The Six-String Titans of the Twenty First Century: Best Modern Guitarists List
Tue, 10 Jan 2012 13:12:25
Is your New Year's Resolution to wail on guitar so as to frighten the gods and scorch the earth? Of course not—you just wanted to lose a little weight and finally read The Secret. Why? Because there is already a litany of modern guitar virtuosos who can shred songs like cheese on a taco. Let's leave it to the pros, shall we?
Here is a look at the modern titans of guitar. Hide your wife! Hide your kids!
[Editor's Note: We're focusing on guys whose output in the 21st century has been extremely stellar in our humble opinion...this excludes those obvious legends, Jimmy Page,Pete Townsend, George Harrison,Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, etc. on and on who were so rooted in the 20th century...]
Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook, Five Finger Death Punch — American Capitalist
"Zoltan, open the sky!" Frontman Ivan Moody said it better than anyone could on their debut album, The Way of the Fist. Indeed, Zoltan Bathory and his unholy cohort, Jason Hook, have crafted an album that blends groove, melody, and all that is right with rock music in their latest offering American Capitalist. It's no wonder that these guys have claimed their spot atop the heavy metal food chain.
James "Munky" Shaffer, Korn — The Path of Totality, Fear and the Nervous System
On their latest album, Korn paired with a series of electro and dubstep DJ's such as Skrillex, 12th Planet, Excision, and many more. The result is invigorating and electrifying—and Munky finds a way to make his classically distorted, dystopian riffs work seamlessly alongside a dubstep symphony. It shows true talent, as Korn reinvent themselves and rock music yet again. Munky also recently released his pummelingly progressive side project Fear and the Nervous System's debut album, which you should definitely check out
Jim Root and Mick Thomson, Slipknot — All Hope Is Gone
Slipknot are one of the most inventive metal bands ever. Specifically, they have redefined the role of percussion in heavy music, with a cavalcade of drummers and percussionists on stage. That said, their riffs and guitar licks perfectly compliment and lead the vitriolic parade. Jim Root and Mick Thomson serve as the perfect conductors.
Gary Clark, Jr. — The Bright Lights EP
Gary Clark might be the next big blues sensation. Packed with soul, fuzz, some scales and the truth, Clark Jr. knows how to wail in a delightful and completely organic way. When he plays, he makes you want to squint in approval and sip a bourbon, neat.
Don't look now, but Jack White just started ANOTHER band since you've been reading this article! Just kidding. Although it is pretty incredible to think that the man has been behind The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather and more. He's a name that changed rock music in the early 2000's, and there's a good reason for it.
Ben Bruce and Cameron Liddell, Asking Alexandria — Reckless & Relentless
Our buddies Ben and Cameron pulverize, then add soaring riffs for their choruses, rinse and repeat. It's a cycle at works quite nicely.
Mark Tremonti, Creed, Alter Bridge — AB III They always say the mark of a great entertainer is one who is polarizing. Love them or hate them, there's no denying that Creed and Alter Bridge know their way around a melody like very few can. That riff and solo ship is expertly steered by 21st century shred-master Mark Tremonti.
Slash — Slash
'Nuff said. If you don't know Slash, you must be an alien. In which case, welcome to Earth! We must immediately take you to our leader and update you on the NFL Playoffs and various goings-on with the Kardashians.
DJ Ashba, Richard Fortus, Bumblefoot — Guns N' Roses, Chinese Democracy
DJ, Richard, and Bumblefoot keep the dream alive by nailing the classic tunes by GnR live and innovative Chinese Democracy numbers.
Dave Navarro, Jane's Addiction —The Great Escape Artist
Navarro is a guitar and L.A. legend—a true pioneer for the sound of Alternative, and the 90's decade that claimed the same vibe. Jane's fourth album (isn't that crazy?), The Great Escape Artist, is a true work of art. Ethereal, dark, moody, and all together beautiful, Navarro know how to make a riff echo and howl like it's a twisted full moon.
Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins — Teargarden by Kaleidyscope
Corgan is another guitar great, and certainly not in the traditional sense of the word. Smashing Pumpkins had their share of hot licks, but their bread and butter has been their unique guitar sound—like Alice in Wonderland at an Alice Cooper show.
Willie Adler and Mark Morton, Lamb of God — Resolution
Wait, someone actually DID resolve to splay hot licks on guitar after all! These kings of the metal scene are sure to enthrall with their newest offering to come this year.
Synyster Gates, Zacky Vengeance, Avenged Sevenfold —Nightmare
You've heard of a "rock opera"? Well, over the years, A7X have evolved into somewhat of a glorious heavy metal opera. It's almost Guns N' Roses meets The Nightmare Before Christmas, isn't it? And hey- we're not here to complain. Love them both! Here's to Avenged and their incredible musical ambitions.
Mike Mushok, Staind — Staind
Mike Mushok infuses airtight shredding into detuned guttural grooves on Staind's self-titled masterpiece. He oscillates between unnerving, unique rhythms and gut-wrenchingly catchy solos. Walking his own path, Mushok continually blurs the line seamlessly between mainstream and metal.
Adam Jones, Tool — 10,000 Days
The polyrhythmic metallic majesty of Tool's most recent outing, 10,000 Days, still infects our psyches. The riffs barely ever repeat and the guitar becomes its own orchestra of effects and intricate soundscapes. The man pulling those strings is Adam Jones, and he makes the most magically terrifying and soothing music every time he enters the studio. That said, we can't wait for the new album…
James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, Metallica — Beyond Magnetic EP
Heavy metal wouldn't be what it is today without these two gods of the axe. Even with numerous classic albums in the pantheon, they're still unleashing classic music. You'll immediately get pulled into their epic new EP, Beyond Magnetic. However, it's simply a prelude of the next full-length masterpiece to come…
There we are. Quite a handsome list, are they not? Now somebody grab their guitar and lead us in a rousing version of "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"!
Who is your favorite modern guitarist?
See Munky of Korn discuss "Narcissistic Cannibal" here!
Spend a day with Five Finger Death Punch here!
See our exclusive interview with Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria here!
See Slash and more talk Metallica's influence here!
See our recent review of Guns N' Roses here!