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From radical acoustic reinventions to masterclasses in metalcore: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

 Rise Against perform on stage at O2 Academy on November 4, 2014 in Leeds, United Kingdom.
(Image credit: Ross Gilmore/Redferns/Getty Images)

Welcome back to another edition of Guitar World’s essential guitar tracks! We’ve been on the lookout for the hottest tracks from the six-string world in the last seven days, and boy, do we have some juicy material for you this time.

We’ve got a new single from Chicago punk/hardcore titans Rise Against, a couple of the heaviest metalcore tracks you’ll hear all week, a sweet new acoustic offering from Tyler Ramsey and loads more.

So sit back, and get ready to indulge in some of the most satisfying guitar work released in the past week.

Tyler Ramsey - Back on the Chain Gang 

Tyler Ramsey made his name adding dazzling textures and colors to the music of indie stalwarts Band of Horses as their lead guitarist for almost a decade, but the Asheville, North Carolina-based musician is also a uniquely gifted singer/songwriter in his own right.

Ramsey is also the kind of guitarist who intuitively knows how to serve a song best with his playing, and he demonstrates that hard-to-come-by skill beautifully on his new single, a brilliantly unique acoustic reinvention of the Pretenders’ “Back On The Chain Gang."

Blooming with exquisite vocals from Ramsey and Annie Williams, anchored by sturdy, expressive fingerpicking, and spiced up with just the right electric fills and touches, this cover is an absolute thing of beauty. (JM) 

Fit For A King - The Path

When Fit For A King drop new material, you know it’ll deliver even before you listen. And lucky for all you metalheads out there, the Texas natives just unleashed an entire new album - their sixth full-length effort to date - The Path.

While the entire record is a masterclass in modern metalcore, it’s the title track that we felt we had to shout about this week. The song opens with a simple yet effective guitar riff, underpinned by earth-rumbling drums and a strategically placed church bell, which serves to signal to listeners the destruction to come.

Following with the band’s distinctively catchy choruses, dual leads, a couple of mind-bending guitar solos and a breakdown that’s certain to blow your socks off, The Path is a true knockout. (SR)

Tomberlin - Hours

Tomberlin’s 2018 debut album, At Weddings, immediately marked her as one of the most strikingly gifted singer/songwriters to emerge in the second half of the 2010s.

From the sounds of Hours - the second single to be released from her upcoming EP, Projections - Tomberlin’s strengths as a songsmith have only grown in the intervening couple of years. 

Compared to the tunes found on At Weddings, the acoustic riff here is a little more multi-faceted, the song a bit more fleshed out with some muted percussion. Tomberlin’s take-your-breath-away lyrics, however, haven’t lost an ounce of their power. (JM)

Alpha Wolf - Restricted (R18+)

This one is a true sonic onslaught - and we love it. It’s got about as much variation as one can possibly fit in a single metalcore track: tempo changes, eerie samples, tectonic changes in dynamics. If this track was a metalcore newcomer’s first listen, they’d quickly and comprehensively gather what the genre is about. 

Guitar-wise, it’s rife with fretboard-spanning riffs, Gojira-style pickscrapes and hellish single-note breakdown lines. Oh, and that breakdown - you’d better brace yourself... (SR)

Aimee Mann - Avalanche

The acoustic fingerpicking on Leonard Cohen’s thundering 1971 masterpiece, Avalanche, conjures images of the impending catastrophe implied by the song’s title. 

Recorded for the HBO documentary I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, Aimee Mann’s new version of the brooding folk classic matches Cohen’s near-paranoid acoustic attack punch for punch. Accented by stunning string arrangements, this is a phenomenal remake, both approachable and a perfect musical entry point for the horrific subject matter of the film it soundtracks. (JM) 

10 Years - Waiting

This one comes from the Tennessee natives’ ninth studio album, Violent Allies, which dropped today. Harking back to the sound of early-2000s hard rock, Waiting blends nostalgia with modern day compositional sensibilities, doing so to wonderful effect.

While the guitar lines are relatively simple, they’re exactly what the song requires, showcasing the mature writing abilities of guitarists Brian Vodinh and Matt Wantland. There is, however, some heavy wah usage for the effects enthusiasts amongst you... (SR)

Told Slant - No Backpack

2020 has brought precious little in the way of welcome news, but the return of Felix Walworth’s Told Slant project after four years should definitely be seen as such.

No Backpack is an immaculately arranged slice of sub-three-minute pop perfection, finding Walworth twisting pretty, star-gazing leads around a driving rhythm. There’s so much to be cynical about nowadays, but it’s impossible to stare this pure and good a love song down and not come away feeling a touch more optimistic about life and its many twists. (JM)

Rise Against - Broken Dreams, Inc.

This legendary Chicago punk/hardcore outfit may have emerged in the late ‘90s/early 2000s, but their zest for music is as fiery as ever. Take Broken Dreams, Inc.: a catchy yet equally heavy juggernaut with fast-paced drums, super-melodic vocals and enough guitar work to keep any six-stringer happy. Pick slides, powerchords, multiple riffs - you name it, this track’s got it. (SR)