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Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Explores the Impact of Prog Rock on Heavy Metal

Metallica's Kirk Hammett Explores the Impact of Prog Rock on Heavy Metal

In a recent conversation on the ‘Kyle Meredith with…’ podcast, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett delved into the profound influence of progressive rock (prog rock) on the heavy metal genre. He emphasized the critical role this genre, known for intricate compositions and musical innovation, has played in shaping heavy metal’s distinctive sound. Let’s delve into Kirk Hammett’s insights on the subject in detail.

Prog Rock: A Catalyst for Heavy Metal Evolution

Kirk Hammett openly expressed his deep appreciation for classical music and prog rock, underscoring their contemporary relevance. He admitted that he had only recently discovered prog rock, but he swiftly recognized its pivotal role in the evolution of heavy metal. According to him, the early pioneers of prog rock exerted a profound impact on the development of heavy metal. Without this early prog influence, he believes that heavy metal would have a vastly different sonic landscape today.

Exploring New Horizons: Kirk’s Prog Rock Favorites

The renowned guitarist went on to share some of his recent musical discoveries in the world of prog rock. Although he had always been a fan of Rush, he confessed to delving deeper into bands like Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis, and King Crimson. He even admitted to having a period when he was deeply immersed in Yes’s music, much to the bemusement of those around him. Kirk emphasized that these bands and their music are not only exceptional but also instrumental in the development of musical styles.

Revolutionizing Metallica’s Live Performances

Kirk Hammett’s dedication to advancing his craft extends to Metallica’s live performances. He expressed his intent to approach guitar solos differently during their upcoming tour. Drawing inspiration from legendary guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck, and Michael Schenker, he asserted that playing solos live should be a moment of genuine artistic expression and authenticity. For their forthcoming album ’72 Seasons,’ Kirk intentionally improvised multiple solos, ensuring that each concert offers a unique and distinctive performance. This approach ensures that Metallica fans can expect something different every time they attend a live show.

The Call for Spontaneity in Live Music

In an era where live performances are readily accessible through online videos, Kirk Hammett champions the importance of delivering something exceptional at live shows. He advocates for spontaneity and unpredictability in their performances, offering fans a compelling reason to attend. In his view, this element of surprise and improvisation adds a distinct dimension to the live music experience.


Kirk Hammett’s insights shed light on the mutually influential relationship between prog rock and heavy metal. He underscores how the innovative and exploratory nature of the progressive genre has left an indelible mark on the landscape of heavy metal. Furthermore, his commitment to evolving his guitar solos and delivering fresh performances reflects Metallica’s dedication to providing their fans with an unforgettable live music experience.

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