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From funk-leaning shred to blackgaze catharsis: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Def Leppard
(Image credit: 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.

Joe Satriani – Pumpin’ 

What is it? The third single to be lifted from Satch’s upcoming 19th studio album, The Elephants of Mars, which the shred legend says will tackle the tropes of instrumental guitar music. Unlike the previously released singles, the aptly titled Pumpin’ is far more funk-leaning in its direction, and employs a, well, pumping arrangement that Satriani litters with, of course, some elite soloing.

Standout guitar moment: The post-keyboard interlude solo at the 1:37 mark. It’s got everything you’d want from a Satch solo, including some masterfully assembled phrases, whammy-tinged squeals and show-stopping bends.

For fans of: Steve Vai, Mark Lettieri, Andy Timmons

– Matt Owen

Arcade Fire – The Lightning I, II

What is it? There’s a hint of Pinball Wizard in the intro to the latest from the Canadian indie darlings, but it soon blooms into a slowburn Springsteen-tinged anthem, complete with lashings of 12-string and – yes! – Offset Telecaster, if the video is anything to go by. Like many of their singles, you can file this under ‘epic’. All in all, it bodes well for their Nigel Godrich-produced sixth album, due on May 6.

Standout guitar moment: There are an awful lot of instruments going on here – par for the course with AF – but that 12-string cuts through the mix real nice.

For fans of: Broken Social Scene, The Shins, Interpol

– Michael Astley-Brown

Machine Gun Kelly – maybe (feat. Bring Me The Horizon)

What is it? The fourth single from Machine Gun Kelly’s forthcoming second pop-punk outing, Mainstream Sellout. This time, the rapper-turned-rocker has recruited Bring Me The Horizon frontman Oli Sykes, with the pair trading vocal lines over a series of infectiously upbeat powerchords and clean arpeggios.

Standout guitar moment: The guitar work in this track is admittedly fairly simple, but that lead hook will stay in your head until at least the end of day.

For fans of: Blink-182, State Champs, Sum 41

Sam Roche

Def Leppard – Kick 

What is it? The lead single from Diamond Star Halos, Def Leppard’s first new studio album in seven years, which is set to arrive in May. It will be a long-awaited follow up to their self-titled 2015 effort, though, if Kick is anything to go by, the significant passage of time has done absolutely nothing to erode the British rock legend’s powers of summoning stadium-filling singalong hooks and blissful, no-frills-needed electric guitar tones. 

Standout guitar moment: Phil Collen’s quick-fire lead at the 2:53 mark is a notable standout. Crammed with pentatonic bends, a flurry of notes and some harmonized bends, it's the type of solo that can only be performed while in adopting a heroic power stance.

For fans of: Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Poison

– Matt Owen

Cave In – New Reality

What is it? Cult alt-rock heroes Cave In have returned with their first full studio album in over a decade, now with Converge bassist Nate Newton in the fold following the tragic death of Caleb Scofield in 2018. New Reality is a headrush of a single, all stoner riffs, frenetic tremolo picking and time signature switch-ups.

Standout guitar moment: With Kurt Ballou behind the desk, the tones were never going to be anything short of spectacular, but Stephen Brodsky and Adam McGrath’s chonk and chime never sounded better.

For fans of: Torche, Converge, Thrice

– Michael Astley-Brown

James LaBrie – Devil in Drag

What is it? The first single from Dream Theater frontman James LaBrie’s upcoming fourth solo album, Beautiful Shade of Grey. It’s packed with Theater-esque stylings, most notably in the dizzying lead work of LaBrie’s guitar-toting collaborator Marco Sfogli.

Standout guitar moment: It would be all too easy to pick out Sfolgi’s electric guitar solo in the intro, but his almost vocal-like acoustic guitar noodling from the 3:47 mark is expertly delivered, and offers a moment’s respite from an otherwise hella-busy arrangement.

For fans of: Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Devin Townsend

Sam Roche

Holy Fawn – Death is a Relief

What is it? Midway through their US tour with Deafheaven, the Arizona blackgaze outfit have dropped a dose of pure catharsis. Ryan Osterman and Evan Phelps once again prove themselves sonic conjurers of the highest order, whether delivering wistful arpeggios or grinding single-note lines.

Standout guitar moment: That tone when the distorted guitars kick in at 1:40. We’re all about it.

For fans of: Deafheaven, Slow Crush, Nothing

– Michael Astley-Brown

Royal Blood – Honeybrains 

What is it? A surprise new release from the UK hard-rock two-piece, who have wasted no time following up their 2021 album, Typhoons, with new material. According to the pair, they had no intention of sitting on their latest offering, which, of course, is excellent news for us. It’s classically Royal Blood, with a versatile bass tone that acts as both a meaty low-end riff machine and a tool for razor-like, guitar-esque sounds.

Standout guitar moment: Royal Blood seemingly have an unwavering, evergreen ability to compose knockout three-, four- and five note riffs. Honeybrains is no exception, providing a rock-ready chorus hook that effortlessly traverses bass and guitar duties with devastating effect.

For fans of: Foals, Nothing But Thieves, Highly Suspect

– Matt Owen

Heriot – Profound Morality

What is it? The title track from Heriot’s upcoming debut EP, which arrives April 29 via Church Road Records. It finds the UK metal upstarts bathing doomy high-gain guitar sounds in grating ambience, before switching gears to deliver a clutch of impossibly heavy breakdown arrangements.

Standout guitar moment: The breakdown from the 2:55 mark features one of the most monolithic guitar riffs we've heard in a long time.

For fans of: Employed to Serve, Venom Prison

Sam Roche

VUKOVI – LASSO

What is it? One of the biggest riffs you’ll hear this year – and it’s played on a Jazzmaster. LASSO showcases the sonic evolution of the raucous Scottish two-piece, with riffs rooted in metalcore, bonded to huge chorus hooks worthy of pop-punk. Expect even bigger things.

Standout guitar moment: The exact nanosecond that opening salvo drops, and the smart rhythmic interplay with the drums. Massive.

For fans of: Tigercub, Black Honey, Marmozets

– Michael Astley-Brown

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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).