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From Egyptian death metal to folk-ambient tranquility: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Marty Friedman
(Image credit: Marty Friedman/YouTube)

Fall is truly in full swing, which means – aside from pumpkins dotting everyone’s porches – there’s more new music around than is easy to keep track of.

Lucky for you, it’s our job to do just that! This week, we’ve collected a great bundle of new, guitar-heavy tunes that’ll be perfect for whatever musical void you might be looking to fill.

Whether you fancy some punishing Egyptian death metal (with vocals recorded inside a pyramid!) or a 21-minute piece of ASMR-esque folk-ambient perfection, you can hear the guitar being pushed in all sorts of new and exciting directions in this playlist.

So take a minute (you’ve earned it!) and see where the guitar is headed. 

Marty Friedman – The Perfect World (feat. +a/Alfakyun)

Earlier this year, the former Megadeth guitarist resumed his series of J-pop-inspired album releases with Tokyo Jukebox 3, on which he said he’d ditched reverb and delay so his solos could “live and breathe more”.

Those sonic payoffs are certainly apparent on this latest single and collaboration with Japanese singer +a/Alfakyun, as Friedman’s astonishing alternate-picking is laid bare for much of the track – although he does dial in a lil’ ’verb for the hugely vocal solo, which sees him perform against the backdrop of an alien city. Really. (MAB)

Adrianne Lenker – music for indigo

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic this spring, Big Thief frontwoman and mastermind Adrianne Lenker retreated into a cabin in the woods of Western Massachusetts, where she soon recorded songs and instrumentals, twin albums that – despite their opposing formats – stand together as a single, remarkable work.

Buffeted by chimes and the organic sounds of the cabin, music for indigo – the first of the two long-form pieces on instrumentals is a wild, untamed thing of beauty.

Unbound by any constraints, it’s a clear-as-day 21-minute look into Lenker’s fascinating approach to the guitar. She explores with confidence throughout, turning up stunning progressions, gorgeous fingerpicking patterns and stirring riffs that – often with the aid of chiming harmonics – blend seamlessly into the natural sounds of rain lashing against the cabinet and birds chirping outside.

Made as a piece for Lenker’s former partner to listen to as she fell asleep, music for indigo can be anything you want it to be: a slice of tranquility in an ever-uncertain world, a blissful piece of ASMR to help you sleep, or an exhilarating document of the unique creative process of one of the world’s most exciting and original singer/songwriters. (JM) 

Nader Sadek – The Serapeum (Polluted Waters) ft. Karl Sanders, Derek Roddy and more

Egyptian-American death-metal merchant Nader Sadek assembled a wealth of six-string talent for this blistering new single, with Nile’s Karl Sanders handling rhythm guitar, Perversions’ Mahmud Gecekusu on leads, and Alex Zubair on harmonies.

The Serapeum (Polluted Waters) is, of course, a brutal assault on the senses, its opening post-metal ambience crumbling to frenetic double-bass and tremolo picking, before a sludgy palm-muted outro sends the track home.

Fun fact: Sadek actually recorded the vocals inside Giza’s Red Pyramid. Ace. (MAB)

Lydia Loveless – Say My Name

One of the highlights of Daughter, the fifth album from Ohio singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless, the slow-burning Say My Name is packed with absolutely immaculate playing.

From the fullness of the rhythm guitar track, to the soft, jangling leads and the hard-edged, Southern rock-informed guitar hook that drives the chorus home, this is a masterclass in taking a wide variety of six-string instincts, giving each of them their own space to breath, but subduing them effectively to the powerful song they’re there to serve. (JM) 

Khruangbin – Summer Madness

Kool & the Gang might be best known for Celebration, a simplistic-but-funky chart-topper so ubiquitous that it doesn’t need much of an introduction, and is probably stuck in your head now. Sorry about that! 

That song, though, tends to obscure the amazing chops the groundbreaking ensemble has always possessed. Those skills might be demonstrated best on their futuristic, neon-lit 1974 R&B masterpiece, Summer Madness, a track that forecasted many of the directions American music would take in the decades to come.

So, who better to tackle this classic than one of guitar music’s most forward-looking, genre-blurring groups? Khruangbin’s beautiful cover may be a faithful one when it comes to the funky rhythm, but Mark Speer’s rich, reverb-coated leads take the original’s melody – played on an early synth – to another planet. We just wish we could’ve enjoyed this hypnotic jam when it was warmer outside! (JM)

Sevendust – Dying to Live

The latest single to land from the alt-metal survivors’ 13th studio effort, Blood & Stone, is classic ’dust, with a satisfyingly groovy juggernaut of a riff, and an arena-worthy chorus.

Clint Lowery and John Connolly’s tones continue to strike the perfect balance between gain and clarity, while their playing – whether it’s down-tuned single-string riffery or sinister wailing – always serves the song. (MAB)

Nobuki Takamen – Just One Story

This month saw NYC-based guitarist, composer and tutor Nobuki Takamen release Life is Now, a new full-length chock-full of tasteful, tonesome jazz guitar.

Throughout the album’s nine tracks, Takamen wrings some of the sweetest tones we’ve heard in some time from his 335, but it’s his exquisite, sensitive phrasing and voice leading that make this a must-listen for trad-jazz fans. (MAB)