From Viking metal to indie disco: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Karen O (left) and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform at ACL Live on May 7, 2019 in Austin, Texas
(Image credit: Rick Kern/WireImage)

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.

Sylosis – Heavy Is the Crown

What is it? A smashing new single from British thrash metal torchbearers, Sylosis. It finds the Josh Middleton-led four-piece in stellar form as ever, as they issue a barrage of pummeling alternate-picking riffage atop a gloriously unrelenting drum performance from Ali Richardson, and some grandiose chorus melodies, to boot.

The track’s outro breakdown (from 3:56) is perhaps a compositional highlight, with Middleton and his co-guitarist Alex Bailey trading brief palm-muted open-string bursts in the left and right side of the stereo field.

Standout guitar moment: Middleton’s solo from the 2:45 mark is blisteringly quick, and highlights his skills not only as a vocalist, but as a shredding lead guitarist.

For fans of: Trivium, Bleed From Within, Within The Ruins

Sam Roche

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Burning

What is it? The second single from Cool It Down, the first new full-length from this beloved trio in almost a decade. With strutting piano, groovy bass, and excitable strings, Burning is a swaggering piece of indie-disco from one of the genre’s pioneers.

Standout guitar moment: The fuzz tone Nick Zinner gets when he enters the picture before the first chorus is pure filth, and a visceral reminder of just how many bands followed the YYY’s garage-rock-for-the-dancefloor template in their wake.

For fans of: The Strokes, Jessie Ware, The Kills

Jackson Maxwell

Pale Waves – Clean

What is it? Glossy, pop-punk with the emphasis on pop, straight outta Manchester via L.A. The band wrote and tracked new album, Unwanted, in Los Angeles under the auspices of producer Zakk Cervini. 

Having worked with the likes of Blink-182, Good Charlotte et al, Cervini was a safe pair of hands for adding studio gloss to a record that foregrounds guitars like they never have before. Pale Waves used to reference more spangly indie and synth influences but as vocalist/guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie explained, this time she wanted "heavy distortion and chaos and power”.

Standout guitar moment: The way the track is engineered and assembled is such that's there to support Baron-Gracie's vocals, but the way the guitars create create an exit from the middle eight makes it required study for any young player who with ambitions to make it as a pop songwriter.

For fans of: Sum 41, Blink-182, Paramore

– Jonathan Horsley

Slipknot – Yen

What is it? The brooding third single from the Iowa titans’ upcoming seventh album, The End, So Far. Less intense than previously released singles The Chapeltown Rag and The Dying Song (Time to Sing), but matched in terms of the pure grit and emotion conveyed in Corey Taylor’s voice, Yen is likely to be The End, So Far’s Vermillion – a mid-set dose of respite, a melodic interlude that showcases the nine-piece’s ever-present penchant for slower tracks amongst their otherwise chaotic back catalog.

Standout guitar moment: The track’s main distorted riff – which first appears at the 1:34 mark – carries more weight than perhaps many other Slipknot tracks, owing to its drop A tuning (most of the band’s songs are played in drop B). As a result, those open string notes really help bring the bleak nature of Yen to life.

For fans of: Stone Sour, Korn

Sam Roche

Revocation – Re-Crucified

What is it? This is the hectic gallop of melodic death metal, a song inspired by Dante's Inferno that closes out the Boston stalwarts's forthcoming album with a bona fide faceripper. Revocation enlisted the vocal talents of Cannibal Corpse's George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher and Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder for this track. Tragically, Strnad died shortly after recording the track.

"I was completely devastated by the news," wrote guitarist/vocalist David Davidson. "Trevor was a close, personal friend of mine, and his passing was a terrible loss, not only for myself, but for the entire metal community. 

"I'm proud that I could be a part of Trevor's immense and storied legacy in some small way. His performance along with George's are two of the highlights of the record for me. Rest in power Trevor, you will be sorely missed but your legacy will never die."

Standout guitar moment: David Davidson is one of those guys who absolutely rips it up. If you're a rhythm guitar nerd, then the standout moment is the unerring riffs, the precision, the power. But the solo 2:22 mins in is worthy of repeat listens.

For fans of: The Black Dahlia Murder, Sylosis, Cannibal Corpse

The Black Angels – Without A Trace

What is it? The opening cut and third single from Wilderness of Mirrors, the first new album from the Austin psych-rock stalwarts in five years. Opening with drums straight out of When the Levee Breaks and eerie vocal cries, classic-rock aficionados will find plenty to love about this thundering mission statement.

Standout guitar moment: You can’t get a much better exhibition for the capabilities of the fuzz pedal than this song, but digging beneath the smoggy morass Christian Bland and Jake Garcia paint together reveals some really tasty bits of guitar-work, particularly the trippy lead break after the second verse.

For fans of: Led Zeppelin, 13th Floor Elevators, Dead Meadow

Jackson Maxwell

Amon Amarth – Find a Way or Make One

What is it? A crushing new track from everyone’s favorite Viking metallers, Amon Amarth, and one of the highlights from their new album, The Great Heathen Army. Besides a fat guitar tone – which makes itself apparent from the get go – Find a Way or Make One is shaped by a mid-tempo arrangement, with driving palm-muted verses and some uber-melodic chorus sections.

Standout guitar moment: Guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg offer up an outstanding serving of duelling lead guitar from the 3:03 mark, which perfectly illustrates the track's triumphant ethos. 

For fans of: Arch Enemy, Wintersun, Dimmu Borgir

Sam Roche 

Sodom – 1982

What is it? The German thrash veterans return with what is surely the standout new metal track of the week. 1982 is 100 per cent raw power, retro thrash, punk, nasty, with a sound that has been lifted many times before by black metal bands who have long glommed onto the unholy chord changes that have made Sodom one of the most influential bands in the metal underground. 

Standout guitar moment: It has to be the riff architecture of those opening guitars. There's no hyper-kinetic showboating, palm-muting is at at a minimum as the chords are allowed to bloom. There's a cool solo at 2:16, though, that demonstrates once more that with styles such as this attitude > technique.

For fans of: Destruction, Kreator, Slayer, Possessed

– Jonathan Horsley

Anna Mieke – For A Time

What is it? Any fan of folk-adjacent music should do themselves a favor and give this Irish singer/songwriter’s mesmerizing 2019 debut album, Idle Mind, a spin. For A Time, the second preview we’ve gotten of her forthcoming album, Theatre, is just as impressive, a lush, beautifully orchestrated composition that showcases her talents as an arranger and as a vocalist. 

Standout guitar moment: That rollin’ ’n’ tumblin’ acoustic riff serves as the song’s centerpiece, and the perfect backdrop to its dynamic rhythms and dramatic string arrangements.

For fans of: Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Julie Byrne

Jackson Maxwell

Walter Trout – Waiting for the Dawn

What is it? Well, it's Walter Trout, isn't it? Blues veteran, Mr. Consistent, coming in hot with a new single lit up by Delaney S-style signature guitar. As always, we are in safe hands with Trout. This smokey late-night blues jam is the perfect material for his judicious phrasing to come to the fore. The track is taken from his forthcoming album, Ride, which is out August 19 through Mascot Label Group.

Standout guitar moment: It has to be the solo, which is perfectly pitched, with just enough flash to show that Trout is playing within himself here, sticking to the story, expanding on the heartache as is a blues guitar solo's job.

For fans of: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Bonamassa, Joanne Shaw Taylor

– Jonathan Horsley

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.