The 10 best prog guitarists in the world right now
Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief)
The Total Guitar Best in guitars 2016 polls have received over 68,000 votes, and we're now ready to roll out the winners. The nominees were what we considered to be the guitarists and guitar gear that have excelled in 2016. Here, we present the best prog guitarist of 2016. First up we have Bruce Soord of The Pineapple Thief...
It's been 17 years since Bruce Soord first started The Pineapple Thief and, 11 albums later, the band is still going strong, with Bruce fast becoming an unsung hero of the prog guitar world.
On 2016's Your Wilderness, Bruce and co. headed in a softer, more indie direction than earlier material, but that made it no less exciting. And guest spots from Porcupine Tree's Gavin Harrison, John Helliwell of Supertramp, Caravan's Geoffrey Richardson show just what a draw Soord's music is to the wider music world.
Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
Thom Yorke and co. have been heading towards proggy-er territory for some time now and really hit the motherload on A Moon Shaped Pool, which remained a big secret until its abrupt release on 8 May 2016.
Between Greenwood, O'Brien and Yorke, the guitar trio experimented wildly with guitar sounds and Greenwood even stretched his musical chops into vocal and string arrangements. The result is a brooding, ethereal and intelligent album that was released to wide acclaim.
Hailed as "the future of exceptional guitar playing" by none other than Mr Steve Vai, this Aussie whizz puts his signature Strandberg Boden OS 6 and Fractal Axe-Fx to stunning, mind-meltingly good use.
Debut album Handmade Cities set fusion-keen guitarists' minds ablaze this year, and a touring slot with Animals As Leaders has further accelerated this shining light's unstoppable rise.
Steven Wilson (solo/Porcupine Tree)
Wilson's solo career is going so well that Porcupine Tree - the band he founded in 1987 - is almost becoming a distant memory. Almost.
In 2016, not only did Wilson tour the globe with his crack band of musicians, but he also released the 4 1/2 EP, which is six tracks and 36 minutes of pure poppy prog brilliance.
Misha Mansoor, Mark Holcomb, Jake Bowen (Periphery)
The Washington prog metallers keep going from strength to strength, thanks in no small part to the triple guitar assault of Misha Mansoor, Mark Holcomb and Jake Bowen.
The band's fifth studio album, Periphery III: Select Difficulty, was released in July 2016 and features everything we've grown to love about the band: hard grooves, lush instrumentation and razor sharp riffage from three of the most cutting edge guitarists of the 21st century.
Mike Sullivan (Russian Circles)
Despite their relative underground status, we've always been big fans of instrumental prog trio Russian Circles and the playing of Mike Sullivan here at MusicRadar.
The band's sixth album Guidance, released in August, covers everything from crushing metal on Vorel, to the delicate hymn of Overboard and the anthemic Afrika, and production by Converge's Kurt Ballou gives it just the weight it needs.
Tosin Abasi, Javier Reyes (Animals As Leaders)
Four albums into their career and the Washington prog metallers are really starting to explore new territory. On The Madness Of Many there's less in the way of Meshuggah-style heaviness and more experimentation with sounds, textures and space.
Musical masterminds Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes have done more than most in pushing the boundaries of what's possible with a guitar, and we're excited to see what they cook up next.
Mikael kerfeldt, Fredrik kesson (Opeth)
Last year these boys came ninth in our best prog guitarist category, so they're clearly doing something right to move up to number three this year. That probably has something to do with the fact the band has just celebrated its 25th year and released astonishing twelfth studio album Sorceress.
Sorceress sees the band going full prog after many years skirting round the fringes, but with enough heft to keep older fans more than happy. The production on the album is lush, too.
John Petrucci (Dream Theater)
Dream Theater returned to the concept album, er, concept on 2016's The Astonishing. The idea was teased from the colourful mind of Petrucci himself (he also produced) and tells the story of a dystopian future way off in 2285.
As is to be expected, the music is dense and complex, but equally uplifting and epic. Petrucci's playing is without question, as is the scale of his fantastical ideas.
Winner: Devin Townsend (Devin Townsend Project)
Devin released his seventh album under the Devin Townsend Project name in 2016. Transcendence was the first DTP album on which Devin buddied up on production, collaborating with Periphery's studio whizzkid Adam 'Nolly' Getgood. The result is some of Devin's best sounding work yet.
Although the guitar maestro is best known for playing at the extreme end of the spectrum, on Transcendence he also proves he's amazingly adept at hard rock and even pop, and input from other DTP band members has clearly added some new dimensions to Devin's music and made him sound better than ever.