The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century

The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century – 2008

Rock N Roll Train – AC/DC

From the band’s last album with rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, a song great enough to have been on Back In Black.

Nothing Ever Happened – Deerhunter

Bradford Cox and co established a spindly indie-psych sound that would inspire the next decade of guitar bands.

There Was A Time – Guns N' Roses

On the finest track on GN'R's long-awaited Chinese Democracy, beautiful solos from both Robin Finck and Buckethead culminated in an utterly epic outro.

Bleed – Meshuggah

If you think rhythm guitar is easy, try keeping up with this right-hand workout from the digit-crunching Swedish math-metallers. Ouch.

Salute Your Solution – The Raconteurs

Jack White howls like Robert Plant over offbeat powerchords that sound like a fuzzed-out AC/DC.

Ain't No Rest For The Wicked – Cage The Elephant

Memorable slide guitar riffs in indie are rare, but Nick Bockrath proves we need more of them.

Psychosocial – Slipknot

Returning four years after the varied Vol.3: (The Subliminal Verses) with a major return to form, Slipknot had ditched most of their nu-metal influence by album four – and Psychosocial was a brutal, be-masked highlight. You better psych yourself up to attack this disasterpiece, because #4 and #7’s riffing is as tight as ever. 

And, though the riff is strong, the solo is where you’ll really need to put in the practice. The toughest part is Mick Thomson’s opening salvo of alternate-picked scale runs. 

Technically, he switches between picking and legato, but it’s worth trying strict alternate picking, then combining the technique with hammer-ons and pull-off s. Jim Root takes the second half of the solo, which is equally as challenging. The old adage of ‘start slow and build up speed’ definitely applies here.

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Total Guitar editors

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