Portals - EP

Portals - EP

“It was never my intention to put out a solo album, ever,” Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett tells Apple Music. “As I keep telling people, I don’t take myself that seriously, and I’m not that clever. But these things just happen.” The thing that happened, specifically, is Portals, the cinema-inspired instrumental EP he wrote with keyboard and production assistance from composer Edwin Outwater, who conducted the San Francisco Symphony on Metallica’s 2019 orchestral collaboration, S&M2. Hammett says Portals was born out of a Peabody Museum exhibition of his extensive collection of horror movie posters. “Rather than the usual canned music they play for all the exhibits, I thought maybe it’d be cool if I came up with some background music,” he explains. “So, it all came from my attempt to compose something very simplistic and kind of blasé and not very attention-grabbing, but I failed miserably. Instead, it ended up being like four separate soundtracks for four separate movies.” Below, he details each track. “Maiden and the Monster” “This was the first thing I wrote for all of this. The intention was to try to capture the feel and the atmosphere of the movies from the silent era, particularly the German Expressionist cinema and the horror movies that were coming out of Universal Studios in the 1920s. The films that were going through my mind at that time were Nosferatu, Der Golem, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, as well as Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, films like Häxan and The Wizard—abstract, silent horror films. Back then, there was a real connection between black-and-white movies and Baroque music, so I tried to give it that kind of feel.” “The Jinn” “In my mind, this one represents the late-’40s, post-World War II cinema, when it was not so romantic. There was a good deal of realism in the horror movies of the ’40s because people had actually seen the horrors of war on a mass basis, and that was a real influence on American culture. That war paranoia pervaded the movies, so you’ve got these films with invaders coming from somewhere and wreaking havoc, making all your familiar places seemingly unfamiliar overnight. I was really trying to capture that desperation from the movies of the late ’40s into the ’50s and early ’60s. They were basically trying to relieve everyone’s paranoia about the bomb, the Cold War, Communist invasion and whatnot.” “High Plains Drifter” “I saw the Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter when I was a kid. I remember walking out of the theatre thinking, ‘Did I just see a horror movie wrapped up in western clothing?’ That’s what the movie has always felt like to me. This was a piece that I originally wrote on flamenco guitar. It didn’t really find a place in Metallica’s music, but I thought it still had merit. So, I played it for Edwin—he got it instantly, and we worked on it together. The music reminded me of the movie. It has that haunting, western, Ennio Morricone feel that I thought really captured what the movie was about.” “The Incantation” “This came from a piece of music that I became totally obsessed about and ended up rewriting seven different times. I even named it ‘The Insanity Suite’ at first because of that. I worked so much on it that I lost perspective. So, again, I played it for Edwin and then we worked on it together. He wrote the middle part, which is what the track needed—a break from all the dark, moody stuff. To me, it sounds like a ritual. Listening to it is so demanding that it feels like you’ve given a part of yourself or paid some sort of price just to hear it. It has this big, orchestral climax where we used a six-piece chamber orchestra comprised of Edwin and members from the LA Philharmonic. They’re on ‘High Plains Drifter’ as well. I think the results are just fantastic.”

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