Best known for his guitar-focused YouTube channel, guitarist Bradley Hall addressed one of Kirk Hammett’s recent statements concerning the supposed lack in popularity of guitar solos today, also mentioning the lack of innovativeness in lead guitar parts on Metallica’s latest record.
Bradley already has some history discussing Kirk’s performance on Metallica’s “72 Seasons,” even calling it “lazy playing” when the album came out. But in his latest video, he reflected on Hammett recently, saying that most music listeners don’t really care about guitar solos. And he didn’t exactly agree with Metallica’s lead guitarist, saying that Kirk “feels that guitar solos should be improvised and off the cuff.” He then added (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):
“Fair enough, but if you’re gonna do that, you need to be a good improviser — and unfortunately, Kirk isn’t. He’s not Guthrie Govan, let’s put it that way.”
And while pointing out that he’s actually a huge fan of Kirk’s old works and that he was influenced by his lead parts in Metallica, Bradley Hall says that the recent statement felt like an excuse for his subpar performances on the latest album.
“I feel like he’s saying all this — maybe sort of projecting — because he knows his solos on ’72 Seasons’ were very throwaway,” Hall added. Discussing the matter, he even said that it kind of feels “like early Kirk and late Kirk are two different people.”
A solo that Bradley mentioned was the one in “If Darkness Had a Son.” And his review of the part wasn’t at all flattering for Kirk.
“This sounds so amateur,” Hall said. “It sounds like a joke. It’s like he’s recording in isolation; he’s not paying attention to the accompaniment at all. Playing random crap that could be played literally over anything in the same key.”
And, on top of that, paired with these performances on “72 Seasons,” Bradley finds Hammett’s recent comments to be “elitist” in a way. He continued:
“It’s just the attitude I can’t get over — him hating on solos all of a sudden. It’s like being a bit elitist. It’s very bizarre; very contradictory to what he used to stand for.”
Instead, Hall argues that Kirk should be more positive about these things and inspire new generations to write and perform lead guitar parts.
“Metallica are the biggest metal band on the planet,” he added. “And this guy is a role model for so many guitarists. People who aren’t so savvy with the internet just take what he says as gospel.”
“He should be spreading a more positive, encouraging message, encouraging people to write good guitar solos, no matter what they are. I feel a bit of this myself — only a fraction of Kirk has [in terms of influence] — but I feel like it’s my duty to spread a positive message about guitar and encourage people to play… Don’t be such sour grapes Kirk, liven up a little bit.”
Hammett addressed the critiques of his solo in the album’s debut single, “Lux Æterna” when it came out, even discussing alternate takes that some guitar YouTubers did. And although he didn’t mention Bradley by name, the YouTuber kind of went viral with his takes, so it was assumed that Kirk watched this version as well.
And although Kirk said that his improvised all-pentatonic performance on the album was deliberate, Hall argued that this wasn’t the issue but rather just his “lazy” approach.
“People are not mocking him and his solos because they’re not hard to play. People are mocking him because the solos sound lazy and completely throwaway,” Hall said in his analysis last year in April.
“This is the most common deflection that people use when they’re criticizing their playing. It’s not about who can play the most complicated solo. He’s missing the point, the point of the criticism.”
“I think most people understood what I was trying to do with this video. But some missed the point, of course, including Kirk, I guess. It was not to try and one-up him… That’s cringe. Like, who cares?”
He also explained:
“Kirk’s original solo — I can kind of see what he was going for. He just wanted sort of a raw, off-the-wall, unhinged kind of sound. But that’s not that sort of song. That solo would sound more in place in like a really thrashy sort of Slayer song.”