Kirk Hammett Says METALLICA's St. Anger Proved That Solos Are Needed
When Metallica released St. Anger in 2003 (!?!) it was universally panned by longtime fans. One major criticism of the album was the complete and utter disregard of solos. It was a conscious decision at the time, but not one that guitarist Kirk Hammett agreed with.
You might recall, during the documentary about the making of the album, Some Kind of Monster, there was a big fight with Kirk and Lars about the situation that was diffused by producer Bob Rock. Ultimately, they decided it was up to if the song needed the solo – whatever is best for the song.
In a 2003 interview, Hammett even defended the lack of solos:
"The reason for that is because again we wanted to move together all four of us in the same musical direction," he said. "We also wanted to preserve the sound of the album. When we tried to put overdubs on the album and put guitar solos on the album it kind of…it sounded like an afterthought, you know? Like something was put on after we created it. It stood out. We wanted to preserve the sound of all four of us in a room just jamming. Spontaneously together. To put production stuff on top of that just didn't sound right. We tried to put guitar solos on, but we kept on running into this problem. It really sounded like an afterthought." Asked if he's satisfied with how the record came out, Hammett said, "Oh yeah, absolutely. I'm so proud of this album. It freaks me out. I haven't been this proud of an album since 'The Black Album', I must say. I mean, the Load and Reload era for us was such a reaction to our first five albums. We didn't want to do what we had been doing: play fast, over the top and aggressive. If anything, the Load and Reload era was a big experiment in hard rock. We needed to do these two albums for us to make St. Anger. If we would have made St. Anger in the mid-nineties, it wouldn't have been fresh and as exciting for us as it was now. It would have felt like doing the same old thing. We needed to balance it out. When we finally got around playing fast and aggressive again, it sounded fresh. You need to get to point A to be able to make point B sound better, you know?"
But, of course, that was before the album was released and totally bombed. But now, 15 years later, Hammett has new perspective.
“I guess it was appropriate for the time. But looking back, it doesn’t seem so appropriate to me now," he said, adding, “I will always object to that, but I think the message was driven home after that album, that solos are needed in Metallica! People look forward to hearing them. So for me there was a weird vindication.”
It should be noted that Metallica has since returned to soloing on albums.
It should also be noted that you should take a listen to our St. Anger running commentary where we watch and review the doc in real time.