From revived ’80s hard-rock collabs to a very different kind of Meshuggah: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Joe Satriani performs at the Fox Theater on October 2, 2022 in Oakland, California
(Image credit: Steve Jennings/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 & Brian Tarquin – Speed of Sound

What is it? Back in January, guitarist Brian Tarquin announced an all-star guitar album in support of military veterans, and Joe Satriani’s guest feature landed this week. Playing over a grinding hard-rock riff, Satch’s leads are a reminder of his ability to transport any song – and indeed listener – with a mere twist of his pitch axis, traversing pentatonic and far-flung modal lands while the juggernaut riffs roll along underneath.

Standout guitar moment: For all the lead pyrotechnics on show, it’s the bluesy entrance of Satriani’s solo that makes the biggest impact, with some neat jazz inflections before the pentatonic flurries begin.

For fans of: Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Eric Johnson

– Michael Astley-Brown

Yes – Cut From The Stars

What is it? The first single from Yes’s new album Mirror To The Sky. ‘Wait!’ We hear you say. ‘Didn’t they just put a record out last year?’ Well, technically, it was at the close of 2021, but yes, it is a pretty quick follow-up. However, they say they had such a productive time making the The Quest that they just keep going.

Standout guitar moment: There’s a lot of classic prog keyboard and guitar interplay across Cut From The Stars, but there’s lovely stuff from about 4.30 where Steve Howe and Geoff Downes exchange melodic pot shots.

For fans of: Capes. Expansive concepts. Keyboard pitch bends.

– Matt Parker

Tinariwen – Tenere Den

What is it? The beautiful lead single from Amatssou, the Mali-based collective’s ninth album. Thanks to up-and-coming stars like Mdou Moctar, assouf – a loose umbrella term for the specific variety of West/North African, guitar-based music also known as “desert blues” – has grown in popularity in the West in recent years, but it was Tinariwen who really paved the road for that increased, overdue recognition. Tenere Den reflects that elder statesman status – stately, elegant, but quietly brilliant all the same.

Standout guitar moment: Bandleader Ibrahim Ag Alhabib is as fiery and skilled a guitar player as any of his younger, more flashy contemporaries, but on Tenere Den, he keeps the magic in the hypnotic, fingerpicked embellishments he weaves around the song’s central progression.

For fans of: Mdou Moctar, Ali Farka Touré, Songhoy Blues

Jackson Maxwell

Avenged Sevenfold – Nobody

What is it? The first Avenged Sevenfold single since the release of 2016’s The Stage, and a timely reminder that Synyster Gates remains one of the greatest metal players on the planet. Titled Nobody, the single will certainly take some by surprise with a sonic direction that doesn’t exactly scream “metal”, but despite the unexpected nature of the track, Gates’ guitar playing remains as familiarly virtuosic as ever, delivering warp-speed sweeps and arpeggio licks that break the sound barrier.

Standout guitar moment: Though the track is littered with examples of technically elite playing, the guitar solo, perhaps unsurprisingly, takes the cake, with Gates doubling down on some breathtaking fretboard acrobatics.

For fans of: Extreme, In Flames, Trivium

– Matt Owen

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Meshuggah

What is it? The New Zealand psych-rock collective release their new double album, V, this week, and with it its final single, a surprisingly punishing eight-string onsla… j/k, this has nothing to do with the djent pioneers; instead, this is a masterclass in woozy guitar textures, and how to get maximum vibe from minimal notes.

Standout guitar moment: Ruban Nielson’s vibrato is something special on that wistful chord progression. It’s that extra sense of movement that keeps it fresh with each cycle.

For fans of: Tame Impala, Pond, Ty Segall

– Michael Astley-Brown

Overkill – Wicked Place

What is it? The second single from the veteran thrashers’ forthcoming album, Scorched. You don’t get to 20 albums, as Overkill have with Scorched, without knowing how to deliver the goods, and the foreboding, theatrical Wicked Place does so and then some – with an incredibly charismatic performance from vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth leading the way. 

Standout guitar moment: There are some, shall we say, ‘wicked’ lead breaks to chew on here, but if that moment guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer kick up the song’s tempo with a unison, generals-leading-a-charge, bone-breaking riff doesn’t get your blood pumping, we frankly don’t know what will.

For fans of: Iron Maiden, Exodus, Testament

Jackson Maxwell

Dominic Miller – All Change

What is it? Miller has played sideman to Sting, Paul Simon and Plácido Domingo and now returns with an album of his own instrumental compositions. First single All Change is an extremely classy affair that showcases Miller’s talented band without showing off. It’s a knock-you-down-with-a-feather tune, full of subtle yet economical flair.

Standout guitar moment: Miller’s expert exploitation use of the space. He has the confidence to let notes ring, yet can still weave between the piano and bass lines with thrilling dexterity.

For fans of: Sting, Ralph Towner

– Matt Parker

Hot Mulligan – Shhhh! Golf is On

What is it? By their own high-energy standards, 2022 was a fairly tame year for US emo outfit Hot Mulligan, who released one standalone single and a four-track acoustic EP. 2023, though, looks like it’s business as usual for the quartet, who have returned to their guitar-heavy ways with Shhhh! Golf is On! – the powerchord-driven, angsty lead single for their upcoming album, Why Would I Watch.

Standout guitar moment: Hot Mulligan’s return to the fretboard of their electric guitars comes as a welcome one, and though their acoustic efforts were solid in their own right, those thrashing powerchord-with-counterpoint-melody throwdowns are so sweet on the ears.

For fans of: Neck Deep, KennyHoopla, Moose Blood

– Matt Owen

Thulcandra – Hail the Abyss

What is it? Germany’s premier blackened death cohort Thulcandra know how to make a metal video: contrasting ESP E-II and Jackson Vs? Check. Flames? Loads. Filmed in front of a spooky castle? Oh, hell yes. More importantly, the band’s riffs are as tight as their cinematography, with a formidable display of palm-blistering muting throughout.

Standout guitar moment: That verse riff is a guaranteed neck-fracturer – a savage display of hyperspeed thrash that’s meticulous in its execution and all the heavier for it.

For fans of: Dark Fortress, Death, Naglfar

– Michael Astley-Brown

Savannah Conley – Don't Make Me Reach

What is it? A weary song that centers around having, as Conley puts it, “nothing else to give,” Don't Make Me Reach –  the second single from the singer/songwriter’s forthcoming debut album, Playing The Part Of Me Is You envelops you into its world, telling its story with cinematic flair and depth.

Standout guitar moment: When the song shifts gears suddenly from a spare, atmospheric acoustic slow-burner to a driving rocker, led by a hurricane of distorted guitar that would sound right at home on Siamese Dream. The quiet/loud switch-up ain’t dead yet, folks.

For fans of: Big Thief, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus

Jackson Maxwell

Sweet & Lynch – You’ll Never Be Alone

What is it? Ex-Dokken guitar slayer George Lynch and Stryper frontman Michael Sweet return with their third album, Heart And Sacrifice in May. You'll Never Be Alone is the first taster and ably contrasts Sweet’s soaring vocals with Lynch’s earthy hard rock riffs.

Standout guitar moment: Lynch’s solo on the track is, frankly, annoyingly-constrained and tasteful, so we’ll say it’s that gravelly toned central riff. Particularly, the way he holds the chord before the slide/palm mutes.

For fans of: Dokken, Stryper

– Matt Parker

Nothing But Thieves – Welcome to the DCC

What is it? The new single from Nothing But Thieves, who – after two albums of successful experimentation and exploration – seem to have returned to their guitar-reliant, riff-tinged roots for their latest effort. While retaining the expansive electro instrumentation that defined their previous two efforts, Welcome to the DCC puts the onus on a central guitar idea, from which the rest of the track builds and blossoms.

Standout guitar moment: That envelope filter-tinged riff is bound to please guitarists, pop listeners and dance fans alike, turning a humble one-string riff into another hook that wouldn’t go amiss in any player’s locker.

For fans of: Royal Blood, The Amazons, Inhaler

– Matt Owen

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.