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Kirk Hammett demonstrates the full breadth of his six-string skills on cinematic new song, High Plains Drifter

Kirk Hammett performs with Metallica at Granåsen on July 13, 2019 in Trondheim, Norway
(Image credit: Per Ole Hagen/Redferns)

Back in February, Metallica electric guitar hero Kirk Hammett announced his first-ever solo release, an EP called Portals.

Hammett saw the EP as an opportunity to create "soundtracks to the movies in your mind," and with its brand-new first single – the incredibly cinematic High Plains Drifter – it seems like the guitar legend is set to make good on his word.

Make no mistake, High Plains Drifter is no Metallica throwaway. It's centered around a beautiful flamenco classical guitar riff, and features lush, beautifully realized orchestral arrangements. The Spaghetti Western-influenced tune is not entirely an acoustic detour though – Hammett gets some prime frenzied electric chugging in as the song picks up steam, and tops the whole thing off with a truly epic, acrobatic solo.

Though inspired by the classic 1973 Western of the same name, High Plains Drifter, Hammett says, "was not meant to be specifically music for that film, 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," he continued, "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." 

Produced by Hammett himself, Portals is set for release on April 23. It features arrangements and keyboard work from Edwin Outwater (who also co-wrote High Plains Drifter), Greg Fidelman, Bob Rock, and drummers Jon Theodore and Abe Laboriel Jr.

You can check out the EP's cover art and track list below.

To preorder Portals, visit Metallica's website.

The cover of Kirk Hammett's forthcoming EP, Portals

(Image credit: Kirk Hammett)

Kirk Hammett – Portals:

1. Maiden and the Monster
2. The Jinn
3. High Plains Drifter
4. The Incantation

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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.