Holy Crap, Kirk Hammett’s First-Ever Solo Song Sounds Like “Classical Gas” for Samurai Cowboys
We’re not gonna lie, when we heard that Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett would be releasing a solo album, our initial thought was, Ho boy. No offense to Kirk — honestly, he might be my favorite Metallica member, if only for his love of horror movies — but often, when major musicians in huge bands release solo albums, it feels more like an exercise than an expression, if you get my drift. But Kirk just released his first-ever solo single, “High Plains Drifter,” and hot damn, it’s epic and awesome!
As you’ll hear below, Kirk’s promise that this album would be incredibly cinematic is definitely kept on “High Plains Drifter.” The majority of the track feels like a shout-out to late spaghetti western legend Ennio Morricone, using orchestral atmospherics and steely acoustics to get across a sense of far-reaching earnestness (the song, of course, shares its name with a 1973 Clint Eastwood-directed cowboy movie). But then, the whole thing builds into a chuggy, thundering soundtrack to a cross-Montana horseback ride with a sword in your hand. It’s fucking huge, and acts as a beautiful testament to both Hammett’s musical background and his love of film.
Also appearing on the song are Edwin Outwater (with whom Kirk had previously collaborated on Metallica’s S&M2 concerts and releases), Jon Theodore of Queens of the Stone Age (not to mention Kirk’s Wedding Band), and members of the LA Philharmonic.
According to Hammett, the song…
“was not meant to be specifically music for [the film High Plains Drifter], but it was once it was written, I immediately thought it conveyed the same sentiment as the film, so the piece was christened accordingly. The music for ‘High Plains Drifter’ initially came from a Flamenco piece I had written. It was a two-and-a-half-minute piece, and I really liked it, but it was one of those riffs that would be hard to integrate into Metallica. I knew I wanted to do something with it, even though it came out spontaneously. I had been sitting outside messing around with a Flamenco acoustic guitar I’d just bought, and it flowed out in the moment. I was determined it would have a life. It would have its moment.”
Check out “High Plains Drifter” below. Kirk Hammett’s solo EP Portals will drop April 23rd.