Any teenage metal guitarist has already been exposed dozens of times to magazines exploring the theory behind Randy Rhoads' solo in “Crazy Train” and how awesome “Eruption” is … you know, the same stuff these magazines have been featuring for years (in some cases, decades). Yes, Guitar World, I am well aware that Dimebag Darrell's death was a fucked up tragedy, but is there really anything left to learn from tabbing the same Pantera songs that have been tabbed everywhere in the last seven years? If a teenage guitarist is interested in anything besides someone from the '70s who has a new album out, a band from the '90s that just reunited, or a dead guy, he/she is kinda shit outta luck.
But there's room for new voices to be heard. A youth movement is happening in heavy metal guitar, and a damn good one too. There are some amazing guitarists rising up through the heavy metal circles that are evolving the genre and technique of heavy metal guitar. No, kids, you don't need to have gray hair or be six feet under to be a killer guitarist. Put the mainstream guitar magazines down and search out The Top Five Metal Guitarists Under The Age of 30 on YouTube and learn yaself some knowledge from someone you actually identify with and relate to:
5. Michael Keene (The Faceless)
The Faceless have spent the past few years progressing into one of the leading lights of the “tech-death” movement. While their early work was more forgettable, Michael Keene's guitar work on their most recent album Planetary Duality has helped propel the band beyond being one of thousands of cookie-cutter cookie-monster death metal bands, and has allowed them to be heavy enough for the gore crowd, while offering musical depth that has made them stand out on tour bills that are stacked with like-minded bands.
4. Luke Hoskin (Protest The Hero)
Canadian quintet Protest The Hero have won over metal, hardcore, and punk rock audiences equally, blending elements of all of those genres into a tasty concoction that is musically flashy while also remaining very accessible and just plain fun. On their newest album Scurrilous, Luke Hoskin's leads are a very nice compliment to the over-the-top (in a good way) gravitas of vocalist Rody Walker, lending riffs to the proceedings that can be best defined as “glorious.”
3. Chris Letchford (Scale The Summit)
If you went to a prog-rock show ten years ago, there's a very strong chance there would not have been anyone under the age of 30 there. Thanks to bands like Scale The Summit though, progressive rock is becoming cool again with a younger crowd. Though it probably helps that the band are all in their mid-to-late 20s, Scale The Summit has an instrumental prog-metal sound that is updated for the current era, with equal emphasis on technicality, warmth, and compositions that sound like actual songs. Anchored by the guitar wizardry of Chris Letchford, Scale The Summit will give Los Angeles audiences a chance to watch them match the greatness of their 2011 album The Collective (and every time we've seen them live, they do) tomorrow night at the Key Club as part of the “Slaughter Survivors” tour with Conducting From The Grave, The Contortionist, and more.
2. Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders)
Seriously, do we really need to provide another explanation about why Tosin is awesome? The diverse crowd of M.I.-nerds and hardcore kids that comprised the crowd at the Key Club a couple of weeks ago for the Animals As Leaders gig certainly don't need one, and by now you shouldn't either.
And finally …
1. Colin Marston (Behold…The Arctopus/Krallice/eight thousand other bands)
One of the few guitarists in metal that has mastered the 12-string Warr Guitar, Colin Marston has gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the most prolific guitarists in the current heavy metal scene. In addition to his main outfit, experimental trio Behold…The Arctopus, Colin has also padded his resume with stints in American black metal stalwarts Krallice (with fellow lunatic guitarist Mick Barr of Orthrelm), death metal legends Gorguts, and avant-garde jazz-metal trio Dysrythmia. This versatility and ability to adapt has allowed him to continue to find new exciting places to take the art of heavy metal guitar.