METALLICA's KIRK HAMMETT Defends His 'Lux Æterna' Guitar Solo, Says It's 'Appropriate For The Song'

April 11, 2023

In a brand new interview with U.K.'s Total Guitar magazine, METALLICA's Kirk Hammett dismissed the idea that his solo on "Lux Æterna" is bad because it isn't hard to play. "Yeah, my fucking friends down the street could probably play a better solo than 'Lux Æterna' — but what's the point?" he said. "For me, what's appropriate is playing for the song and playing in the moment."

Kirk's "Lux Æterna" solo was criticized by some as his "worst solo", while some YouTubers even performed their own "improved" versions. Hammett acknowledged that he saw some of the online hate, saying: "I was just laughing the whole time. I could string together like six or seven three-octave arpeggios in 16th notes, sit there every day and practice it and go, 'Hey, look what I can do!' but where am I gonna put it? That won't work in any METALLICA song. Arpeggios? Come on! In a guitar solo, mapped out like a lot of people do, four or five chords with a different arpeggio over each one? It sounds like an exercise. I don't want to listen to exercises and warm-ups every time I hear a song."

Hammett added: "The only guys out there who I think convincingly play arpeggios as a means of expression are Joe Satriani, Yngwie [Malmsteen] and Paul Gilbert."

Kirk went on to say that he soloing style has changed as METALLICA's music has evolved.

"I know my modes, Hungarian scales, symmetrical scales, I know all that shit. Is it appropriate? Maybe earlier in our time, but not now," he said. "What's more appropriate is coming up with melodies that are more like vocal melodies. And guess what? The best scale for mimicking vocal melodies is the pentatonic."

Hammett also pushed back against the suggestion that he does not appreciate technique, saying: "I love from-the-heart playing, and I've heard real technical playing that's from the heart. Allan Holdsworth, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Yngwie — they all play from the heart, but for a lot of guys it's just like sports or the Olympics. Music is to reflect beauty, creativity, feeling, life. There is a place and there's an audience for all that stuff, but I feel there comes a time when people just get tired of that.

"Today, you know, people are doing really interesting stuff with technique," Hammett concluded. "Technique is reaching new boundaries and I love that, but I have to stress it's important to play for the song. If you do that, your music will have that much more integrity and lasting power."

Back in 2010, WINGER/WHITESNAKE guitarist Reb Beach told the "Decades Of Distortion" radio show about Hammett's guitar playing: "I don't know the guy [Kirk], but I think he's one of the worst guitar players I've ever heard in my life. I've never heard a solo from that guy that was any good. . . This guy is out of tune, and his vibration... what is it? Vibrato. Oh my god. It sounds like a beginner."

He continued, "Back in the '80s, he was always voted best guitar player, and I'm like, 'What?! That guy is terrible.' I hate to say that because I might meet him one day.

"What's he play in? MEGADETH? METALLICA? Is he in METALLICA?" Reb added. "Oh, then I have no problem doing that because in their biggest video, 'Nothing Else Matters', when they threw darts at a poster of Kip Winger, and then they showed it live — 20,000 people every night laughing at WINGER — I don't mind saying that Kirk Hammett sucks."

"Lux Æterna" is the lead single from METALLICA's upcoming album, "72 Seasons", which will be released April 14 via METALLICA's own Blackened Recordings. Produced by Greg Fidelman with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, and clocking in at over 77 minutes, the 12-track "72 Seasons" is METALLICA's first full-length collection of new material since 2016's "Hardwired…To Self-Destruct".

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