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From screamo revival to suave grooves: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Willow Smith performs onstage during her lifE tour at Center Stage on October 19, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia
(Image credit: Paras Griffin/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.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Heavy Wing

What is it? One of the standouts from Unlimited Love, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ comeback album with John Frusciante, which was released today. Leaning heavily into the guitarist’s prog influences, it’s a brooding rocker with a winding verse chord progression and a tidal wave of a chorus, with lashings of distortion and the returning champ taking lead vocals.

Standout guitar moment: Props to Frusciante for wheeling out the ring modulator for the track’s breakdown, but the highlight has to be the incendiary solo at the four-minute mark, where the guitarist manages to tame the untamable when it comes to that explosive, screaming feedback.

For fans of: John Frusciante, Genesis, King Crimson

– Michael Astley-Brown

Adrian Quesada – Mentiras Con Cariño (feat. iLe)

What is it? The opening cut and lead single from Black Pumas guitarist Adrian Quesada’s new solo album, Boleros Psicodélicos. With beautiful vocals from Calle 13 vocalist iLe, Mentiras Con Cariño is swooning, mysterious and just plain cool, with an absolutely delectable groove. 

Standout guitar moment: Quesada’s only contributes fretwork when it’s necessary, but whenever he does, it’s perfect for the moment. Those mood-setting up-strokes in the verses are disciplined enough to cut steel.

For fans of: Black Pumas, Amy Winehouse, Khruangbin

Jackson Maxwell

The Amazons – Bloodstream 

What is it? The scorching, speaker-smashing new single from British rockers The Amazons, who are gearing up to release their third studio album, How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me? The band have promised an “anthem-packed” installment to their discography, and have already made good on their word with Bloodstream, a four-minute rock romp oozing with delicious guitar tones and arena-filling hooks.

Standout guitar moment: There’s an extended solo/vocal line that crops between the 2:20 and 3:05 mark, which sees the six-string reprise the recurring open-string melody for an augmented ascending lead line that takes the track into its anthemic finale. Very tasty.

For fans of: Blossoms, Royal Blood, The Mysterines

– Matt Owen

Lamb of God – Wake Up Dead (feat. Dave Mustaine)

What is it? A new version of Megadeth’s 1986 cut, Wake Up Dead, with Lamb of God at the helm. It’s faithful to the original – with three jaw-dropping solos and a clutch of slamming guitar riffs – adding a crystal-clear sheen associated with modern production styles.

Standout guitar moment: It’s difficult to choose a winner from the three solos here, but the final one – commencing from the 2:46 mark – has to take the cake, cramming in two-handed tapping, more melodic passages and some rapid-fire ascending runs.

For fans of: Slayer, Testament, Trivium

Sam Roche

Eric Johnson – Yesterday Meets Today

What is it? The warm, easy-strutting title track from one of the two albums that the Strat master will release simultaneously this summer.  

Standout guitar moment: Man, Johnson just makes everything sound so easy. Listen to the quick-fire solo starting halfway through the track – with his always-immaculate tone, Johnson makes hair-raising feats of fretboard athleticism sound as unhurried and simple as a walk along the beach. 

For fans of: Andy Timmons, Joe Satriani, Toto

Jackson Maxwell

Justus West – Expectations 

What is it? A new track from hip-hop producer extraordinaire, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Justus West, who strips things back to the bare bones and lets his acoustic guitar and composition skills shine. There’s a fair amount of cinematic production in there, but at its core Expectations is a souped-up acoustic-heavy cut, filled with left-field chord changes and expansive vocals.

Standout guitar moment: There are some neat unexpected changes in Expectations that go against more formulaic progressions, with West’s pinpoint fingerpicking executing his sonic vision in style.

For fans of: Horace Bray, Melanie Faye, Isaiah Sharkey 

– Matt Owen

Memphis May Fire – Only Human (feat. AJ Channer)

What is it? A new single from the Texas metalcore quartet’s upcoming seventh album, Remade in Misery. Featuring guest vocals from Fire From the Gods frontman AJ Channer, Only Human is as explosive as you’d expect from Memphis May Fire, with a crafted blend of destructive breakdowns and melodic singalong passages.

Standout guitar moment: There are no solos here; it’s all about the energy, and the riff that accompanies the breakdown at the 2:22 mark serves as a satisfying and conclusive climax to this metalcore rager.

For fans of: We Came As Romans, Of Mice & Men, Ice Nine Kills

Sam Roche

Willow – Purge ft. Siiickbrain

What is it? After her pop-punk guitar reawakening last year, Willow Smith has upped the heaviness factor with Purge. Fueled by huge powerchord choruses and palm-muted verse chugs, the new single channels noughties screamo at its peak.

Standout guitar moment: That opening riff instantly takes us back to an era when Linkin Park and Papa Roach ruled the airwaves. It’s a real nostalgia trip.

For fans of: Breaking Benjamin, Disturbed, Papa Roach

– Michael Astley-Brown

Kevin Morby – Rock Bottom

What is it? The second single from singer/songwriter Kevin Morby’s forthcoming album, This Is A Photograph. Catchy and light-hearted, this song works perfectly as both a loose bar-band jam and an uplifting group singalong.

Standout guitar moment: Rock Bottom has one of the best light fuzz tones we’ve heard on record in a long time, but Morby’s solo – which calls back to Mike Bloomfield’s freewheeling and timeless mid-’60s lead guitar work with Bob Dylan in its rolling arpeggios and woozy blues-rock touch – is the perfect exclamation point to this buzzy rocker.  

For fans of: Bob Dylan, The Faces, The War on Drugs

Jackson Maxwell

Jake Milliner feat. Tane – Did It Yesterday 

What is it? The slinky new track from producer Jake Milliner, who has teamed up with beat connoisseur and guitarist Tane – aka Dotan Bergman – for what is essentially a spontaneous three-minute neo-soul improvisation. It’s tasty turnarounds, jazzy motifs and effortless licks aplenty with Did It Yesterday, which is sure to satisfy your desire for an all-out guitar jam.

Standout guitar moment: It’s hard to pick a standout element from what is essentially an extended four-minute guitar improv, but the outro solo from the 2:30 mark – which follows a sublime section of layered six-strings – is a strong contender, thanks to a wave of intensely chromatic and sophisticated jazz lines.

For fans of: Tom Misch, Charlie Allen, Conor Albert

– Matt Owen

Opeth – Width of a Circle

What is it? A bonus track from the Stockholm prog-metal stalwarts’ latest album, In Cauda Venenum. It’s notably more accessible than much of the band’s catalog, driven by single-note palm-muted chugs in a 4/4 time signature. But it is Opeth after all, so there’s plenty of killer guitar work to appreciate.

Standout guitar moment: Fredrik Åkesson throws the six-string kitchen sink at the solo from the 2:39 mark, packing dizzying sweeps and rapid ascending and descending runs into 40 seconds of shred.

For fans of: Devin Townsend, Gojira, Paradise Lost

Sam Roche

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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, 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.