The ravaged rock wasteland between Endless Boogie and Mötorhead, and a comeback for one of the most influential riffsmiths of his generation: This week's essential guitar tracks

Los Angeles, CA, Thursday, March 11, 2021 - Eric Burton, right, and Adrian Quesada of The Black Pumas perform for a pre-taped segment for the 63rd Grammys at the LA Convention Center.
(Image credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Hello, and welcome to a new Spotify playlist-embiggened 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!

Robin Trower ft Sari Schorr – Burn

Following 2022’s No More Worlds to Conquer, Procol Harum veteran Robin Trower is back with Burn – a smooth slow blues number for which he’s joined by Sari Schorr. Lashings of tremolo and generous portions of pentatonic turnarounds are the order of business here, and Trower’s phrasing is on fine form indeed. One of those tracks you just have to jam along to. (MO)

Spiritbox – Jaded

One of the decade’s biggest breakout metal acts so far are back with a new EP, and with it another hook-laden slab of epic guitar production and wrecking ball riffs, courtesy of tech whiz Mike Stringer – and what a breakdown Jaded has. Oh, and where can we get one of those chrome Jackson seven-strings? Fingers crossed for a signature model… (MAB)

C.O.F.F.I.N – Factory Man

C.O.F.F.I.N occupy the ravaged rock wasteland between Endless Boogie and Mötorhead, smashing together guttural vocals, spiky tones and a whole-hearted embrace of the push and pull of a careening rock band. We love the woozy slowdown on Factory Man and the ensuing explosive return, laden with speedy blues leads. (MP)

Spirit Adrift – Hanged Man’s Revenge

“Spirit Adrift's gimmick is simple: there is no gimmick.” That’s how Nate Garrett, the Arizona metallers’ mastermind, describes his four-piece’s approach – but we’d argue their USP is a punishing combination of stoner rock and thrash, not to mention the proliferation of tapping tricks and harmonized solos that light the fuse on Hanged Man’s Revenge’s dynamite riffs. (MAB)

Black Pumas – More Than a Love Song

Vocalist Eric Burton inevitably pulls focus on this superbly crafted and supremely soulful cut from new album Chronicles of a Diamond, but Adrian Quesada’s guitar work is equal parts subtle and sublime – weaving acoustic lines, fuzz drama and funky punctuation into a breezy whole. (MP)

The Callus Daoboys – Waco Jesus

The hype surrounding these genre-splicing heavyweights goes far beyond their excellent band name – the nimble hammer-ons and pull-offs that power new single Waco Jesus showcase the Atlantans’ innate ability to balance the heavy with the infectious… not to mention bruising electric guitars and aching violins. (MAB)

George Lynch – Borracho Boogie Delux

Strap yourselves in: it’s Lynch o’ clock. The Dokken shred icon has a new album on the way, and if new single Borracho Boogie Delux (which isn’t on Spotify, oddly) is anything to go by, you’re going to need to take a few water breaks along the way. It’s quintessential Lynch, littered with expansive licks and supercharged scale runs, all of which float over a snappy, blues-y progression. (MO)

Helmet – Holiday

Whatever brand of contemporary heaviness you’re into, odds are their riffs were shaped by Page Hamilton’s groundbreaking blend of hardcore, indie and metal. Now Hamilton has donned his Helmet once more for the project’s first album in seven years. Led by an arsenal of steamroller riffs, Holiday feels like anything but for the stalwart guitarist, especially after the frenzy of alternate picking that juices his wiry solo. (MAB)

Polaris – Overflow

Polaris guitarist Ryan Siew passed away in June, just months before the band’s third album Fatalism was due to land. This latest taster from the Australian metalcore crew shows us what we’re missing, all anthemic scales, soaring harmony lines and stomping breakdowns. Siew will be missed. (MP)

Of Mice & Men – Castaway

We love a riff that incorporates a good natural harmonic – it makes us feel nostalgic for the simpler times of the early noughties, when metal was nu and tones were Boogie – and this latest cut from forthcoming OM&M record Tether certainly ticks that box. There’s a driving pop-punk energy to this slickly produced pit-pleaser that recalls Linkin Park’s more uptempo material. (MAB)

Also on this week’s playlist…

  • Soft Play – Punk’s Dead
  • Rival Sons – Sweet Life
  • Night Verses – Karma Wheel
  • Black Stone Cherry – Smile, World
  • Heart of a Coward – Surrender to Failure
  • Atreyu – Immortal
  • Within Temptation – Bleed Out
  • Empty Trail – …but One Path
  • Liv Slingerland – In the Stars
  • Slow Pulp – Broadview
  • ONI – Aura ft. Howard Jones
  • In This Moment – GODMODE
  • The Beaches – What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Paranoid

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Michael Astley-Brown

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 from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.

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