Here in the States, Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. Though it's been a year for the history books in a number of ways both good and terrible, one thing we at Guitar World HQ are certainly thankful for is that there's still plenty of amazing innovation on the guitar front for us to tell you about every week.
These past few days have certainly been no exception, with the long-awaited first solo single from Wolfgang Van Halen's solo project – Mammoth WVH – a fascinating slice of grunge revival from Suspect208, and a powerful, emotionally (and musically) heavy new tune from Machine Head all arriving in recent days.
That's just the tip of the iceberg however, so if you're looking to heat up your playlist with awesome new guitar music as the weather grows colder, read on!
Mammoth WVH – Distance
Wolfgang Van Halen said recently that he never intended for Distance to be the first track the world heard from his (very) long-awaited solo debut, but the loss of his father, Eddie Van Halen, last month inspired him to change course.
Credited to Mammoth WVH (though Wolfgang handles every instrument, in addition to the vocals) Distance is a deeply moving ballad that reduces an impossibly larger-than-life man – who changed the way the guitar was played and perceived – to who he was to Wolfgang, a caring and loving father with whom he shared an unbreakable bond.
Unsurprisingly, Wolfgang shines on every instrument. His drumming is thunderous, with his bass playing displaying that same muscle, but also a perfect sense of how to hold the song down.
Of course, people will focus on the climactic, cathartic solo (it’s a brilliant display of chops, mind you) but equally impressive is Wolfgang’s dynamic rhythm playing, which’ll undoubtedly remind you of a certain other guitarist whose jaw-dropping guitar acrobatics tended to outshine his equally groundbreaking rhythm work… (JM)
Suspect208 – Long Awaited
The name might not mean much to you yet, but boy, does this band have some pedigree, with a line-up made up of the offspring of some of rock’s biggest stars. Namely, singer Noah Weiland (son of Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland), 18-year-old drummer London Hudson (son of Guns N’ Roses’ Slash) and bassist Tye Trujillo (son of Metallica’s Robert Trujillo).
Yet despite the star power of its frontman and rhythm section, it’s guitarist Niko Tsangaris who really shines on this debut single, with a touch and feel way beyond his years, displayed in both his wailing solos and grunge-indebted powerchord riffs. (MAB)
The Pretty Reckless – 25
This ominous new number comes ahead of the Taylor Momsen-led quartet’s upcoming fourth studio album, Death By Rock And Roll. Deviating somewhat from the record’s first single and title track, 25 trades attitude-driven hard-rock riffs for a far more atmospheric arrangement.
Guitar-wise, the verses feature a satisfyingly brooding gain-tinged arpeggio line, which is built upon throughout the chorus by a rising octave passage. The line climaxes when the instrumental section drops out, leaving Momsen to deliver a vocal line that takes the track seamlessly back into the verse.
The guitar work here is simple, but exactly what the track requires, and it’s executed brilliantly. (SR)
Machine Head – My Hands Are Empty
Robb Flynn has never been one to shy away tough lyrical themes when writing for Machine Head. This year alone has seen the band release Circle the Drain – which deals with a friend’s failing relationship after returning from Afghanistan – as well as two tracks about the Black Lives Matter protests, Stop the Bleeding (Feat. Jesse Leach) and Bulletproof.
Latest track – and the first to feature Burn My Eyes-era guitarist Logan Mader in 24 years – My Hands Are Empty is no less thematically heavy, dealing with the issues of depression and opioid addiction.
Its lyrical themes are effectively mirrored in its instrumentation, too; the track’s unpredictable – both heavy and melodic in equal measure, and it navigates between the two with seamless ease. (SR)
Chris Kelly – Silver Linings
You might not recognize Chris Kelly’s face, but you’ll have certainly heard his virtuosic skills as 'Dark Vader', one-third of prog-metal Star Wars tribute Galactic Empire’s triple-guitar attack. But where much of that band’s material leans on the dark side, Kelly’s debut single is far more optimistic in tone.
Silver Linings is an elegantly layered slice of pop-punk-tinged progressive rock, which allows Kelly’s impressive array of melodic chops to shine through, climaxing with a flurry of alternate and sweep picking at the track’s zenith. An exciting new voice in instrumental rock. (MAB)
Palberta – Corner Store
One of the more idiosyncratic rock bands to emerge from New York in recent years, Palberta seem bound to reach even greater audiences with their new album, Palberta5000.
Corner Store, the album’s second single, shows you why you should have your eyes on this trio if you don’t already. A ping-ponging vocal arrangement, an infectious bassline and punky riffing make for a delightfully off-beat piece of guitar-pop perfection that truly sounds like nothing else out there. (JM)
Black Veil Brides – Scarlet Cross
If re-recording their entire debut album this year wasn’t enough, Andy Biersack and co earlier this week announced a brand-new concept record, The Phantom Tomorrow. It’s set to follow an antihero named The Blackbird, and a group of outcasts known as The Phantom Tomorrow.
More importantly, the album’s first single, Scarlet Cross, sees guitar duo Jake Pitts and Jinxx return to deliver that trademark BVB blend of chunky riffs, melodic phrasing and tasty harmonized leads. We’re excited to hear what the rest of the album has to offer. (SR)