This week's essential guitar tracks: Fresh eyebrow-singing solos from Judas Priest, and a former coma patient delivers jaw-dropping Dimebag-meets-EVH shred

Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap of Judas Priest perform onstage during the Power Trip music festival at Empire Polo Club on October 07, 2023 in Indio, California.
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Power Trip)

Hello, and welcome to Essential Guitar Tracks. As you may well know, 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.

Our goal is to give you an overview of the biggest tracks, our editor’s picks and anything you may have missed. We’re pushing horizons and taking you out of your comfort zone – because, as guitarists, that’s something we should all be striving for in our playing. 

So, here are our highlights from the past seven days – now with a Spotify playlist…

Judas Priest – Panic Attack

Not too long ago, heavy metal icons Judas Priest took the opportunity mid-show to unveil Invincible Shield – their 19th studio album, which is slated for a 2024 release. Now, the record’s high-octane lead single is here, and with it comes all the juicy riffage and throwback harmonized lead interplay you could ever ask for from the Andy Sneap and Richie Faulkner double act. There’s also a minute-and-a-half intro and two solos that will singe your eyebrows off. As far as comeback singles go, this is pretty solid. (MO)

Spiritbox – Cellar Door

‘Cellar door’ has been proposed by multiple writers as the ultimate example of euphony: a combination of word or syllables that sound beautiful, even if the meaning is not. The same can be said of Spiritbox’s new single, which might have a beautiful title but is otherwise a vicious slab of subby riffs, pneumatically pounding rhythms and siren-like chimes. In other words: another drop-tuned masterwork from Mike Stringer. (MP)

Moon Tooth – Grimothy

Just over a year ago, Moon Tooth’s resident virtuoso Nick Lee was in a medically induced coma to combat a brain inflammation known as limbic encephalitis. When he left hospital, he had to relearn how to play – and seems to have come out a better guitarist than ever.

Grimothy is his first new music since that ordeal, its hard-stomping liquid riffs positioned in the center of the Venn diagram between Pantera and Van Halen – a comparison that’s borne out by Lee’s jaw-dropping (and brilliantly gonzo) shred solo. (MAB)

Madison Cunningham – Subtitles

A new standalone single from the California native, Subtitles shows Madison Cunningham channelling some late-period Beatles-y flavor. The song tells an apocalyptic story – focusing on how, in the face of extinction, humans continue to squabble, and go on about their lives as if nothing is happening.

This duality is reflected perfectly in the song’s guitars – the creeping, terse, tick-tick-tick rhythm work in the verses that gradually gives way to the gnarled, distorted, and well-articulated outbursts towards the song’s end. Take the lyrics away, and you’ll still understand the story. (JM)

Tyler Larson – Zero Three Five

Tyler Larson – the face behind the Music Is Win YouTube channel – has an album coming out, and the instrumental melodic workout that is Zero Three Five paves the way for the debut LP in rather hypnotic fashion, thanks to those weaving scale lines, tasty phrases and dizzying solos.

Now, the song is good – great, in fact – but we urge you to also check out the music video. A guitar store robbery gone wrong that ends with a guitar solo car chase? Pure cinema. (MO)

Black Pumas – Angel

Angel hits differently than some of the Black Pumas material we’ve heard lately. Vocalist Eric Burton leads the line on a fingerpicked acoustic in this slow-burning ballad. 

A poignant (but not showy) slide cameo segments the two halves of the track, before it returns to that cycling steel-string, like a thought breaking through, but not quite making it to the front of your mind. (MP)

Enterprise Earth feat. Ben Duerr – King of Ruination

The djent is strong in the Washington deathcore stalwarts’ latest, which is all ultra-low-tuned chug, pitch-shifter squeals and syncopated stop-start riffs that will flip your stomach – not to mention a solo so technical and unsettling it would make Fredrik Thordendal jealous.

Enterprise Earth have indicated that King of Ruination ushers in a new era of the band – their rebirth as “a violent and punishing force of groove-centric metal”, apparently. Sign us up. (MAB)

Guided By Voices – For the Home

For the Home – the lead single from this indie institution’s 39th(!) album, Nowhere to Go But Up – hangs Robert Pollard’s always-formidable hooks on a Marshall-friendly, almost AC/DC-like march of brawny, multi-layered riffage.

Ever the ‘60s worshippers, though, they open the song with a hammer-on-laden acoustic figure that sounds like what Haight-Ashbury hippies would noodle out after hearing non-Western music for the first time.

Through all of their many, many albums, one certainty with Guided by Voices is that you can always expect the unexpected… (JM)

Lamb of God – Evidence

Pulverizing riffs that make your bones quake? Check. Visceral lyrics that set the hairs on your neck on end? Check. Grueling guitars that deliver palm-muted mayhem? Check. Yep, this is a Lamb of God track alright. Batten down the hatches and strap yourselves in, Evidence is wild. (MO)

Nightbus – Exposed To Some Light

Hailing from Manchester, UK, Nightbus pull off the neat trick of channeling their adopted city’s cultural heritage (as the morphing ground zero for everything from post-punk to UK rave culture), into something that sounds crisp and contemporary. 

It’s got groove for days, with a Squier Bass VI and Fender Strat put to killer use by Zac Melrose and Jake Cottier, carving out percussive mutes to insouciant Marr-like slides. (MP)

Scott Stapp – What I Deserve

Were we expecting one of this year’s most face-melting hard-rock solos to crop up in a Scott Stapp single? Not a chance. But the eternal meme machine’s shredder-in-chief, Yiannis Papadopoulos, takes on Stapp’s former Creed bandmates at their own game in What I Deserve, with a series of blistering Whammy’d runs and some furious alternate-picked chromatic flourishes that herald the arrival of Stapp’s heaviest solo material yet. (MAB)

Fenne Lily – Hollywood and Fear

That Hollywood and Fear – taken from the expanded edition of her 2023 album, Big Picture – was something Fenne Lily left on the cutting room floor until now speaks to the strength of her recent output. The plaintive tune’s mood is reflected in warbling guitar textures, with Lily’s driving fingerpicking at the core. (JM)

Emily Wolfe – Silencer

Emily Wolfe’s forthcoming album is only a week away, and to generate some additional last-minute hype, the Epiphone signature artist has dropped its third single. With a fuzzy riff coursing through its core, and some tasty lead licks that carry the track to its helter skelter finale, Silencer is – without beating around the bush – another banger from Wolfe. We have a feeling that the next seven days are going to go by awfully slow. (MO)

Also on this week’s playlist…

  • Avenged Sevenfold – We Love You Moar (Feat. Pussy Riot)
  • Joanne Shaw Taylor – Black Magic
  • Bring Me The Horizon - DArkSide
  • Bdrmm – Mud
  • Being as an Ocean – Swallowed by the Earth
  • Viji – Sundress in Pink
  • Bones UK – Ride
  • Lovejoy – Normal People Thing 
  • Madi Diaz – Same Risk
  • Blackberry Smoke – Little Bit Crazy
  • The Libertines – Run Run Run
  • Bombay Bicycle Club - Tekken 2 (feat. Chaka Khan)
  • Elisabeth Elektra feat. Mogwai – Broken Promises
  • Elephant Stone – The Spark
  • Earth – Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine (Justin K Broadrick Remix)
  • Alex Jordan - Queen Kerosene

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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.