Kirk Hammett Is Making Excuses for ’Lazy Playing’ on New Metallica Album, Says Guitar YouTuber: ’Super Regurgitated Boring Lazy Phrasing’

YouTube guitar star Bradley Hall released a new video where he addressed one of Kirk Hammett’s recent interviews. And in this particular interview, Kirk addressed one of Bradley’s viral videos where the YouTuber played a lead section to Metallica’s new song “Lux Æterna” but that, according to its title, “doesn’t suck.”

Going through this interview, Bradley Hall addressed Kirk’s comments that sweep picking is “incredibly easy but sounds incredibly hard.” Bradley said (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“I guess there’s some truth in that. Sweeping’s a lot easier to learn than people assume.”

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Going further into it, Kirk has also addressed some criticisms of his solos, supposedly saying that they’re not difficult to play. After reading this part, Bradley said:

“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.”

“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?”

“The idea of the video was just to try and show what could have been done if you just paid a bit more attention to what’s going on in the backing. You know, like follow the riff and the rhythms and chords and all that stuff. You know, things that you should do when a good memorable solo.”

“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.”

Addressing Kirk’s comments about how adding sweep-picking arpeggios to such a song would be completely off and sound like an “exercise,” Bradley responded:

“This is actually insulting to read coming from someone of Kirk’s caliber. If you can’t implement arpeggios into a solo and make it not sound like an exercise, then that’s just a you problem. That just means that you’re not good enough at guitar.”

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He also added:

“But I don’t know, man, I don’t want to believe that Kirk is this dense. And it’s fucking simple. So I’m going to give him a benefit of doubt and I’ll just assume he’s being paraphrased heavily in this article or something and they’re just trying to make him sound like a bit of a dunce.”

During the said interview, Kirk also discussed why he preferred to use the pentatonic scale in this solo, explaining that it all comes down to making vocal-like melodies that are easy to hum along to. He also added that it’s much more challenging to actually use a pentatonic scale than anything else. After going through this part, Bradley said:

“On paper, he’s absolutely right. But this is reliant on the player in question being competent enough to be able to pull it off. Just because you use the pentatonic scale does not mean automatically that your solos will be your vocal-like. No, not at all.”

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“This all comes down to how good you are at phrasing. It’s really just down to that.”

After showing some of the snippets from Kirk’s solos on Metallica’s new album, Bradley said:

“These are not memorable phrases. This just sounds like somebody going through the motions and just playing something off the top of their head and not really being bothered to go back and refine it.”

“And there’s nothing here that’s particularly memorable that will still in your head long after listening to the songs. I’m sorry but it’s just the truth. Just because you went down the route of playing something more raw and improvised. It’s just the truth.”

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“Just because you went down the route of playing something more and improvised, it doesn’t mean that you have this right now to be all like high and mighty. Fair enough if the level of improvisation was good and phrasing was really nice. But it’s not. It just sounds like super regurgitated boring lazy phrasing.”

“There are plenty of examples in Metallica’s early work where Kirk… All he’s doing is using the pentatonic scale, or maybe some very, very basic modal stuff as well, but the solos are so memorable.”

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“I mean, look at the ‘Enter Sandman’ solo. That’s pretty much just like 90 percent pentatonic wankery but it’s so well phrased that anybody can sing that solo. It’s legendary.”

“So he has to understand, just because he’s taking this holier-than-thou approach of like ‘I’m just gonna  stick to the pentatonic scale and play everything raw and improvised off the top of my head’… That doesn’t make it good or means that it necessarily suits the song. It just sounds like excuses for lazy ass playing.”

The said Kirk Hammett’s interview was conducted by Total Guitar. You can read what Kirk said below:

“Yeah, my fucking friends down the street could probably play a better solo than ‘Lux Æterna’ – but what’s the point. For me, what’s appropriate is playing for the song and playing in the moment.”

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“I was just laughing the whole time. I could string together like six or seven three-octave arpeggios in 16th notes, sit there every day and practice it and go, ‘Hey, look what I can do!’ but where am I gonna put it? That won’t work in any Metallica song!“

“Arpeggios? Come on! In a guitar solo, mapped out like a lot of people do, four or five chords with a different arpeggio over each one? It sounds like an exercise. I don’t want to listen to exercises and warm-ups every time I hear a song.” 

Addressing the issue of sweep picking, Kirk said:

“The only guys out there who I think convincingly play arpeggios as a means of expression are Joe Satriani, Yngwie [Malmsteen], and Paul Gilbert.”

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“Sweeping to me is a weird thing to begin with because sweeping’s incredibly easy but it sounds incredibly hard. That’s cool once or twice, but I mean, why do it? When it first came out in the late ’70s, by the early ’80s everyone was doing it. By not doing it, you stood out.”

The part about the pentatonic scale reads:

“I know my modes, Hungarian scales, symmetrical scales, I know all that shit. Is it appropriate? Maybe earlier in our time, but not now,” he says. “What’s more appropriate is coming up with melodies that are more like vocal melodies. And guess what? The best scale for mimicking vocal melodies is the pentatonic.”

 “It’s actually harder to say stuff with pentatonics because you don’t have that many notes. It’s easier to play modal. I will challenge anyone on that.”

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“I love from the heart playing, and I’ve heard real technical playing that’s from the heart. Allan Holdsworth, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Yngwie – they all play from the heart, but for a lot of guys it’s just like sports or the Olympics.“

“Music is to reflect beauty, creativity, feeling, life. There is a place and there’s an audience for all that stuff, but I feel there comes a time when people just get tired of that.“

“Today, you know, people are doing really interesting stuff with technique. Technique is reaching new boundaries and I love that, but I have to stress it’s important to play for the song. If you do that, your music will have that much more integrity and lasting power.”

Photos: Raph_PH (Metallica – The O2 – Sunday 22nd October 2017 MetallicaO2221017-89 (37187887354))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.