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Hear St. Vincent take on Kirk Hammett’s solo in dark reimagining of Metallica’s Sad But True

St. Vincent and Kirk Hammett
(Image credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images / David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns)

Last week, Metallica announced The Metallica Blacklist, perhaps the most ambitious covers album ever assembled with an almighty 53 artists paying homage to the metal icons’ landmark 1991 self-titled effort, commonly known as The Black Album. We’ve already heard Miley Cyrus’s take on Nothing Else Matters, and now one of the record’s most intriguing pairings has broken cover, as St. Vincent tackles Sad But True.

Of course, Annie Clark being Annie Clark, this is no straight riffer. The 21st-century guitar hero’s take finds her dialing back the gain for a gritty, menacing tone that transforms the track into a Depeche Mode-meets-Nine Inch Nails industrial banger.

Clark is a huge Metallica fan, so it’s no surprise to hear that while the tone is far from the Mesa-fueled original, the playing is faithful to James Hetfield’s sledgehammer riffage.

Her voice on the instrument really shines as the guitar solo lands, however: first, Clark stomps on a glitchy fuzzbox for the song’s harmonized chromatic licks, before nailing Kirk Hammett’s bluesy leads – only the original’s Page-esque ascending pentatonic run doesn’t make the cut, as St. V launches into an altogether funkier harmonized passage that ties the whole lead into the track’s radical new direction.

The cover makes perfect sense given both artists have expressed affection for each other’s music over the years.

“The way she writes, some of her musical motifs are just so different from anything I would ever play,” Hammett told GW earlier this year.

“I find that so intriguing. And I love the fact that she understands totally what she’s doing and she understands the theory behind it. For me, that always adds another dimension of respectability – knowing that the person’s not just fucking winging it and all of a sudden stepping in something.”

Clark, meanwhile, told Rolling Stone that “Metallica became a part of my DNA in the years when I started listening to music. It’s just imprinted in me in a certain way.”

As well as St. Vincent’s rendition, British singer-songwriter du jour Sam Fender today revealed his own version of Sad But True, which adopts a piano-and-strings ballad approach.

The Metallica Blacklist, as well as a remastered version of the Black Album, arrive on September 10 via Blackened Recordings.

Profits from The Metallica Blacklist will be divided evenly between Metallica's All Within My Hands foundation and over 50 charities chosen by artists who appear on the record.

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Digital Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World, having spent nine storied years contributing to guitar journalism and a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). He has written and edited for MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, and makes prog-ish instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.