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From awe-inspiring 8-string debuts to distorto-boogie: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Sasami Ashworth of Sasami performs during FORM Arcosanti 2019 at Arcosanti Urban Laboratory on May 12, 2019 in Arcosanti, Arizona.
Sasami (Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Though we’re all excited for Halloween weekend here at GW HQ, our weekly obligation to bring you planet Earth’s most exciting new guitar music stops for no holiday. (Okay, maybe it does for a couple, but not for this one.)

This week’s lineup includes a breathtaking slice of metal guitar from Sasami, the awe-inspiring recorded debut of John Petrucci’s new signature 8-string Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty, the riff-heavy return of Slash Ft. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, and a whole lot more.

Let’s not waste any more time, then, for ample guitar greatness awaits…

Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators – The River Is Rising

With the news that Guns N’ Roses have yet to write any original music since reuniting – their recent releases being reworks of old Chinese Democracy material – we’re pinning our hard-rock hopes once more on the eternally reliable pairing of Slash and Myles Kennedy.

Along with the rest of the Conspirators, the group have dropped the first blast from 4, the band’s no-nonsense fourth album and the first to be released on Gibson’s newly launched record label.

It won’t come as a surprise to hear that The River Is Rising, sounds like, well, Slash and Kennedy, all full-fat LP-into-Marshall tones and wailing vocals. But there are plenty of neat touches: the way the Top Hatted Axeman-in-Chief sneaks a few cheeky pentatonic licks and chromatic riffs into the chorus chord progression and the Paradise City-esque double-time solo section, to name but two.

Indeed, when the Gibson Brand Ambassador is releasing material like this, GNR can most certainly wait. (MAB)

Dream Theater – Awaken the Master

Prog titans Dream Theater this week released their 15th studio album, A View from the Top of the World, and beyond its abundance of time signature-fluid, characteristically out-of-this-world arrangements, it marks the first instance of John Petrucci playing an eight-string electric guitar on record.

The album’s sixth track, Awaken the Master – which clocks in at nine minutes and 47 seconds, a middle-of-the-road runtime by Dream Theater’s standards – sees Trooch tap into almost every available resource in his arsenal, using a prototype of his recently released signature Ernie Ball Music Man eight-string Majesty to deploy a clutch of devilishly low-register riffs and soaring guitar solos, reminding us once again why he’s the unrivaled master of modern prog-rock guitar. (SR)

Spoon - The Hardest Cut

What do you get when you take the ample swagger and strut of ‘70s boogie-rock and filter it through the sometimes cynical but ultimately empathetic eyes of a band like Spoon? Something, it would seem, like The Hardest Cut.  

The lead single from Lucifer on the Sofa – the Austin natives’ first album of new material in almost five years – The Hardest Cut is no mere period piece or simple homage.

Lead singer and guitarist Britt Daniel lets his signature Telecaster Thinline do a lot of the talking, imbuing the song with Billy Gibbons-informed riffing and chord stabs that have bite, growl, and attitude for days, while never straying from their core rhythmic purpose.

The unexpected star of the show, however, is Gerardo Larios. Having only joined the group as a full-time member in 2019, he puts the bow on top of this rocker with a smokin’ solo anchored in blues and rockabilly tradition and powered by jet-fueled punk aggression. 

Spoon’s flirtation with electronic textures on their last LP, 2017’s Hot Thoughts, wasn’t unwelcome, of course. This no-holds-barred groove-guitar-rock fire, though? We can’t get enough of it. (JM)

Moon Tooth – Nymphaeaceae

With their second album, 2019’s Crux, the Long Island hard-rock outfit took guitar circles by storm, and we’re expecting similar results from their forthcoming third effort.

Nymphaeaceae displays the band’s knack for weaving progressive traits into a rock-meets-metal context, as Nick Lee’s right hand goes into overdrive with some outrageously tight palm-muting that simply does not let up for four glorious minutes.

In fact, Lee’s formidable fretboard dexterity shines throughout, whether tackling relentless thrash riffs or Hendrixian arpeggios. Basically, it’s brilliant. Just don’t ask us to pronounce the song title (it’s the scientific name for water lilies, don’tcha know). (MAB)

Sasami – Skin A Rat

The debut album from one-time Cherry Glazerr synth player Sasami Ashworth was one of 2019’s most unexpected musical gifts, with powerful songwriting and meticulously-constructed layers of guitar that dazzled on first listen and only got better with further exploration.

Skin A Rat is one of two simultaneously released lead singles from the LA native’s upcoming sophomore album, Squeeze – the other being the riff/fuzz-tacular The Greatest – and marks a distinct sonic shift, to put it mildly. 

Featuring Megadeth’s Dirk Verbeuren on drums, this blistering, sub-three-minute tune is ready for any metal festival. Guitar-wise, Sasami’s simply on fire – leading off the song with a brutal riff and coloring its chorus with a slithering, thrash-y figure that really sneaks up on you.

Skin A Rat leaves a trail of destruction in its wake and doesn’t stop to blink an eye along the way. It’s breathtaking stuff. (JM)

Arch Enemy – Deceiver, Deceiver

Deceiver, Deceiver might be Arch Enemy’s first original music in four years, but they’re back with a vengeance.

The new track sees formidable guitar duo Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis serve up a six-string tour de force, incorporating everything from thunderous riffs – which complement the rapid-fire stick work of drummer Daniel Erlandsson – to a face-melting lead guitar battle, in which Loomis plays whammy bar dives and frantic alternate picking runs while Amott explores melodic two-handed tapping. (SR)

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, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half 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.