From full-throttle carnage to Sweet Potato Pie: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead perform during 2016 Lollapalooza Day Two at Grant Park on July 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois
(Image credit: Barry Brecheisen/WireImage)

Well, it’s officially 2022 – a big pat on the back to all of us for making it through 2021 – and you'll be pleased to hear the New Year won’t just be ushering in a host of Resolutions that we’ll all inevitably give up on come February.

Nay, dear readers, for 2022 is also marking the introduction of the all-new Essential Tracks of the Week format. Don’t fret: you’ll still get your weekly fix of guitar goodness to quench your thirst, though the way in which such music will be presented has undergone a bit of an overhaul.

It’s all very straightforward. Each entry now gets right to the crux of the track, courtesy of the eloquent sub-headings “What is it?”, “Standout guitar moment” and “For fans of”. So don’t be put off when you’re met with some unfamiliar TOTW action – who knows, you may even unearth a name or two you’ve never come across.

Right, enough preamble, let’s get straight into it. This week, we’ve got The Smile, Loathe, Widowspeak, Cory Wong and many more six-string delicacies on the agenda. Not a bad way to start the year, huh?

Loathe - Dimorphous Display

What is it? The new single from the band the world’s hailing as the next Deftones, and their first heavy offering since last year’s ambient release, The Things They Believe. It’s a dystopian shoegaze nightmare, fusing metalcore riffs with woozy synths, and a potent distillation of their brutally beautiful formula.

Standout guitar moment: Naturally, that opening baritone riff is an absolute bruiser, but the Phantom of the Opera-style descending chromatic run in the chorus gets us every time.

For fans of: Deftones, Deafheaven, Nothing

– Michael Astley-Brown

The Smile - You Will Never Work In Television Again

What is it? The debut single from the power trio featuring Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood and Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner, this blistering rocker takes Yorke and Greenwood all the way back to their formative indie/post-punk influences, to stunning effect.

Standout guitar moment: Peep that riff! Dead simple, urgent and pissed-off, it’s easily the most frenetic and exciting guitar figure Yorke’s laid down in over a decade. 

For fans of: Sonic Youth, Radiohead 

Jackson Maxwell

Falling in Reverse – Zombified

What is it? A new standalone single from the Ronnie Radke-fronted metal outfit. Here, they deviate little from their usual brand of poppy metalcore – and formulaically it’s near-identical to their massive 2019 single Popular Monster, but why fix something that ain’t broke?

Standout guitar moment: The track’s main riff is an earworm that’ll get stuck in your head for days, but the frantic breakdown section beginning at the 2:17 mark is chock-full of killer riffs.

For fans of: Asking Alexandria, Ice Nine Kills, Motionless in White

– Sam Roche

Widowspeak – Everything Is Simple

What is it? Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas’s latest slice of indie-folk perfection, and the first taste of sixth studio album, The Jacket. With lashings of gritty tweed guitar twangs, it evokes the glory days of live ’60s studio recordings, in particular Neil Young’s more contemplative moments. Sublime.

Standout guitar moment: That hypnotic drop D riff and the refreshingly off-the-cuff, subtly evolving lead overdubs that reward repeat listens.

For fans of: Big Thief, Neil Young, Yo La Tengo

– Michael Astley-Brown

Battle Beast – Where Angels Fear to Fly

What is it? The latest single from Finnish power metal six-piece, Battle Beast. If you’re a power metal fan, this’ll scratch all your itches with singing lead guitars, triumphant chord changes and soaring lead vocals from frontwoman Noora Louhimo.

Standout guitar moment: The virtuosic, ultra-melodic, whammy bar-tinged lead line at the 2:50 mark.

For fans of: Nightwish, Sabaton, Temperance

– Sam Roche

Cory Wong – Sweet Potato Pie 

What is it? Wong’s Cafe is technically a Vulfpeck record, though the focus is firmly on funk lord Cory Wong, who has – unsurprisingly – already released an album just seven days into 2022. Sweet Potato Pie, though, flips the familiar script and sees Wong don his acoustic for a swaggering blues-y number filled with tasty pentatonic lines and swampy chromatic noodles.

Standout guitar moment: Surprisingly, there’s no rapid-fire right-hand Strat action to drool over. Instead, the chromatic-filled blues noodlings of the outro solo – see the 1:55 mark – steal the show.

For fans of: The Fearless Flyers, Ariel Posen, Mark Lettieri

Matt Owen

Fit For an Autopsy – Two Towers

What is it? The fourth single from the New Jersey six-piece's forthcoming sixth album, Oh What the Future Holds, out January 14. Clocking in at almost six minutes, this track shines a light on the immense talents of guitar trio Will Putney, Pat Sheridan and Tim Howley.

Standout guitar moment: That beautifully melodic guitar solo at the 4:17 mark, which offers a soothing respite from the track’s prior full-throttle carnage.

For fans of: Venom Prison, Make Them Suffer, Slaughter to Prevail

– Sam Roche

Paniyolo – DAY 

What is it? You’d be hard pressed to find guitar music that’s as serene as Paniyolo’s DAY this January. If you’re looking for a peaceful listening experience, look no further than the dreamy classical guitar musings of this accomplished Japanese acoustic guitar player. 

Standout guitar moment: Sometimes less is more, and those simple-yet-effective chord-melody embellishments that crop up throughout DAY throw up some delightful decorative nuances.

For fans of: Yasmin Williams, Haley Heynderickx, Florist 

Matt Owen

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.