From spectral folk to metal Muse: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Eve Adams
Eve Adams (Image credit: Press)

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.

Eve Adams - Butterflies

What is it? This slow-burning soundtrack to a ’40s film noir that never existed is the spookiest guitar-and-vocals song you’ll hear all year. Eve Adams’ melancholy arpeggios are accompanied by a wealth of tremolo’d overdubs that amplify the intrigue and suspense.

Standout guitar moment: The wailing single-note lines that flicker in and out of the mix are a masterclass in atmospheric textures.

For fans of: Chelsea Wolfe, Adia Victoria, Julien Baker

– Michael Astley-Brown

Steve Vai – Zeus In Chains 

What is it? The fourth single from Vai’s upcoming instrumental album Inviolate – his 13th studio album and his first in six years. Yet another display of Vai's virtuosic abilities, Zeus In Chains seamlessly transitions between intriguing chord voicings, powerful rhythm work and the usual dose of fretboard acrobatics.

Standout guitar moment: There is some really nice chord work going on, but we couldn’t forgive ourselves if we didn’t choose one of the many solo exchanges as the standout guitar moment – the effort from the two-minute mark is not to be missed.

For fans of: Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Jeff Beck

Matt Owen

Venom Prison – Nemesis

What is it? The brutally anthemic third single from the UK outfit’s upcoming album, Erebos. Shifting back into high gear after their more subdued last single, Pain of Oizys, Nemesis is a brilliant cacophony of savage drop-tuned guitars and destructive breakdowns, and we’re excited for the album when it drops on February 4.

Standout guitar moment: Aside from the Gojira-style pick scrapes that lurk throughout, there’s a quick-fire lead line at the 1:34 mark that piqued our interest.

For fans of: Parkway Drive, Bleed From Within

Sam Roche

Michael Romeo – Divide & Conquer

What is it? Cinematic, powerful and explosive, the lead single from War of the Worlds, Pt. 2 – the forthcoming solo album from Symphony X guitarist Michael Romeo – has the grandiosity to match the sci-fi epics it’s inspired by.

Standout guitar moment: Come for the bludgeoning power metal riff, but stay for the solo – a rollercoaster ride of technical acrobatics and compositional brilliance that showcases Romeo’s versatility as a guitarist, and is an absolute blast to turn up loud.

For fans of: Symphony X, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Angelo Batio

Jackson Maxwell

Muse – Won’t Stand Down 

What is it? Muse’s first single since 2018, and arguably their heaviest effort yet. Employing a clutch of gargantuan riffs and gargling, gain-saturated guitar tones, Bellamy and his bandmates pull no punches as they serve up a brutal – yet incredibly welcome – metal-inspired offering.

Standout guitar moment: That chaotic final post-chorus breakdown. No ifs, no buts. That outro guitar line is simply relentless, and we hope there will be more like it when Muse inevitably drop their next album.

For fans of: Royal Blood, Nothing But Thieves, Foals

Sam Roche

Fontaines D.C. - Jackie Down the Line

What is it? The Dublin post-punk outfit’s flirtation with Cure-inspired atmospherics, Jackie Down the Line is all modulated clean chimes and guttural Bass VI rhythms. Given this is the first single to be taken from forthcoming third album, Skinty Fia – following full-length records in 2020 and 2019 – the quantity and quality of material being produced by Fontaines D.C. is quite remarkable.

Standout guitar moment: It’s gotta be that opening Bass VI part. Fender’s Justin Norvell told us interest in the low-tuned instrument has exploded following the release of The Beatles: Get Back, and this track is further evidence of its ability to shape any material that plays host to its guttural heft.

For fans of: The Cure, IDLES, Squid

– Michael Astley-Brown

Envy of None – Liar

What is it? The debut single from Alex Lifeson’s new band, Envy of None. The track sees the former Rush guitarist take a more synth-influenced musical direction than he has been known for, which he “proudly” acknowledges. It does however feature plenty of strong Nine Inch Nails-inspired guitar textures.

Standout guitar moment: Nothing glaringly obvious, but there are loads of subtly layered acoustic guitar lines going on underneath the in-your-face synths.

For fans of: Nine Inch Nails, HEALTH

Sam Roche

Shamir – Reproductive

What is it? The beautiful, introspective third single from the Las Vegas-born, Philly-based singer/songwriter’s much-anticipated upcoming album, Hetereosexuality

Standout guitar moment: Those swan-dive slides in Reproductive’s chorus gives the song a dream-like quality that brings the best aspects of shoegaze to mind, without any of that genre’s intentional obfuscation.

For fans of: Cocteau Twins, Pixies

Jackson Maxwell

Pavement – Be The Hook 

What is it? A previously unreleased track taken from Pavement’s 1998 Twilight Terror sessions, which is set to be reissued as an expanded 45-track offering later this year. Boasting a swaggering chord progression propped up by some delightful cleans and a charming solo, the track is quite simply quintessential Pavement.

Standout guitar moment: The clean tone employed throughout is worthy of a mention, but the standout moment has to go to that nonchalant quick-fire solo, which mirrors the vocals with a quirky charm.

For fans of: Silkworm, Dinosaur Jr., Pixies

Matt Owen

Cloakroom - Fear of Being Fixed

What is it? Like fuzz? You’ll love Cloakroom. Despite frontman Doyle Martin and bassist Bobby Markos slathering their tones in the stuff, the Indiana trio still conjure plenty of dynamism through smart arrangements that meld shoegaze ethereality with stoner swagger.

Standout guitar moment: The psychedelic middle eight, which weaves ringing acoustic lines over a sea of sludge.

For fans of: Hum, Cave In, Torche

– Michael Astley-Brown

Christian Lee Hutson – Rubberneckers

What is it? Featuring Phoebe Bridgers behind the boards and on backing vocals, Rubberneckers is the humbly tuneful lead single from singer/songwriter Christian Lee Hutson’s sophomore solo album, Quitters.

Standout guitar moment: Always one to color a song’s edges with textural work, Hutson does allow himself a solo here. The nifty hooks within show what a craftsman he is, while the overcooked filter effects give the proceedings a charming, self-deprecating sense of humor.

For fans of: Phoebe Bridgers, Better Oblivion Community Center, Wilco

Jackson Maxwell

Korn – Forgotten

What is it? Only another massive-sounding single from one of the biggest nu-metal names in the world. The second track from their forthcoming album Requiem – which arrives February 4 – Forgotten finds James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch once again offering up their finest seven-string guitar work.

Standout guitar moment: That absolutely monstrous opening riff. Obviously.

For fans of: Static-X, Limp Bizkit, System of a Down

Sam Roche

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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.