10. Mike Lamb and
Chloe Bray – Sojourner
Mike and Chloe’s guitars on the fantastic new Sojourner album really left an impact on me. I loved the luxurious, dark tone of the riffs, heavy at just the right amount. I should also mention Mike’s new band Light Field Reverie and his nuanced, almost cyber sound on that album. All in all, these artists should be proud of their work.
9. Plini – solo
Obviously, Plini is one of the best players out there today. His latest solo album is every bit as technical and purposeful as I have come to expect from him. He is simply a joy to watch.
8. Mariusz Duda – Lunatic Soul
Mariusz keeps popping up on these lists. I was truly mesmerized by his acoustic playing on Lunatic Soul’s “Through Shaded Woods”. Mesmerized, as in the way I feel when I see Steve Hackett or Mike Oldfield strum their acoustics. With finesse and medieval energy, Mariusz hit all the right notes, and he did it with gusto.
7. Maciej Meller – solo
I’ve starting to see why Maciej was the choice to replace Piotr in Riverside. His new solo album offers some of the most expressive guitar solos I’ve heard in some time. Maciej is a master composer in his own right, and I’m excited to see what he does with my favorite band.
6. Johan Reinholdz and
Christopher Amott – Dark Tranquility
There is a spiraling poetry to Johan and Christopher’s guitars on the new Dark Tranquility album. With towering riffs and an overall sense of engagement, these newcomers to the band really left their mark.
5. Johan Ericson and
Daniel Arvidsson – Draconian
Johan and Daniel gave us some of the most patient guitars I’ve ever heard on Draconian’s new triumphant album. I loved their long-winded, looming riffs and subtle licks, as they gave themselves the space and meter to finish musical thoughts in utterly satisfying ways. The doom was heavy with them this time around, and I will love their work for many years to come, I am sure.
4. Yegor Savonin and
– Fires in the Distance
Yegor and Kristian’s performance on the new Fires in the Distance is as meaty and heavy as they come. The guitars felt unyielding and yet also spacious to me, with plenty of personality and character. The album is anything but just a riff-fest, but these two guitarists really brought the heft and tone I love.
3. Timo Somers – Delain
Timo’s guitars have been growing on me for years. So has Delain. On their latest record, Timo displays absolute fireworks with his performance. From monster riffs to the mind-blowing instrumental “Combustion”, he is proving himself to be a master.
2. Tore Østby – Conception
On the long-awaited new Conception album, Tore gave us some of the most unabashedly powerful riffs of the year. With satisfying breaks and inventive, stuttering attacks, his brutal onslaught is something that I’ve come to admire greatly. I went into the album expecting to focus on Roy Khan’s vocals, but left impressed chiefly by Tore’s performance.
**1. Nick Barrett – Pendragon**
What can I say? Nick is one of the greatest guitar players of all time, in my humble opinion. His technical prowess is matched completely by his soulful, immediately recognizable style. With “Love Over Fear”, I feel that he returned to the sound I so love from the late 90s and early 00s: the whimsy and emotion that he had taken a break from over the last couple albums. I have to admit that I was gushing from the very first note.