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From pit-starting drop B chug to intricate jazz tapestries: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Jim Root performs with Slipknot at the 52nd Festival D'été Quebec (FEQ2019) on the Bell Stage at the Plains of Abraham in The Battlefields Park on July 8, 2019 in Quebec City, Canada
(Image credit: Ollie Millington/Redferns)

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.

Slipknot – The Dying Song (Time to Sing)

What is it? The crushing second single from the Iowa metal titans’ just-announced seventh album, the ominously titled The End, So Far. The Dying Song (Time to Sing) is quintessential Slipknot, with high-tempo, high-energy verses driven by a pounding percussion section and tried-and-tested drop B chugging from Jim Root and Mick Thomson, while an expectedly catchy chorus highlights a band well in their songwriting prime, over 20 years after the release of their genre-defining self-titled debut.

Standout guitar moment: While the band’s previous album We Are Not Your Kind was notably devoid of lead guitar, The Dying Song (Time to Sing) finds Root dabbling once again in the high registers, with a pair of uneasy-sounding arpeggios placed at 1:23 and 2:29 in the video above.

For fans of: Machine Head, Trivium

Sam Roche

Muse – Kill Or Be Killed 

What is it? Through three singles, Muse have hinted that their upcoming studio album, Will of the People, could quite possibly be their heaviest offering yet. Now, thanks to new track and fourth single Kill Or Be Killed, that prospect looks like it will definitely become a reality when the album arrives on August 26. The record’s latest single is Muse at their brutal best, rammed with raging palm-muted chugs, pummeling lower-fret riffs and a stomping six-string throwdown.

Standout guitar moment: There’s a seriously heavy breakdown at the 2:58 mark, which is followed by what is arguably Matt Bellamy’s most technically dazzling guitar solo to date. Through a selection of surgically precise notes and rapid-fire runs, the Muse frontman effortlessly slices his way through the track’s chord progression, before returning to the main hook.

For fans of: Royal Blood, Biffy Clyro, Incubus

– Matt Owen

A Day to Remember – Miracle

What is it? A Day to Remember have deviated somewhat in recent times from the metal-infused pop-punk sound with which they made their name. But with their brand-new single, Miracle, the Ocala, Florida four-piece return to a heavier sound, complete with perhaps one of their strongest breakdowns to date.

Standout guitar moment: The track’s main riff hits like a thousand-ton freight train, and will no doubt get the heads of many ADTR purists bobbing.

For fans of: We Came As Romans, Of Mice & Men, Memphis May Fire

Sam Roche

Ozzy Osbourne – Degradation Rules (feat. Tony Iommi)

What is it? The second single from Ozzy Osbourne’s highly anticipated 13th solo album, Patient Number 9. For this one, the Prince of Darkness has recruited his former Black Sabbath bandmate Tony Iommi, as a consequence creating what’s likely to be one of the most Sabbathian cuts on the forthcoming record.

Standout guitar moment: While the track’s powerchord-driven opening riff is beautiful in its simplicity, the wah-flavored solo from the 2:46 mark is pure rock and roll, crafted with a series of rapid hammer-ons and pull-offs and attitude-y pentatonic bends.

For fans of: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest

Sam Roche

Titus Andronicus – (I'm) Screwed

What is it? Glen Rock, New Jersey’s finest rockers are back with a fist-pumping return to their roots (literally, the song’s video was filmed on a flatbed truck in their hometown.) The lead single from The Will to Live, the quartet’s forthcoming seventh full-length effort, finds our nameless protagonist in a tight spot, with, frontman Patrick Stickles says, “pressure building on all sides” – familiar but always fertile ground for this band.

Standout guitar moment: Stickles’ triumphant, storm-the-castle solos always get the blood pumping, and the one that kicks down the door of (I'm) Screwed is certainly no slouch, but the real power of this band lies in their long-running two-guitar attack (Stickles and Liam Betson.) When they go full Glenn Tipton/K.K. Downing at 2:12, you can’t help but smile.

For fans of: The Clash, The Hold Steady, Bruce Springsteen 

Jackson Maxwell

Sam Fender – Alright 

What is it? A surprise new single from indie rock world beater Sam Fender, who dropped Alright after it failed to make the cut on his second studio album, Seventeen Going Under, which arrived last year. Now, a surplus studio mix is usually the sign of a slightly weaker song, but that isn’t the case with Alright. It’s up there with the best of the rest of the album, full of luscious leads and infectious guitar hooks, not to mention Fender’s usual vocal and lyrical brilliance.

Standout guitar moment: Fender seems to be a fully fueled lick machine at the moment, and Alright’s simple-yet-effective intro melody is as good as it gets – the tone is on point, the delivery is elite.

For fans of: Bruce Springsteen, The War on Drugs Wolf Alice

– Matt Owen

Chat Pile – Wicked Puppet Dance

What is it? Chat Pile’s debut, God’s Country, is quite possibly the most anticipated and most talked about album in the underground right now. The Oklahoma noise-rockers have got it. Whatever it is, that canny knack of unsettling the audience, for revealing a savage truth (as on the plaintive industrial downtuned grind of Why), they have got it. Wicked Puppet Dance leans into the electric guitar’s capacity for noise and atonality, agitation you can just about put on tablature but it wouldn’t do it justice.

Standout guitar moment: It’s the vibe, the texture, the whiff of cordite in the air that makes this special, but also how the guitar sinks into a concrete industrial riff halfway through. As though the band are like, “We’re done here.” Thereafter, it just evaporates, like the background noise in Eraserhead.

For fans of: Godflesh, The Jesus Lizard, Unsane

– Jonathan Horsley

Makaya McCraven – Dream Another

What is it? The second single from the Chicago jazz A-lister’s forthcoming effort, In These Times. McCraven’s genius as both an arranger and a drummer are on full display on this song, a masterpiece that’ll lend itself very well to listless summer afternoons and evenings.

Standout guitar moment: An initial spin of Dream Another might leave you with the impression that De’Sean Jones (on flute) and Brandee Younger (harp) are having all of the fun over the song’s hypnotic beat. Listen closer though, and you’ll hear how magnificently guitarist Matt Gold weaves himself in and out of the song’s gorgeous melody, and the tapestry of the orchestra around him. Sublime stuff.

For fans of: J Dilla, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green

Jackson Maxwell

Sumerlands – Dreamkiller 

What is it? What with all these cultural archeologists digging around in the ‘80s metal scene for viral moments, there’s no time like the present for Sumerlands. This is burnished steel of the highest order, a band deserving of a wider audience but wholly in tune with underground mores.

The Philadelphia-based traditionalists walk that fine line between old-school Manilla Road theatricality, the sort of sound that’s mother’s milk to those with a Cirith Ungol patch on their battle-vest, and the OTT theatricality of the European power metallers. But my, they are sure-footed as they do. We’d expect nothing less of any band with Arthur Rizk and John Powers on guitar.

Standout guitar moment: It’s all magnificent. Can we first take a moment to appreciate the VHS (or is it Betamax?) production quality on the promo clip? That’s something. But that first lead break from Rizk let’s you know you are in good hands, players who can write this style and it isn’t pastiche because it’s just their lives. It’s who they are.

For fans of: Manilla Road, Eternal Champion, Pagan Altar

– Jonathan Horsley

Alexander 23 – If We Were a Party

What is it? Earlier this year, Alexander 23 – aka Alexander Glantz – supported John Mayer on his Sob Rock tour, and now Mayer’s appreciation of the indie pop phenom has been made all the more clear following the release of his debut album, Aftershock. If We Were a Party is a standout from the collection, demonstrating Glantz’s grasp on composition, arrangement and his ability to write knock-out guitar parts.

Standout guitar moment: It’s got to be that ultra-infectious intro melody, which is introduced early on before proceeding to carry the track’s entire instrumentation on its back.

For fans of: John Mayer, The 1975, Dayglow

– Matt Owen

Karl Sanders – The Evil Inherent In Us All

What is it? Karl Sanders from technical death metal stalwarts Nile returns with his first solo album in 13 years, Saurian Apocalypse, and it is a doozy. It is largely acoustic. The only electric used was his Dean seven-string. 

But these arrangements, inspired by Middle Eastern compositions, artists such as bağlama virtuoso Orhan Genceba and Palestinian oud trio Le Trio Joubran, and Sanders’ are exhilarating, meditative, hypnotic and confirmation – if needed – that Sanders remains one of the most imaginative players in extreme metal.

Standout guitar moment: Having shred kingpin Rusty Cooley lay down some guest acoustic guitar on this is just beyond cool. Indeed, the acoustic riffs in this have a groove that challenges the perception that Sanders’ solo work is simply ambient. There are too many foregrounded details that pull you in to world that feels very much part of a shared universe with Nile’s. Albeit without the extremity.

For fans of: Nile, Orhan Genceba, Mdou Moctar, Hans Zimmer

– Jonathan Horsley

  • Nile’s Karl Sanders: “If you took all the guitars out of Saurian Apocalypse, it would be an ambient/meditative record. But I like playing guitar, so there’s guitars”

Blondshell – Kiss City

What is it? The second single from Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Sabrina Teitelbaum’s Blondshell project, Kiss City is star-gazing maximalist pop of the highest order, a brief tune that nonetheless will sweep you off your feet.

Standout guitar moment: The ascending sixteenth-note run at 1:24 that keys you into the song’s imminent cathartic explosion.

For fans of: M83, Phoenix, U.S. Girls

Jackson Maxwell

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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.