Four decades after joining Metallica, guitarist Kirk Hammett is going solo for the first time in his career with an instrumental EP called Portals that comes out this Saturday (4/23) for Record Store Day. It'll be available at local independent retailers and in Metallica's online Met Store as a vinyl, CD, and digital release.

Kirk produced the EP himself, and it features two songs co-written with Edwin Outwater, who co-conducted the symphony orchestra for Metallica's S&M2, and Edwin also played keyboards on it and led the orchestral players from the LA Philharmonic that appear on this EP. The EP also includes drummers Jon Theodore (Kirk’s fellow Wedding Band member) and Abraham Laboriel, Greg Fidelman on bass, arranger Blake Neely, and Bob Rock. The EP is said to be "heavily influenced by classical music, soundtracks, horror movies, and maybe a little Ennio Morricone," and you can definitely hear all of that coming through on lead single "High Plains Drifter," which was just given the music video treatment today, directed by Awesome + Modest. Check that out below.

"The music for 'High Plains Drifter' initially came from a flamenco piece I had written," Kirk said in a statement. "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."

Kirk also just spoke to Rolling Stone about the new EP, including getting the rest of the band's blessing to go solo:

We kind of see it like this: We’re not musicians, we’re artists. Ethically, morally, and creatively, it’s wrong to deny someone the opportunities to express themselves and create. And I think that’s kind of where everyone is sitting right now. Also, now we’re so much more accepting of what happens in our lives because so much stuff has happened to us in the last 20 years — so much stuff has happened in the last five years.

I think we’re a little bit more aware of our own mortality and how much more time we have as functioning artists, musicians, and band members. So there are other things that are more important to consider, like the longevity of the group, the mental health of the group, the creative energy of the group.

And those guys know I ain’t fucking going anywhere. Metallica is my fucking bed. Metallica is my home, and it would be fruitless to leave the band because, if I did, people would be reminding me every single day of how I was the Metallica guitar player. I don’t want to be put in a situation where I have to resist that. I want to always fucking be seen as just another guy in Metallica trying to make the best music along with these other three guys because that’s basically what we do. That’s our calling. It’s what the freaking universe wants us to do. I think along those lines.

Read more at Rolling Stone.

Kirk Hammett

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