From the best prog since Rush to stank face-inducing bends: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Erica Dunn (left) and Gareth Liddiard of Tropical Fuck Storm perform at the Wide Awake Festival at Brockwell Park on May 28, 2022 in London
(Image credit: Lorne Thomson/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.

Crown Lands – Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II

What is it? If you’re still mourning the end of Rush, their fellow countrymen Crown Lands are the next best thing – and that’s no mean feat. They have the chops, the pipes and, perhaps most importantly, the ambition, heralding the arrival of their second album with an 18-minute single they hail as “the best song we have written so far” and “a testament to the power of prog." They ain’t wrong. Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II is a jaw-dropping voyage through off-kilter riffs, blockbuster guitar tones and dynamic contrasts that not only parallel the Rush playbook but even go beyond it.

Standout guitar moment: Don’t make us choose. Those first melodic leads are an obvious winner, but we’re especially fond of the thundering stop-start fills that follow, the sweet arpeggiated chords that pepper the track throughout, and, well, front to back, the whole thing’s a highlight, really.

For fans of: Rush, Genesis, Pink Floyd

– Michael Astley-Brown

Paul Gilbert – Holy Diver

What is it? On our list of “Things we expect Paul Gilbert to do next," the answer “release a fully fledged Ronnie James Dio album” definitely wasn’t included. Despite our foolish oversight, that’s exactly what the Mr. Big virtuoso is doing, and dropped the surprise news yesterday along with the effort’s lead single – a cover of Holy Diver

Apparently, emulating Dio’s vocal nuances and idiosyncrasies was such a challenge, Gilbert had to unlearn the razor-sharp precision that has defined his playing so far. That said, Holy Diver is an excellent first offering from The Dio Album, paying homage to the late vocalist’s musicality and showcasing Gilbert’s virtuosity.

Standout guitar moment: Sure, the solo is classic Gilbert, but the achievement of this track is his instrumental guitar recreation of Dio’s vocal lines, which are purposefully emulated through ultra-precise vibratos, selective bends and a host of other carefully constructed lead lines.

For fans of: Dio, Rainbow, Black Sabbath

– Matt Owen

Falling In Reverse – Watch the World Burn

What is it? The latest sonic morsel from modern metal’s most enigmatic four-piece, Falling in Reverse. Clocking in at just under 3 and a half minutes, Watch the World Burn is the ultimate musical curveball, reeling you in with a selection of hip-hop beats and some Ronnie Radke raps that would give Eminem a run for his money, before going full throttle metalcore in its second act, with a breakdown that’s so heavy we’d be surprised if another comes along this year that can match its brutality.

Standout guitar moment: While some melodic sweeps in the build up to the breakdown might mark the most impressive guitar work in the song, those huge bends when the section actually hits are certified stank face territory.

For fans of: Escape the Fate, Asking Alexandria, While She Sleeps

Sam Roche

The Tallest Man On Earth – Every Little Heart

What is it? The beguiling lead single from Henry St., the first new full-length of original material from Swedish singer/songwriter Kristian Matsson’s Tallest Man on Earth project in four years. Urgent and unsettled, and underpinned by a skittering rhythm, Every Little Heart takes Matsson into somewhat uncharted waters, to thrilling effect.

Standout guitar moment: Every Little Heart’s central riff is its engine, droning along apace, with a tense but hook-y melody revealing itself within here and there. That Matsson does it all by himself, all at once, is what’s so quietly impressive.

For fans of: Mumford & Sons, Bob Dylan, Radiohead 

Jackson Maxwell

Thrice – Cold Cash and Colder Hearts

What is it? Post-hardcore turned alt-rock mainstays Thrice know how to celebrate a milestone. 20 years after the release of landmark full-length The Artist in the Ambulance, the California collective have rerecorded the album in its entirety, bringing guests from Holy Fawn, Architects and Manchester Orchestra along for the ride. The resultant release updates the album’s anthemic take on melodic hardcore with cleaner, more defined guitar tones and Dustin Kensrue’s rich, ageing-like-a-fine-wine vocals, best highlighted on the album’s punishing opener, Cold Cash and Colder Hearts.

Standout guitar moment: AITA fans will notice some sweeping changes here, chiefly the dreamy stop section, which brings the 20-year-old track bang up-to-date with Thrice’s current post-rock-informed sonic approach, and traces a throughline from their hardcore roots to their contemporary alt-rock opuses.

For fans of: Glassjaw, Thursday, Alexisonfire

– Michael Astley-Brown

The Answer – Livin’ on the Line 

What is it? Your weekly fix of classic rock goodness, filled to the brim with chime-y riffs revolving around the key of A and a healthy helping of G-to-D major chord see-sawing, as well as a particularly catchy pentatonic-based guitar solo that makes its way round the boxes. Not only that, Livin’ on the Line is the second single from The Answer’s upcoming album, Sundowners, which will be their first in seven years when it arrives in March. 

Standout guitar moment: It’s easy for the pentatonic scale to sound stale, but Livin’ on the Line does a good job of keeping things fresh while guiding the track into its final stages through firing runs and box-based bends.

For fans of: AC/DC, Cheap Trick

– Matt Owen

Swollen Teeth – SWOLLENTEETH

What is it? The first single from Swollen Teeth, a raucous new quartet championed by none other than Slipknot turntablist Sid Wilson, who has also produced their upcoming self-titled debut EP. Needless to say, Wilson’s influence runs deep in the first cut from this mysterious masked group; disembodied and slightly disconcerting audio samples decorate a mix that’s otherwise no-holds-barred, drop-tuned guitar-powered heavy metal.

Standout guitar moment: It’s easy to focus on the credentials of the group’s producer, but the Slipknot-inspired guitar work of HOG, whose real name eludes us at the time of writing, is visceral enough to stand up alongside that of most other players in the nu metal genre.

For fans of: Slipknot, Tallah

Sam Roche

Tropical Fuck Storm – 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)

What is it? An incredibly fun, 18-minute free-for-all cover of Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic odyssey. The Aussie quartet’s interpretation of the cosmic Electric Ladyland classic is faithful to the original’s spirit, but branches out from its source material in fascinating ways at a number of points. 

Standout guitar moment: Where to begin? Over the course of 1983’s extensive run-time, singer/guitarist Gareth Liddiard gives us plenty to chew on, guitar-wise. Top prize for us though, goes to the volcanic eruption that begins at 4:35. Liddiard brilliantly channels both Hendrix and his own less conventional sensibilities with a series of rapid-fire, roller-coaster phrases that beautifully burn out in a haze of curdling feedback. 

For fans of: Jimi Hendrix, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Kikagaku Moyo

Jackson Maxwell

Safiyah Hernandez – You’re So Cool 

What is it? A new track lifted from the debut album of Safiyah Hernandez – a 15-year-old musical prodigy, who has assembled a fierce 13-track LP to open her studio record account. Quite simply, this is a track we’d expect from an artist many years her senior, and if this is just the start for the youngster, who knows just how far her music will go. For now, it’s firmly rooted in gained-up guitars, which are out in full force here for some punchy progressions and swaying strums.

Standout guitar moment: Hernandez cites Nirvana and A Tribe Called Quest as key influences, and that can be heard in the track’s gritty guitar progression, repeated throughout with varying dynamics and a whole lotta’ feel.

For fans of: girl in red, NewDad, Bathe Alone

– Matt Owen

Demonstealer – Monolith of Hate

What is it? Indian metal musician Demonstealer, real name Sahil Makhija, has tapped members of fellow metallers Ne Obliviscaris, Kataklysm, and Veile to round out the lineup on his latest single, Monolith of Hate. Sprawling in its ambition with the grandiose arrangements to deliver, the track is a compositional masterclass, with Demonstealer’s unrelenting volley of electric guitar riffs bolstered by ultra-tight drums and elevating orchestral elements.

Standout guitar moment: In a 5:38 track in which the focal point throughout is the guitar, it’s, quite frankly, tough to pick out one moment which stands above the rest.

For fans of: Ne Obliviscaris, Kataklysm

Sam Roche

The Black Tones – Blue Matrimony

What is it? Arranged by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, acoustic murder ballad Blue Matrimony is a powerful showcase of the distinctly Seattle sound of Eva Walker, whose sparse Strat lines, delivered over a humming bedrock of acoustic guitars, are as evocative as her emotionally wrought vocal. The track fuses the darker unplugged side of the grunge movement and the confessional songwriting of the likes of Nick Cave into a deeply moving portrait of a marriage gone very, very wrong.

Standout guitar moment: We dig the whammy bar dives on those Spaghetti Western-esque electric guitar lines, which further embellish the track’s innate sense of desolation.

For fans of: Mark Lanegan, Alice in Chains, Nick Cave

– Michael Astley-Brown

Girl Ray – Everybody's Saying That

What is it? The neon-lit, dancefloor-ready new single from up-and-coming London trio Girl Ray. Everybody's Saying That is an homage to the “straight-to-the-heart simplicity of the disco greats,” and fulfills its mission to the letter by channeling only the genre’s best – and most catchy – qualities.  

Standout guitar moment: Wielding a Player Plus HSS Strat, singer/guitarist Poppy Hankin gets the perfect funk rhythm tone. From the first chord she plays, Hankin is simply dead-on, powering this irresistible tune with laser-like precision and enviable style. 

For fans of: Daft Punk, Chic, Phoenix

Jackson Maxwell

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Matt Owen

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.