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From irresistible, summer-ready grooves to apocalyptic triplet chugs: here are this week’s essential guitar tracks

(from left) Jonathan Pearce, Elizabeth Stokes, Tristan Deck and Benjamin Sinclair of The Beths perform at The Tuning Fork on June 06, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand
(Image credit: Dave Simpson/WireImage)

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.

Clutch – We Strive For Excellence

What is it? Well, it’s Clutch, the Maryland rockers who like to drive shift and cruise along in irresistible groove that works gangbusters on, say, a long summer’s weekend.

The songcraft is typically astute. Here, frontman/rhythm guitarist Neil Fallon, guitarist Tim and co observe the Mutt Lange rule, with guitars that let the snare drum largely have the mix to itself (think AC/DC, or indeed back to our recent rock anthem how-to with the stylistically adjacent Def Leppard).

Standout guitar moment: There are a few highlights worthy to note. Sult’s easy-greasy riffs always slip down a treat, and there is plenty muscle on the guitars. But We Strive For Excellence is particularly effective when Dan Maines’ bass guitar starts pumping out eighth-notes and everyone joins in. The post-solo riff at around 1.47 min in ups the ante nicely, too.

For fans of: Corrosion of Conformity, Red Fang

– Jonathan Horsley

Russian Circles – Conduit

What is it? One listen to that mid-forward triplet chug should tell you everything you need to know: this is a new single from Russian Circles, and it is absolutely savage. Eighth album Gnosis drops on August 19, and finds Mike Sullivan and his bandmates channeling two years of tension into what promises to be their most bludgeoning release yet.

Standout guitar moment: Those modal hammer-on/pull-off riffs channel Mastodon at their most primal. We like where Sullivan’s head – and, indeed, fret hand – is at.

For fans of: Pelican, Mastodon, Caspian

– Michael Astley-Brown

Deaf Havana – Nevermind

What is it? James Veck-Gilodi is one of the most honest and forthright lyricists in the biz, and has used Deaf Havana as a vehicle to tackle difficult subjects like coming of age, alcoholism and loss since 2005. And as he explains, the duo’s new single, Nevermind, looks into the “lowest point” in his life, and as a consequence results in one of his most visceral performances ever.

Standout guitar moment: Tastefully-crafted acoustic guitar lines are commonplace in DH’s back catalogue – think The Past Six Years or Saved – but the intro/verse to Nevermind might just host their very best.

For fans of: Don Broco, Young Guns

Sam Roche

Julia Jacklin – I Was Neon

What is it? The second single from Pre-Pleasure, the forthcoming third album from Julia Jacklin. One of the sharpest songwriters to emerge from Down Under since Courtney Barnett, Jacklin has always had a great sense of what to surround her affecting lyrics with musically, and the anxious, driving I Was Neon is no exception in that regard. 

Standout guitar moment: Between the Krautrock-y rhythm and eerie vocal double-tracking in the chorus alone, Radiohead fans will find plenty to like about this tune, but it’s the distorted arpeggios that enter the scene after the song’s first chorus that’ll really keep them – and listeners of all stripes, really – coming back.

For fans of: Radiohead, Lucy Dacus, Courtney Barnett

Jackson Maxwell

Ben Harper – We Need to Talk About It

What is it? The Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist’s latest single is a socially conscious track advocating for more open dialogue on the issue of racial injustice and the legacy of slavery in America. It sets the plaintive vocal of Harper (whose voice, incidentally, just gets better with age) to a low-key funk groove that treads heavy on the wah pedal. Chavonne Stewart, De’Ante Duckett and Alethea Mills deserve huge props for stellar backing vocals..

Standout guitar moment: The production from Sheldon Gomberg and Harper  helps sell this – it sounds super-deep, pulling the audience in. That wah tone is intoxicating, the lap-steel solo throaty and divine.

For fans of: Keb Mo, Taj Mahal, Marvin Gaye

Jonathan Horsley

Jimmy Eat World – Something Loud

What is it? Inspired by the hype around the emo festival to end all emo festivals – aka When We Were Young – Jim Adkins and co have dropped their first new music since 2019. Appropriately enough, it’s an anthemic rocker that nods to the pop-punk institution’s roots with XXL open chords, chiming leads and even the odd dalliance with tremolo picking.

Standout guitar moment: Although rising in popularity, P-90s remain the underdog(ear) of the pickup world. One listen to Adkins’ rich opening stabs in Something Loud will surely send the perennially underrated single coil’s stock soaring.

For fans of: Yellowcard, Saves the Day, Angels & Airwaves

– Michael Astley-Brown

Behemoth – Off to War!

What is it? The latest track and second single from the Polish extreme metal overlords’ upcoming album, Opvs Contra Natvram. As ever, it sees Adam “Nergal” Darski and co offer up desolate arrangements packed with walls of distorted electric guitar and surgically precise rhythms. 

Standout guitar moment: Nergal’s solo from the 3:17 mark kicks off with a series of long-held single notes – with a squealing pinch harmonic thrown in for good measure – before putting pedal to the metal with a rollercoaster-esque rapid ascending run and a mesmerizing passage of two-handed tapping.

For fans of: Dark Funeral, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor

Sam Roche

Pool Kids – I Hope You're Right

What is it? The second single from the Florida emo quartet’s upcoming self-titled album, I Hope You're Right is an intense, enthralling examination of hypocrisy and arrogance.

Standout guitar moment: Pick your favorite! There are those delectable, chorus-y arpeggios in the verses, the massive dual-guitar crunch in the choruses, or the fretboard-melting outburst from Andrew Anaya just before the song comes to a close. They all work beautifully in tandem to make this a powerful, cathartic piece of music. 

For fans of: The World is a Beautiful Place…, Sinai Vessel, Retirement Party

Jackson Maxwell

The Beths – Silence Is Golden

What is it? The latest single from New Zealand guitar-pop upstarts The Beths takes some unexpected turns. There’s a scuzzier, more punk aesthetic to Elizabeth Stokes’ rollercoaster alternate-picked main riff and the wall-of-guitar production, as well as some gloriously abrasive chord voicings – but the band’s knack for an irresistible hook is still very much present and correct. We look forward to hearing more of this sonic evolution when the band’s third album, Expert in a Dying Field, lands on September 16.

Standout guitar moment: We simply have to acknowledge a) Jonathan Pearce’s chaotic closing solo and b) his valiant effort at miming something that is clearly impossible to replicate. An absolute ripper, regardless.

For fans of: Jimmy Eat World, Weezer, Snail Mail

– Michael Astley-Brown

In Flames – State of Slow Decay

What is it? A four-minute helping of crushing guitar, thunderous drumming and visceral vocal work from Swedish metal stalwarts In Flames. A riff-fest from start to finish, State of Slow Decay finds guitarists Björn Gelotte and Niclas Engelin in stellar form, and with a new album on the way, we’d wager there’s more where this came from.

Standout guitar moment: Gelotte and Engelin display their unrivaled synergy from the 1:44 mark, with a harmonized guitar solo packed with winding turnarounds and swift ascending runs.

For fans of: Arch Enemy, Trivium, DevilDriver

Sam Roche

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Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar (opens in new tab), Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as the best part of 20 years performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe (opens in new tab).