The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century

The greatest guitar songs of the 21st century – 2017

A Single Tear – Converge

The hardcore legends have lost none of their fury nine albums in, though the atmospheric side of Kurt Ballou’s playing has become equally as breathtaking.

Progenies Of The Apocalypse – Dimmu Borgir

It was the song that propelled black metal into the mainstream – Silenoz and Galder’s infernal guitars warring with a philharmonic orchestra in pursuit of unfathomable heaviness.

Break A Guitar – Ty Segall

The undeniable Godfather of modern garage rock, Ty Segall’s playing continues to impress with every album, as heard on this barnstormer of a track. Les Paul solos and huge choruses? Count us in.

Tossing Tears – Twin Peaks

While Chicago’s Twin Peaks have spent the decade honing their craft, their laidback Americana licks have never been more captivating than on this cut.

Crumbling Castle – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

In 2017, Australian psych rock septet King Gizzard pulled off a daring feat of releasing five full-length albums in one calendar year, with tracks ranging from free jazz to stoner metal. 

Though the critically-acclaimed run was littered with highlights, Polygondwanaland opener Crumbling Castle might be the pick of the bunch. Across nearly 11 minutes, the band’s three guitarists trade intricate riff s on top of complex polyrhythms that continue to build towards a dramatic half-time sludge coda.

When guitar-playing frontman Stu Mackenzie spoke to TG recently, he described the prog-rock giant of a track as “the hardest song we’d ever made.” 

Stu is known for his rare, unconventional guitars, but his main tone heard here can be achieved with a single-coil Strat and his preferred Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp – just stick to the bridge pickup and drive the clean channel. 

For the outro, Stu has been known to use a Devi Ever Torn’s Peaker for all-out fuzz assault, which he combines with an Omicron Series Vibrato.

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Total Guitar editors

Total Guitar is one of Europe's biggest guitar magazines. With lessons to suit players of all levels, TG's world-class tuition is friendly, accessible and jargon-free, whether you want to brush up on your technique or improve your music theory knowledge. We also talk to the biggest names in the world of guitar – from interviews with all-time greats like Brian May and Eddie Van Halen to our behind the scenes Rig Tour features, we get you up close with the guitarists that matter to you.