The song offers the first taste of music from the EP, and sees Hammett embracing his fondness for cinema and epic musical composition. The guitarist enlisted the help of Edwin Outwater (Metallica’s S&M2), Jon Theodore of Queens of the Stone Age (and a member of Kirk’s covers act The Wedding Band), and members of the LA Philharmonic orchestra to achieve the grandeur heard on “High Plains Drifter.”
As Hammett explained in a press release, the track shares an inspirational relationship with the 1973 film of the same name.
“[The song] was not meant to be specifically music for that film, but … once it was written, I immediately thought it conveyed the same sentiment as the film, so the piece was christened accordingly,” Hammett said. “The music for ‘High Plains Drifter’ initially came from a Flamenco piece I had written. 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.”
He added, “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.”
Hammett previously said that the material was created with an “Audio-Cinematic” approach: “They’re soundtracks to the movies in your mind.”
Meanwhile, Hammett is also working on a new album with Metallica, though few details are currently known. For now, you can catch Metallica live at their headlining appearances at the Boston Calling and BottleRock festivals in May, as well as a few additional US gigs this summer, including Lollapalooza. Pick up tickets to the band’s upcoming shows via Ticketmaster.
Stream “High Plains Drifter” below.