METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett will release his debut solo EP, “Portals”, on April 23 via Blackened Recordings. Speaking to The Mercury News about what it feels like to be stepping out on his own for the first time in his career, Hammett said: “Usually when there is an album release — it’s the four of us [in METALLICA]. We all have each other’s backs. We are all supporting each other, because it’s kind of a nerve-wracking sort of emotional and mental thing. Usually, during this time, we have each other to talk to about any sort of insecurities or whatnot. But now that I have put out a solo album, I am the guy who bears the whole burden of all that. I said to James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman], ‘This is weird. I have an album release and usually I have you three other guys. But it’s just me and it makes me feel insecure and nervous.’ And James only had one reply: ‘This is a growth and learning experience for you, bro.’ And I go, ‘Thank you for saying that because I didn’t see it like that.'”
Produced by Kirk, “Portals” is comprised of the songs “Maiden And The Monster” and “The Jinn” on side A, followed by “High Plains Drifter” and “The Incantation” on side B. The latter two were co-written with Edwin Outwater, with whom Kirk had previously collaborated on METALLICA‘s “S&M²” concerts and releases. Outwater also contributed keyboards and led the orchestral players from the LA Philharmonic on “Portals”.
Regarding the musical direction of “Portals”, Hammett told The Mercury News: “I made a very conscious to have this music stand alone. [‘Portals’]) doesn’t sound like METALLICA. It really doesn’t. I should say, okay, I thought 95 percent of it does not sound like METALLICA. Just by proxy of who I am, as a member of METALLICA, some of it is going to be reminiscent of that. But that’s the five percent that is kind of instinctual — it’s kind of like bred into me. It was important to have a different vibe and a different approach.”
“With this music, the vocabulary is wide open. There’s a huge classical influence. There’s also a flamenco influence. There’s a little jazziness here and there. There are chords in this music that I would never think about using in METALLICA.
“[‘Portals’] breaks down the doors. I’m way into classical. I’m way into jazz, bossa nova, blues. I love old country.
“The sky is the limit at this point. And it’s a pretty beautiful thing.”
Other familiar names amongst the “Portals” players include drummer Abraham Laboriel, Greg Fidelman on bass, Emmy-winning arranger Blake Neely and Bob Rock.
Hammett previously stated about how his debut solo effort came about: “Initially, before I even had the idea for a solo EP, I was inspired by the need to create some sort of soundtrack music to accompany The Kirk Hammett Collection for the first ‘It’s Alive’ exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, 2017. I wanted to conceive music to play on a loop in the background as people walked through the exhibit. I sat down one night with a progression, and before I knew it, all the parts were there for ‘Maiden And The Monster’.
“The initial concept for ‘Portals’ started with that one song. Following that, I realized I could create different soundtrack moments. These songs are what I call ‘audio cinematic’; I’m creating sounds and pieces of music for the movies playing in my head. Hopefully they’ll create movies in other people’s heads in a similar fashion.”
“Portals” will be available to order on the Met Store and the Probity U.K. shop on Saturday, April 23.