From brutal chugs to fogs of reverb: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Mick Box performs with Uriah Heep at the Tempodrom on January 21, 2020 in Berlin, Germany
(Image credit: Frank Hoensch/Redferns)

Welcome to Guitar World’s weekly roundup of the musical highlights from the, erm, world of guitar. Every seven days (or thereabouts), we endeavor to bring you a selection of songs from across the guitar universe, all with one thing in common: our favorite instrument plays a starring role.

Uriah Heep – Save Me Tonight

What is it? The first single from Uriah Heep’s newly announced album Chaos & Color, which is set to arrive early next year. Though it may be the hard rock legends’ 25th studio album, Uriah Heep shows no sign of fatigue with Save Me Tonight – a veritable rock banger defined by its explosive gain-laden guitars and pummeling powerchords. Naturally, there’s a healthy helping of keyboards in the mix, but the guitars get their chance to shine, too, with some high octane riffing and no-holds-barred soloing.

Standout guitar moment: It’s been a while since we’ve heard a riff with quite so much fizz and energy, so it’s the track’s explosive hook that gets the nod.

For fans of: Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Greta Van Fleet

– Matt Owen

Steve Vai, Johnny “Gash” Sombrotto – In the Wind

What is it? A never-before-heard track written and recorded in the ‘90s by Steve Vai and his biker friend, a little known singer by the name of Johnny “Gash” Sombrotto. Slightly removed from the virtuosity of much of the rest of Vai’s body of work, In the Wind is classic rock through and through, paying homage to biker culture primarily using powerchord-driven riffs.

Sombrotto tragically passed away many years ago after a bike accident, and Vai seeks to honor his memory with this new release. “He would have absolutely been the greatest rock lead singer you would ever want to know,” Vai says. “All the elements were in place.”

Vai and Sombrotto also recorded several more tracks together in the ‘90s, which will be released as an album in January 2023.

Standout guitar moment: Vai sheaths his razor-sharp six-string skills and lets the riffs do the majority of the talking, but allows himself a dabble in the upper registers with a staccato bend-laden solo from the 2:28 mark.

For fans of: Steppenwolf, Mountain, AC/DC

Sam Roche

Narrow Head – Moments of Clarity

What is it? The Texas grunge-gazers lean into ’90s nostalgia with both the aspect ratio of their new single and its sonic template, which nods to Hum and Smashing Pumpkins – with gargantuan distorted tones to match. New album Moments of Clarity lands in February, and with My Bloody Valentine/Nine Inch Nails collaborator Sonny DiPerri at the helm, it’s one to get excited for.

Standout guitar moment: Yeah, we’re gonna say the blockbuster main riff on this one. It’s what humbuckers and amp drive were made for.

For fans of: Hum, Smashing Pumpkins, Momma

– Michael Astley-Brown

Heir – One Way Out 

What is it? The new single from British-based DIY pop quintet Heir, who showcase their penchant for modulation-tinged guitars and irresistible grooves in what can only be described as one of their best tracks committed to record thus far. 

With plenty of snappy single-coil rhythms, biting lead lines and undoubtedly their catchiest chorus hook to date – no mean feat, given their already extensive crowd-pleasing repertoire – One Way Out sees Heir usher in a new era of their burgeoning career, one filled with infectious guitar-driven bops and, hopefully, a long overdue debut album.

Standout guitar moment: The rhythm/lead interplay of the verses helps create a serious groove, with the up-stroke chords providing the perfect platform for the galloping pentatonic lead line.

For fans of: Dayglow, The 1975, Marsicans

– Matt Owen

August Burns Red – Ancestry

What is it? The first single from the just-announced 10th studio album from Pennsylvania metalcore stalwarts, August Burns Red. Channeling the “uncertainty, fear, outrage, and triumph” that has defined the world the past two years, Ancestry is a five-minute serving of searing modern metalcore, with a clutch of crushing drop-tuned riffs from JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler and a visceral vocal performance from frontman Jake Luhrs.

The forthcoming album is also set to feature a selection of modern metalcore royalty, including ERRA’s JT Cavey, Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain and shred guitar maestro Jason Richardson.

Standout guitar moment: Amongst Ancestry’s brutal chugs sit a selection of harmonized leads, flavoring the track with a welcome sense of melody.

For fans of: Trivium, The Ghost Inside, Miss May I

Sam Roche

Manchester Orchestra – No Rule

What is it? Cinematic and emotionally wrought, last year’s The Million Masks of God was one of the best albums to blossom from the Atlanta indie-rock institution – but as it turns out, there was a “brave soul” of a track left over.

No Rule is a sweeping outtake that approaches alternative rock with an orchestral level of detail: every guitar texture is used to devastating effect as the track moves through its myriad moods and movements. Career-best stuff.

Standout guitar moment: Those wiry fuzz leads that pepper the track add a layer of unease that morphs into euphoria at the full-on freakout halfway through.

For fans of: Band of Horses, The Dear Hunter, Radiohead

– Michael Astley-Brown

Blanco Tranco – Take Care of Yourself

What is it? Australia boasts a wealth of emerging guitar bands, and Blanco Tranco – an up-and-coming four-piece with a string of singles to their name – deserve a seat at the table. Take Care of Yourself is quintessential melancholic surf rock, littered with lashings of reverb that form a hazy coat over numerous jangly lead lines and pristine clear strums – all of which contribute to a tasty tapestry of ambient guitar lines that never once lose their melodic intrigue.

Standout guitar moment: That main guitar hook – which carries subtle hints of Johnny Marr – is as delicious as they come, piercing through the thick fog of reverb to carry the track through to its finale.

For fans of: Newdad, Julia Jacklin, The Smiths, American Football

– Matt Owen

Gina Birch – Wish I Was You (featuring Thurston Moore)

What is it? The second single from I Play My Bass Loud, the first-ever solo album from the Raincoats co-founder. Wish I Was You is loud, brash and tuneful, with some extra guitar-work from Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore.

Standout guitar moment: You don’t recruit Thurston Moore for a restrained, tasteful solo, you recruit him to contribute sounds you never thought could come out of a guitar. The specific moments where Moore makes his guitar sound like a dentist’s tool may not be to everyone’s ears, but Sonic Youth fans’ll sure love them.

For fans of: Sonic Youth, The Raincoats, Pixies

Jackson Maxwell

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.