Kirk Hammett is a guitarist of great temperament and vitality. Although he’s best known for his propulsive, powerful style of power chord carnage, the guitarist is actually much more nuanced, both as an artist and a person. That being said, he too has his influences, and inspirations, which likely explains why he tries to pay tribute to his favourite acts in his work.
In his own idiosyncratic way, he revealed his favourite band, when he reflected on some of the photos that were taken of the band, particularly those that were taken by Ross Halfin. Hammett joined Halfin for a Q&A session, in an effort to commemorate the band at one of their 40th-anniversary celebrations.
“We were in awe of Ross for a variety of reasons,” Hammett chimed in, “but mainly because of his work with Iron Maiden because it was everywhere at that point in the early ’80s. You couldn’t open up a heavy metal magazine and not see Ross’ pictures of Iron Maiden. They were everywhere and also because he shot my all-time favourite band UFO and actually knew people from UFO, and for me, it was just like he was like a connection to my favourite band of all time. As a 21-year-old kid like me, it was like a step closer to my heroes.”
By the time Hammett admitted to this revelation, he had more than earned his title as one of the heroes of heavy metal. Although it might be tricky to hear UFO in Metallica‘s work, some of the trappings can be heard on their fourth album, particularly in the angular fashion that presents the electric guitar like a mathematical equation that needs to be answered. And from those soaring arpeggios comes a sound that’s as animated and as soulful as anything in UFO’s canon.
Notably, Hammett also namechecked Iron Maiden as an influence on his work, which makes sense because he plays with such vitality, swagger and tenderness. But Hammett had the good fortune to work with a singer of James Hetfield’s demeanour, who brings a more realised vision of the world Metallica created, compared to the more one note approach of Bruce Dickinson.
Halfin was introduced into Metallica’s fold, because of his connection to Iron Maiden. With that in mind, while it would be wrong of us to describe Metallica as the successors to Iron Maiden, they are responsible for bringing the genre of metal to the next logical point of its trajectory. It’s unlikely Metallica would have garnered such a strong critical standing if they had continued to follow Dave Mustaine‘s direction, and not replaced him with Hammett.
Since his arrival, the band have gone from strength to strength, as has Mustaine, who still fronts Megadeth. He could barely conceal his fury in his memoirs when he was informed that he would not be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band despite having never played on a single studio album with Metallica. Well, you can’t have it all.
Stream UFO’s ‘Best Of’ below.