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Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Soundtracks a Six-String Shootout on New Song ‘High Plains Drifter’

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett does some vintage guitar slinging on his new solo song, “High Plains Drifter.” 

Borrowing its title from the 1973 Clint Eastwood-starring Western of the same name, “High Plains Drifter” begins with the lonesome pluck of a guitar then expands with horns, strings, piano, and marching drums. Halfway through, Hammett injects a bit of heavy metal into the proceedings, amping up the song’s energy and delivering some characteristically dazzling guitar work. 

In a statement, Hammett said he didn’t set-out to write a song that matched High Plains Drifter the movie, though once he’d finished it, he realized it “conveyed the same sentiment as the film, so the piece was christened accordingly.” 

He continued: “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.” 

“High Plains Drifter” is the first song from Hammett’s first solo release, Portals, a four-track EP that will arrive April 23 (it’ll be available digitally and on CD, as well as a special “ocean blue” vinyl pressing for Record Store Day). Hammett previously said of the project, “This music was created with what I describe as an ‘audio-cinematic’ approach. They’re soundtracks to the movies in your mind.”

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