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Kirk Hammett - Portals Music Album Reviews

Kirk Hammett - Portals Music Album Reviews
The first-ever proper side project from a Metallica member indulges the guitarist’s cinematic aspirations over sweeping compositions that could accompany zombie westerns or apocalyptic sci-fi.

“When someone does a side project, it takes away from the strength of Metallica,” frontman James Hetfield once told Playboy. But a lot has changed since the fractious days that birthed 2003’s St. Anger and Some Kind of Monster, one of the most revealing and intimate rock documentaries ever made about a band that seemingly hates each other. Back then, Metallica found itself at a crossroads, struggling with interband tension, sitting through therapy sessions, and even forbidding guitarist Kirk Hammett from playing any of his famously virtuosic solos on their new records. Nowadays, however, Metallica is in the comfortable role of elder statesmen, content to repeat past glories and indulge sprawling mixtape projects, like 2021’s The Metallica Blacklist, an overstuffed tribute to their 1991 breakthrough album that grouped disparate artists like Moses Sumney, Miley Cyrus, and Kamasi Washington.

Portals, Hammett’s debut solo outing and the first-ever proper side project from any member of the long-running thrash band, arrived on Record Store Day with not only the blessing of his bandmates, but via the band’s own Blackened label. Recorded over the course of five years in multiple locations, the four-song instrumental EP reveals Hammett’s aspirations to be a film composer, layering crescendoing horns, flamenco interludes, swelling strings—and, naturally, oversized riffs and unhinged shredding—into compositions that could accompany zombie westerns, gothic giallo thrillers, or apocalyptic sci-fi. Occasionally his cinematic references are explicit—“The Incantation” opens with a theme that reads as pure John Williams, and “High Plains Drifter” shares its title with a 1973 Clint Eastwood western—but Hammett suggests an “audio-cinematic” approach that isn’t tied to any specific narrative, clearing space for his imagination to wander.

While some of these songs began as background music for a Hammett’s It’s Alive exhibition, a touring showcase of memorabilia from his horror and sci-fi collection, he often eschews ambiance and scene setting in favor of fully present rock outs. It doesn’t matter that the territory is more Thin Lizzy than Hans Zimmer; it’s a thrill to hear Hammett playing so unabashed. It conjures a sense of “larger than life” awe, the audio equivalent of the expression on Hammett’s face while gazing at his 13-foot King Kong poster over on the Columbia Museum of Art’s YouTube channel. Opener “The Maiden and the Monster'' fades in with John Carpenter-esque synth swells and tape reversed guitar before settling into “Call of Ktulu”-style fingerpicking. Drums enter in the second half, and by the time the epic reaches its conclusion, it feels like a Load-era Bond theme with Hammett’s Santana-style squeals soaring over a chugging fanfare. The Incantation” follows a similar narrative journey, its intro evoking the magical whimsy of Hogwarts before giving way to a psychedelic sitar break and cascading riffs that feel equally indebted to Danny Elfman and the proggy chug of Mastodon.

With its skittering strings, arch vibe, and harmonized guitars that sound like they could have appeared on Ride the Lightning, “The Jinn” is a blast, a slab of heroic, triumphant metal that soars with or without an imaginary movie marathon playing in your skull. As a lead guitarist, Hammett is often called to bring a sense of abandon to Metallica’s martial grooves. On Portals, he lets loose, allowing for a kind of unfussy bravado that doesn’t always make its way onto Metallica albums, where drummer Lars Ulrich tends to micro-mangages Hammett’s solos. “High Plains Drifter” taps into a Morricone mood similar to Black Album cut “The Unforgiven.” With delicately fingerpicked acoustic guitar and twangy electrics that nod to the song’s early life as a flamenco composition, it’s the shortest track on the album and one that demands immediate replay.

A film composer’s job is to enhance what’s on screen, stirring emotion and sustaining tension. Without any on-screen action to guide it, Portals rarely functions like traditional soundtrack music, but the concept winds up feeling beside the point. Often viewed as the soft spoken counterpoint to Ulrich and Hetfield, Hammett relishes this star turn, and his sense of freedom in exploring beyond the confines of Metallica is palpable. (Along with bassist Robert Trullijo, he’s also been playing in an R&B/classic rock project called the Wedding Band.) These instrumentals smartly devote plenty of real estate to Hammett’s familiar metalhead strengths, but they also reveal compositional breadth and dramatic flair. Stepping away from the colossus of Metallica, Hammett revels in being his own singular kind of monster.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Kirk Hammett - Portals Music Album Reviews Kirk Hammett - Portals Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, May 04, 2022 Rating: 5

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