Best Guitarist of 2015 – 5th Annual Loudwire Music Awards
Let's celebrate the best axeman of 2015! This year we shook things up and included guitar duos and trios because a band is a full effort and when you take a look at the nominees you'll realize it would have been impossible to leave some of these names off the list.
Whether it was contributing to a stellar album or rocking live stages, these axemen shone brightly this year. It's time to vote for the Best Guitarist of 2015 in the 5th Annual Loudwire Music Awards! Voting runs until Dec. 1 at 8AM ET. Check out the nominees and cast your votes below!
Few duos put on a clinic like Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring. Constantly engaged in a friendly battle, each guitarist seems to try to outdo the other, but it only results in raising each other's game. The two weave in and out of the other's playing, fusing a symbiotic six-stringed relationship that is the core of Between the Buried and Me's dynamic songwriting.
Serving as the lone guitarist in a death metal band is no easy task, especially when you're as technical as Cattle Decapitation get. Josh Elmore has the ability to create moods, deliver fret-frenzied leads, and deal crushing riffs all while never making the band sound hollow. A true jack of all trades, Elmore proves he can shoulder the work of what typically takes two guitars.
Following Disturbed's hiatus, Dan Donegan helped the band come back just as powerful as ever. Without missing a step, the guitarist had a hand in propelling the band to No. 1 on the charts with their album 'Immortalized,' proving Disturbed were truly back. His rhythm heavy focus is the backbone of the band, freeing up David Draiman to deliver his anthemic phrasing.
Five Finger Death Punch's big sound is fueled by the guitar duo of Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook. They lay into powerful grooves together and break away with spotlight lead playing or clean-picked chords to help bring some atmosphere to their fist-raising tunes. These guys help put the "punch" in Death Punch.
When it comes to sonic devastation, Matt Pike is your man. Playing a unique custom 9-string guitar with a peculiar setup, Pike puts the “power” in power trio to say the very least. His playing in High on Fire once again dominates the stage on Luminiferous, churning out pummeling rhythms and utilizing intriguing chords to fill out the lone guitar spot.
It’s hard to pick just one Iron Maiden guitarist considering each musician’s contributions on The Book of Souls. The band explore all areas and utilize each guitar wonderfully, even playing single line leads with two rhythms feeding off each other behind it. Of course Janick Gers, Adrian Smith, and Dave Murray team up at moments for those lush triple harmonies that are distinctly Iron Maiden tried and true.
Periphery's Misha Mansoor helped define the djent genre a few years ago and has been an innovator since. While he can still show he's best in class when it comes to those polyrhythmic chugs, Jake Bowen and Mark Holcomb share the spotlight as they helped expand the songwriting on the band's double album, showcasing a diverse range of playing between the three of them.
Though Slash's album World on Fire was released in 2014, he spent a great deal of 2015 touring and bringing his iconic playing to the masses playing a mix of new tunes and classic Guns N' Roses material. One of rock's true guitar gods, Slash has a dazzling playing style that is often deceptive because he makes it feel like it's so easy (easy).
Slayer are still a dual threat in the guitar department with Exodus' Gary Holt replacing the late Jeff Hanneman. Holt's fearless playing coupled with Kerry King's dominant songwriting is a match made in Hell. Holt stays true to Slayer's style, but injects just enough of his own feel to not come across as merely an imitator.
Mark Tremonti walks a fine line between work and play, fusing pure thrash adrenaline with huge, sweeping choruses to create a sound that is not often heard in hard rock. He has a lot of edge to his playing, but the core remains in tact with prideful chord progressions interlaced with the faster moments. Tremonti's talents are fully showcased on his solo band's second effort, Cauterize.