A rule that once seemed unbreakable – it did partially lead to Jason Newsted’s departure after all – now has its first exception. ‘Portals’ is the first solo project, in EP form, from an active Metallica member, supported in fact by the ‘government’, as it is released through the band’s own label, Blackened recordings.
It is true that Kirk Hammett hasn’t contributed compositionally to metal’s biggest band, since ‘Hardwired… to Self-Destruct’ does not contain any of his riffs, and we all remember the large and at times ironic coverage given to the lost idea-storage IPhone story. However, here comes a friendly reminder: Kirk, on top of some of the best solos in the history of music, has written the ‘Enter Sandman’ riff, and the ‘Creeping Death’ breakdown, and the ‘Damage Inc.’ bridge, to name a few, and his musical palette and influences could fill ten such EPs guaranteeing interesting and diverse results.
It is no accident that on ‘Portals’, besides Metallica producer Greg Fidelman on bass, we find drummer Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta, QOTSA), and S&M2 orchestra conductor Edwin Outwater on the keyboards. The four tracks on ‘Portals’ sound fresh, solos and wah pedals are used in moderation, and the musical themes aren’t really reminiscent of Metallica, but rather showcase Kirk’s range as a player. On ‘High Plains Drifter’ the famous guitarist gives us a ride to planet Dune, with a connection through… east London.