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From divisive prog-pop to a slice of classic blues: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Buddy Guy performs at the Ryman Auditorium on March 26, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee
(Image credit: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

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.

Living Colour – Cult of Personality (Rock in Rio 2022 Remix) (featuring Steve Vai)

What is it? Sure, you’ve heard Living Colour’s iconic late-80s-era breakthrough hit before, but not like this. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the band’s first appearance in Brazil, the group re-recorded this hard-riffing classic with the special guest they jammed with during their recent set at the 2022 Rock in Rio festival: a certain Steve Vai.

Standout guitar moment: Right at the three-minute mark, when Living Colour axeman Vernon Reid and Vai embark on a guitar duel for the ages. Reid brings the light-speed funk, Vai his cosmic, just-on-the-edge-of-madness fretboard pyrotechnics. It’s a phenomenal musical conversation that puts a thrilling new spin on a beloved classic.

For fans of: Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Rage Against the Machine

Jackson Maxwell

Buddy Guy – I Let My Guitar Do the Talking 

What is it? Buddy Guy’s upcoming album The Blues Don’t Lie is just over a week away, and to heighten the anticipation the blues guitar veteran has cranked up his wah pedal for the album’s fiery new single, I Let My Guitar Do The Talking. It’s Guy dialed to 11, boasting a detonation of explosive, uncontainable wah licks, which sporadically crop up and weave their way through the punchy rhythm progressions.

Standout guitar moment: At the 1:25 mark, Guy remains true to his word and lets his guitar do the talking: for more than 30 seconds, the guitarist goes to town on his axe, lighting sonic fires with a ferocious wah-fueled throwdown.

For fans of: Joe Bonamassa, Eric Gales, the wah pedal

– Matt Owen

Smashing Pumpkins – Beguiled

What is it? It feels like Billy Corgan has been teasing the sequel to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness for, well, infinity, but its first single is finally upon us. Beguiled will be reassuring for fans put off by 2020’s synth-heavy Cyr, dominated as it is by relentless chugging riffs. We’re hoping subsequent singles have a little more bombast, but this is a decent start.

Standout guitar moment: The return of James Iha’s foot to the Whammy pedal – those Zero-esque wails add a welcome edge to proceedings. Nice to see his secret Yamaha prototype make an appearance in the video, too. Whatever happened to that guitar?

For fans of: Alice in Chains, Bush, Silverchair

– Michael Astley-Brown

TERMINA – Take Flight

What is it? A crushing new single from TERMINA, the metal duo comprising YouTube star Nik Nocturnal and Monuments leader Andy Cizek. Underneath Cizek’s blood-curdling vocals sits a clutch of vicious seven-string guitar riffs courtesy of Nik Nocturnal, which incorporate almost everything in the modern metal playbook: drop-tuned chugs, uber-melodic chorus leads and even the odd Gojira-style pick scrape.

Standout guitar moment: The two-handed tapping line in the intro and chorus sections offers an injection of melody in a track that’s otherwise unstoppably chaotic and brutal.

For fans of: Monuments, Carcosa, Periphery

Sam Roche

Kenny Wayne Shepherd – True Lies 

What is it? After Kenny Wayne Shepherd hit headlines by performing Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numbusing David Gilmour’s Black Strat, no less – the talismanic bluesman announced Trouble Is.. 25: a complete re-recording of his most successful album, Trouble Is… To preview the album – which will also feature unreleased cuts and an accompanying documentary – Shepherd has dropped a tightly reassembled version of True Lies.

All in all, it’s a faithful reinvention of the 1997 original, featuring ample amounts of swampy, Stevie-style six-string riffs and tasty turnarounds, though has been noticeably amped up – in every sense of the word. The riffs pack a heavier punch, the lead licks cut through like a razor and though the solo follows the same structure, it seems to be delivered with the additional finesse of someone who has seriously sharpened their chops since the original first arrived.

Standout guitar moment: It’s got to be the solo, which is quintessential Kenny. Served with a healthy dosage of swagger, it crams in every hammer-on, pull-off and rolling pentatonic lick of the original, but adds a layer of spice that Shepherd has been brewing ever since ‘97.

For fans of: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Gales, Jimi Hendrix

– Matt Owen

The Mars Volta – Blank Condolences

What is it? If you think politics is divided, you should see the debates going on between Mars Volta fans right now.

The respected Texas prog outfit’s new self-titled album is their first in 10 years, and finds Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala taking a distinctly poppier turn. Some people really don’t like it. But the Mars Volta have been eclectic from the off – they ain’t gonna make another De-Loused at this stage.

Bury your expectations, and it’s a laid-back alt-rock album with Latin influences. It’s not going to melt your face. But it is going to gently massage your brain, and Blank Condolences is a good example of how Rodríguez-López’s six-string approach has also softened. His solos are as wiry as ever, but they’re clipped to tight, meaningful phrases rather than long, flowing improvisations.

Standout guitar moment: The outro, where Omar’s wah-teased leads play off Cedric’s vocals. It’s a bit like a De-Loused cut where the intensity has been dialed back by 75% and the duration cut in half. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you.

For fans of: John Frusciante, Dredg, The Fall of Troy

– Michael Astley-Brown

In Flames – Foregone Pt. 1

What is it? A new track from In Flames’ just-announced 14th studio album, Foregone. In the band’s typically sprawling and expansive compositional style, Foregone Pt. 1 is flavored with the hallmarks of the early-noughties heavy metal, including frantic palm-muted electric guitar riffs over laser-precise blast beats and harmonised riffs that bolster the track’s sense of melody, therefore juxtaposing the sonic carnage that takes place in the verse sections.

Standout guitar moment: The solo from the 2:22 mark illustrates why In Flames remain standard bearers for metal guitar playing, with a series of feel-driven scale runs, occasionally harmonised for additional melodic intrigue.

For fans of: Avenged Sevenfold, Arch Enemy

Sam Roche

Thrice – Open Your Eyes and Dream

What is it? 5/4? Crunchy baritones? Clustered arpeggios? It must be another post-hardcore bruiser from Thrice. There are clearly still embers burning from the fierce Fire chapter of the band’s Alchemy Index concept record, as Open Your Eyes and Dream traverses similarly aggressive territory, albeit with a little more light and shade.

Standout guitar moment: That mid-pushed, distinctly ‘woody’ tonality that bridges the riffs on some of the heaviest Thrice cuts makes a return here, and we are all in favor of its revival.

For fans of: Thursday, Glassjaw, Radiohead

– Michael Astley-Brown

Hannah Jadagu – Say It Now

What is it? A new, standalone single from the up-and-coming, New York-based singer/songwriter. The distorted guitar-pop field is crowded for sure, but Say It Now is effortlessly evocative, and stands out on the strength of Jadagu’s unique songwriting touch.

Standout guitar moment: That solo after the first chorus. Vocal-like in quality, it plays beautifully off the song’s melody.

For fans of: Soccer Mommy, Breeders, My Bloody Valentine

Jackson Maxwell

Bonecarver – Carnage Funeral

What is it? Spanish death metal purveyors Bonecarver have announced their new album, Carnage Funeral, and launched its pulverizing title track. The first release since the band’s brutal 2021 album, Evil, Carnage Funeral is driven by speaker-rattling seven-string guitar chugs and insanely complex drum patterns, placing Bonecarver as a promising new act to carry the death metal genre forward even further.

Standout guitar moment: The riff that begins from the 3:58 mark helps establish a solid groove in a track that's otherwise a grinding cacophony of guitars, kick drums and stomach-churning vocals.

For fans of: Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Carcass

Sam Roche

Miss Grit - Like You

What is it? Not especially keen on St. Vincent’s shift into ’70s funk? Miss Grit – aka Margaret Sohn – is Annie Clark’s spiritual successor, and new single Like You is driven by a series of off-kilter guitar riffs whose disparate tones channel Sohn’s themes of multiple inner voices.

Standout guitar moment: Sohn’s production is always next-level, and those fuzzed-up main riffs slide into the mix real nice.

For fans of: St. Vincent, Soccer Mommy, Japanese Breakfast

– Michael Astley-Brown

Steve Hill – Everything You Got 

What is it? With the announcement that multi-instrumentalist Steve Hill would be dropping his 12th studio album in less than two months came Everything You Got – the LP’s scorching lead single, which serves up chicken pickin’ licks a plenty for three-plus-minutes of classic blues rock action.

Flaunting a hook akin to AC/DC’s Stiff Upper Lip – though delivered from the fretboard of Hill’s P-90-loaded Jazzmaster instead of an SG – Everything You Got leans heavily on the fingerstyle action, which is delivered with aplomb as Hill serves up robust riffs and snappy, vibrato-heavy solos.

Standout guitar moment: The infectious main motif gets the nod here, which pays homage to Angus Young with some see-sawing hammer-on and pull-off open string action.

For fans of: AC/DC, Derek Trucks

– Matt Owen

Girl Scout – Do You Remember Sally Moore?

What is it? The very first single from this young Stockholm-based quartet. Urgent, unique and catchy as hell, Do You Remember Sally Moore? explodes out of the speakers. Keep your eyes on these four… 

Standout guitar moment: We love the grimy side of the song’s lead guitar work. Those nasty bends early in the first verse and after the first chorus, in particular, are the perfect counterpoint to the sunny arpeggios in the first chorus, and the tune’s buzz-saw, laser-like bass line.

For fans of: Ramones, Alvvays, Best Coast 

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.