10. Juha Raivio and Juho Räihä
– Swallow the Sun
Swallow the Sun has such a darkened and doomy sound, and that is due to the guitar work by these two musicians. I loved how shadowy and yet emotional their work was: technical, yet focused more on practical effect. One thing I especially noted was how satisfying every riff and every guitar lick felt. Their work on the latest album was truly artistic.
9. Kacper Zieliński and Lubomir Kusiak
Now, these two really brought the energy for us. Highly technical work, yes, but it was the raw, unfettered power that made me fall in love with the guitar work on Deresolution’s latest. There is something wild and untamed about it—even about the entire album.
8. Raúl Lupiañez – Somewhereout
Raúl outdid himself on Somewhereout’s new album. From gentle strumming to humongous riffs, he laid down some guitars that truly made the album feel whole. And you can tell from his playing that he tirelessly and passionately worked each and every section. I definitely noticed.
7. Yoann Estingoy – Grorr
If you’ve heard the new Grorr album, I don’t really need to explain this. Vicious and bulky riffs abound, leading to a riveting and unrelenting barrage of amazing guitar work. It truly is an onslaught that Yoann gives us, but it is balanced out by the rest of the band masterfully.
6. Tamás Kátai – Thy Catafalque
Tamás might be one of the most interesting guitarists on this list. The new Thy Catafalque album is quirky and angular, and you’ll hear lots of unconventional riffs and guitar portions. Yet, you’ll also hear monstrous riffs that would make any metal fan proud. I love the range and character he brings to the guitar.
5. Anton Belov – Kauan
Anton is a different sort of guitarist than most rock and metal musicians. Though he does lay down some meaty riffs and distorted walls of sound, the effect is mostly subtle and hazy, not in-your-face. I loved that about the new Kauan album, how Anton was often more in the background of everything, even though he still provided the ambient structure for the entire album. His work is a pleasure to hear.
4. Graham Keane
– The Vicious Head Society
Grahame is essentially a classic progressive metal guitarist. He takes influence from the greats, so to speak. But he takes it to the next level so often, and he performs gutsy moves in how he composes. And he also knows how to let other instruments speak more loudly than his guitars, so he is an all-around fantastic lead and also support to the music.
3. Tom S. Englund and Henrik Danhage
What can I say? Evergrey is my favorite metal band, and Tom and Henrik’s guitars are a big reason for that. They still make some of the most thrilling licks around, and the heftiest of riffs, too. The new album had some of the heaviest and downright coolest guitars they’ve ever produced, as well.
2. Alexander Sidelin – Existentia
As I was making this list, I kept moving Alexander higher and higher. There’s just something alluring about how dark and richly composed his guitar work on Existentia’s debut is. I found that his contributions towards the instrumentals were particularly strong and memorable.
1. Jasun Tipton – A Dying Planet
Jasun is a legend in his own right, but it had been a while since I’d heard his unmistakable and chaotic style of playing. I have to admit that it took some time for me to appreciate back in the day, but now I fully love the way he does things, and A Dying Planet was a perfect place to showcase how structured and yet uncontained his guitars can be.