio of Sectas has been putting Arizona metal on the map since 2000, with a unique combo of Latin American influence, and a desire to make heavy metal that keeps musicians interested while still being heavy enough for the fans.

Sid Ripster

St. Madness (and all its members) is beloved in the Valley. And you won't find a more pleasant group of people in corpse-like bloody face paint. They're kinda like a bunch of rotting outlaws. The band is known for reinvigorating the local metal scene in the '90s with its fun yet heavy and strong musical style. Sid Ripster's energetic stage presence and crunchy, adrenaline-soaked, technically proficient guitar solos and riffs are testament to his longevity in the scene.

Wiley Arnett

Sacred Reich put Arizona thrash metal on the map back in the '80s, and Arnett's authentic style of playing fast and hard, influenced by bands like Ratt and Dokken, is one of the reasons the band still has a cult metal following to this day. In 2000, he went on to form The Human Condition with St. Madness vocalist Prophet, but there's something else he's known around the Valley for: creating some of the best burgers around at his joint Rehab Burger.

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