Guitar Aficionado

Playlist: Kirk Hammett

In the July/August issue of Guitar Aficionado, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett takes us on guided tours...
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By Josh Hart

In the July/August issue of Guitar Aficionado (on stands now), Metallica guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Kirk Hammett takes us on guided tours of his idyllic Hawaiian estate and sumptuous Bay Area home. Here are five classic Hammett cuts that exemplify his versatile guitar playing.

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"Hero of the Day"
(Load, 1996)

One of the most mellow numbers in the Metallica catalog, "Hero of the Day" 's simple, melodic solo is often cited by Kirk as one of his favorites to play. Fun fact: the original demo for "Hero of the Day" was titled "Mouldy" because it reminded the band of the guitar tone of Hüsker Dü's Bob Mould.

"The Call of Ktulu"
(Ride The Lightning, 1984)

Of Metallica's early instrumentals, "The Call of Ktulu" probably stands as Kirk's finest moment. The nearly-nine-minute track guides listeners through a twisting, wordless narrative inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's famous monster. While the band spelled the name "Ktulu" instead of "Chtulu" (as the story goes, even writing his name brings the monster closer), Hammett's ripping solo seems to do everything it can to conjure the beast from the depths.

"Wherever I May Roam"
(Metallica, 1996)

The Black Album was a transitional period for both the band as a whole and Hammett as a guitarist. Hammett, who had previously been known as primarily a modal guitarist, found himself gravitating towards the tried-and-true pentatonic scales more and more. "Wherever I May Roam" offers a perfect snapshot of a pivotal period in Kirk's career as a guitarist (and, presumably, a sitarist.) It's also another solo he often cites as a favorite to play.

"Fade To Black"
(Ride The Lightning, 1984)

While "Fade To Black" 's intro led rhythm guitarist James Hetfield to realize how frustrating the acoustic guitar could be, Kirk Hammett couldn't have made the intro solo sound easier. Kirk has often expressed that he would like to go back and re-record some of his leads from the band's debut album, Kill 'Em All, and there's no mistaking that this song as a prime example of a new level of solo composition from the young guitarist. Fun fact: "Fade To Black" is, sequentially, the first Metallica song to feature a writing credit for Hammett.

(...And Justice For All, 1988)

While the machine-gun riffing at the end of this one proudly displays James Hetfield's rhythm chops, the end solo is undoubtedly one of Kirk's finest performances as a shred guitarist. The beginning tapping lick remains one of the most recognizable beginnings to a guitar solo in heavy metal.