Corey Taylor Calls Metallica's "Enter Sandman" the "Stairway to Heaven" of His Generation

"It's one of those riffs that… I like to call it the Guitar Center virus"
Corey Taylor Calls Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' the 'Stairway to Heaven' of His Generation
Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor is one of the 53 artists that have contributed to Metallica's Blacklist covers compilation, and he very much recognizes the cultural impact of 1991's prolific Black Album — to the point where he's now comparing "Enter Sandman" to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."

In a new four-part interview with Knotfest.com's Ryan J. Downey, Taylor revealed that "Enter Sandman" was actually one of the first songs he ever learned to play on guitar.

"Because that was kind of our generation's 'Stairway to Heaven' or [Deep Purple's] 'Smoke on the Water'; it's one of those riffs that… I like to call it the Guitar Center virus," the musician explained, referencing the ubiquitous U.S. chain of music stores.

"Anybody who comes in is either playing 'Sandman,' [Ozzy Osbourne's] 'Crazy Train,' 'Smoke on the Water,' 'Stairway' or [Zeppelin's] 'Whole Lotta Love,'" he continued, failing to mention that the latter was recently voted as having the best guitar riff of all time in a recent poll. "You have those gateway riffs where you go, 'Oh, I figured it out.'"

Back in 2017, Noisey by VICE undertook a "battle royale" to determine the millennial "Stairway to Heaven." Spoiler alert: it wasn't "Enter Sandman."

But the famous riffs of Metallica and co. still form the bedrock of jamming in the genre, as Taylor went on to explain:

I sat down one day, as I got better at guitar, and I went back and listened to the first four Metallica albums and just started woodshedding and learning all these riffs. And it became a sort of language that you could speak to other musicians when you're jamming for the first time. If you kicked into "Blitzkrieg" or something — or if you kicked into "Ride the Lightning" and just started and they kicked in with you, you knew you were off to the races; because you don't just learn that riff — you learn the whole tune and you just go for it.

Much like jazz standards, songs like "Enter Sandman" and "Stairway to Heaven" provide some common ground for rock musicians of all experience levels. 

Watch the full interview with Taylor below, and see where his take on "Holier Than Thou" landed on Exclaim!'s ranking of all 53 covers on the Blacklist.


Taylor recently contracted COVID-19 but is "doing well" amid recovery and bandmate Clown (a.k.a. Shawn Crahan) says face masks are "business as usual." Meanwhile, the Virginia Tech college football team's game entrance to "Enter Sandman" registered seismically last week and Exclaim! explored how Canada helped bring the Black Album to the world in honour of its 30th anniversary.