Psychedelic rock progressed through the late 20th century as the skills of musicians and the use of electronic effects allowed for distorted guitars, trippy delays and an all new set of tones to excite the minds of drug-addled crowds. As the rhythm guitar took a back seat the lead guitarist in many bands took the spotlight as soloists began to steal the show with sounds, melodies and speeds that people just hadn’t heard before. As rock gave way to metal those who grew up with acts like Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa became the new generation of mind-melting guitarists who continued what the psychedelic movement began and improved on it. Here are some of today’s greatest acts who use the guitar to create incredible sounds that the crowds of Woodstock would have gone wild for.
Having plucked the strings for huge acts like Marylin Manson, Lynyrd Skynyrd and White Zombie John 5 is no stranger to thee big stage. A master of guitar and indeed many stringed instruments as his frequent lean into bluegrass will show you, showing that he can do more than pay fan service to the metal crowd. This however he does well as pounding drums back his burning guitar solos that are rapid, lengthy and truly rousing. His playing has increased in its technicality as thee years have gone on with his 2019 release ‘Invasion’ showing off just what he can do with more infectious grooves, fun licks and incredible soloing.
With his odd appearance that sees him place a KFC bucket over his head accompanied by an emotionless white ‘robot mask’, you would think that this esteemed guitarist has lost it, and you would probably be right. For years this disguised deity of guitar has been providing music so varied and complex that many can’t believe the name is just a single person. If anyone has taken psychedelic to the new age it is Buckethead with his string work ranging from epic and captivating to straight up bizarre, but he can never be called anything other than a virtuoso.
Taking influence from many other genres, the artist known as Owane lays down sounds on guitar that are as chilled as they are impressive. By making fanciful grooves to jazz beats and piano this pioneer of genre bending guitar is on a streak that includes some absolutely incredible skill. From laid back vibes that you could almost mistake for lounge tracks until the guitar cuts in to progressive rock wonders that would make even some of the most renowned guitarists feel a little inferior.
Delivering their own uniquely crafted sound that mixes elements of math rock, hip hop and more into an intense guitar driven bundle, Polyphia have been delighting listeners one track after another. Keeping things entirely instrumental here really lets you appreciate just how awe-inspiring the guitars are here as their incredibly catchy rhythms and hum-worthy melodies settle into your brain in no time. If psychedelic began in the 60s what Polyphia do is certainly continuing the movement of mind-blowing guitars well into the future.