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From flamenco trap-shred to glitch-guitar stabs: here are this week's essential tracks

Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie performs at 2022 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course on April 29, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana
(Image credit: Erika Goldring/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.

Polyphia – Playing God

What is it? The first new music in three years from the most exciting band in instrumental guitar music. Hitting one million views in just two days, Playing God finds Tim Henson and Scott LePage unplugging their signature Ibanez electrics and instead turning to a pair of custom Talman nylon-string acoustics for a flamenco-inspired take on their typical trap-shred formula.

Standout guitar moment: LePage’s runs are just outrageous when that beat first drops, full of cheeky passing notes and precise-engineered alternate picking. The borderline George Benson-esque 7th-based outro section acts as a playground for Henson’s wildest melodic ideas, too.

For fans of: In a feat of cross-promotional savvy, we’d suggest these 10 trap and lo-fi beat-loving guitar players you need to check out

– Michael Astley-Brown

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – No Confidence

What is it? Side A from the lead single of the always-ambitious Texas band’s forthcoming 11th studio album, XI: Bleed Here Now, No Confidence is an operatic, multi-part rocker designed to shake the rafters and bring the roof down.

Standout guitar moment: With a walloping low-end, bluesy swagger and galloping rhythm, No Confidence’s central riff is a slice of pure, ultra-satisfying brawn straight from the school of Jimmy Page. While the rhythm guitar track holds down the fort with the riff though, the lead guitar track runs happily amok, doubling the riff up an octave only when it feels the need to, otherwise dipping into squeals of feedback and blasting off into the sky with a wah-drenched explosion of fretboard acrobatics at around the 3:45 mark.

For fans of: Led Zeppelin, Wolfmother, At the Drive-In

Jackson Maxwell

My Chemical Romance – The Foundations of Decay

What is it? MCR’s first original material since 2014. The track – which was surprise-dropped yesterday, will delight any eyeliner-loving emo rock fan, as it’s packed full of slower, contemplative verses, anthemic sing-along choruses, and even a breakdown for the more heavy metal-inclined.

Standout guitar moment: Lead guitar takes a backseat here, but the eight-note line from the 4:03 mark serves a sense of melodic satisfaction after the heavier breakdown section that precedes it.

For fans of: Panic! At The Disco, Mayday Parade, Frank Iero and the Future Violents

Sam Roche

I Built the Sky – Let Yourself Dream

What is it? Another virtuoso trading in his electric for an acoustic, Rohan ‘Ro’ Stevenson’s latest album under the I Built the Sky banner, The Quiet Place Away, finds him translating his melodic chops to the unplugged world, with spectacular results.

Standout guitar moment: IBTS’s prog-metal stylings translate surprisingly well to the acoustic format, with smart harmonic flourishes adding technical intrigue to the emotive voice-leading chord progression.

For fans of: Plini, Sithu Aye

– Michael Astley-Brown

State Champs – Here to Stay

What is it? New York pop-punk stalwarts State Champs returned today with their fourth studio album, Kings of the New Age. Expectedly, the record is brimming with feel-good riffs and uplifting, ever-catchy vocal hooks, none more standout than on its opener, Here to Stay.

Standout guitar moment: Like any strong pop-punk banger, powerchords make up the bulk of the guitar work on Here to Stay, though its opening riff sets the stage for an album of straight-up good vibes.

For fans of: Neck Deep, Four Year Strong, Meet Me @ The Altar

Sam Roche

Black Midi – Welcome to Hell

What is it? A typically playful new offering from the UK post-rock hellraisers, delivered less than a year since the release of remarkable second album, Cavalcade. It’s set to appear on third record, Hellfire, which has been dubbed an “epic action film” by Reverend-toting frontman Geordie Greep.

Standout guitar moment: The chromatically charged thrash section three minutes in, seguing into a gloriously cartoonish outro that’s as playful as anything from Guthrie Govan’s Aristocrats.

For fans of: King Crimson, Black Country, New Road, The Aristocrats

– Michael Astley-Brown

Five Finger Death Punch – IOU

What is it? The second single from Five Finger Death Punch’s forthcoming ninth album, AfterLife. Doubling down on the momentum of the record’s first single and title track, IOU is hammered into shape by the band’s trademark blend of gut-punching riffs and melodic hooks, and features some killer guitar work from new guitarist Andy James.

Standout guitar moment: James – for whom AfterLife will be his first full-length with the band – offers up a blistering solo with an unrelenting volley of 16th notes from the 2:43 mark.

For fans of: Killswitch Engage, Machine Head, Stone Sour 

Sam Roche

Nova Twins – Puzzles

What is it? The latest slice of grimy alt-rock from the London duo responsible for the nastiest tones in contemporary guitar music. A sex-positive anthem inspired by R&B, Puzzles rips up the sex-jam rulebook with savage riffs and wild pitch-shifted slides.

Standout guitar moment: It’s got to be that gut-punching main riff, which goes off like a festival crowd jumping to a Tom Morello salvo, but we love those neat Whammy’d trill overdubs in the second verse, too.

For fans of: Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, th1rt3en

– Michael Astley-Brown

Death Cab for Cutie – Roman Candles 

What is it? The lead single from the indie greats’ forthcoming 10th studio offering, Roman Candles is an intriguing tune. Barely two minutes, it mixes Death Cab sonic hallmarks – a simple, propulsive bassline and Ben Gibbard’s yearning vocal delivery – with unexpected notes of discord.  

Standout guitar moment: Even if you were a bit keyed in by the urgency of the bass drum hits that anchor the song, the heavily processed, glitch-guitar-like line that bursts through the song’s tense fabric at the start of the second verse will still come as a bit of a shock. Good to know that these indie-pop forefathers can still surprise after all these years. 

For fans of: New Order, The National, Modest Mouse

Jackson Maxwell

Charlie Griffiths – Tiktaalika

What is it? The first single and title track of the Haken guitarist’s upcoming debut solo album. If there were ever a song too difficult to assign a genre it’d be Tiktaalika. It draws influence from everything from avant-garde to straight up heavy metal, resulting in one of the most sonically intriguing cuts of the year so far.

Standout guitar moment: In nine minutes, it’s pretty hard to select just one standout guitar moment, but the harmonized passage from the 1:30 is particularly tasty. That said, the solo from the 7:19 mark is both expertly crafted and skillfully delivered. It’s just too damn hard to decide.

For fans of: Primus, King Crimson

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.