How recording The Unforgiven changed Kirk Hammett's approach to guitar solos forever

Kirk Hammett performing live with Metallica in 1992
(Image credit: Rob Verhorst/Redferns via Getty)

Metallica’s Black Album, on a macro level, represented a bold reinvention of the band’s sound, and saw them explore new sonic avenues while also staying true to their heavy metal roots. On a micro level, however, it was also the catalyst for a number of significant shake-ups for Kirk Hammett’s electric guitar playing.

Not only did it usher in the age of the wah pedal – a tool Hammett has said he employs strictly while recording rather than while writing guitar solos – it also saw the Metallica titan permanently tweak his approach to lead lines, thanks to a recording process that placed an unfamiliar emphasis on improvisation.

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Matt Owen
Senior Staff Writer,

Matt is a Senior Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.