Mexican acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela have shared their cover of Metallica's The Struggle Within, taken from the metal giants' forthcoming Metallica Blacklist compilation album.
Despite rearranging the track entirely for acoustic guitar, the pair – Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero – stay remarkably true to the original, trading its military-style intro snare rolls for expertly delivered percussive slaps and James Hetfield's vocals for smooth, oft-slide-driven unplugged leads.
Sánchez even replicates Kirk Hammett's guitar solo note-for-note on acoustic guitar. In the November issue of Guitar World – which revisits Metallica's Black Album in depth – the guitarist explains that the solo was not complicated for him to transcribe.
“Coming from the metal world we know how important solos are for the fans,” he says. “So I knew I was going to do that. And I started out playing thrash-metal tunes on guitar, and I spent my first 15 years as a musician playing metal. So I have all these techniques quite settled in my bones. Also, I've known this song from forever.”
He also details the process of reinventing The Struggle Within – a song driven by electric guitar – for acoustic.
“We had an idea of how we wanted to do this one because of our experiences through the years of playing some of these metal anthems with acoustics.” he explains.
“For example, using a slide on the vocal lines, which detunes the notes similar to what you find in the normal voice. And Gab's guitar, she has a massive sound, like a kick drum.”
Of Metallica's lasting influence on his playing, Sánchez explains: “I play guitar because of them. When I was 10, Kill 'Em All came out, and my older brother introduced me to them. The first riff I played on guitar was Seek & Destroy. Metallica is the reason I became a musician.”
Many tracks have been released from the Metallica Blacklist thus far, with highlights including St. Vincent's industrial reworking of Sad But True, Weezer's mostly faithful take on Enter Sandman and J Balvin's hip-hop reimagining of Wherever I May Roam.
“The Metallica Blacklist offers up new dimensions of the record whose gravitational pull first drew the mainstream to Metallica – and provides new insights into the universal and timeless appeal that kept it there: the boundary-smashing influence these 12 songs have had on fans and musicians of all stripes,” Metallica say.
Profits from the album will be divided evenly between Metallica's All Within My Hands foundation, and over 50 charities chosen by artists who appear on the record.
- The Metallica Blacklist (opens in new tab) – which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Black Album – arrives September 10 via Blackened Recordings.