“This music was created with what I describe as an Audio-Cinematic approach. They’re soundtracks to the movies in your mind.” – Kirk Hammett

Kirk Hammett of Metallica has released a first taste of his upcoming debut solo EP in the form of “High Plains Drifter.” The track opens the second side of Portals, Kirk’s four-song EP out April 23, 2022 via Blackened Recordings across digital platforms, on CD, and as a Record Store Day Exclusive Ocean Blue Vinyl EP (including a download card).

Featuring contributions from Edwin Outwater (with whom Kirk had previously collaborated on Metallica’s S&M2 concerts and releases), Jon Theodore of Queens of the Stone Age (and Kirk’s Wedding Band bandmate), members of the LA Philharmonic and more, “High Plains Drifter” shares a unique inspirational relationship with the 1973 cinematic classic of the same name. The song, Kirk explains, “was not meant to be specifically music for that film, but it was once it was written, I immediately thought it conveyed the same sentiment as the film, so the piece was christened accordingly. The music for ‘High Plains Drifter’ initially came from a Flamenco piece I had written. It was a two-and-a-half-minute piece, and I really liked it, but it was one of those riffs that would be hard to integrate into Metallica. I knew I wanted to do something with it, even though it came out spontaneously. I had been sitting outside messing around with a Flamenco acoustic guitar I’d just bought, and it flowed out in the moment. I was determined it would have a life. It would have its moment.”

“High Plains Drifter” can be heard here

True to its title, Portals is a collection of gateways to myriad musical and psychic destinations. Recorded in multiple locales ranging from Los Angeles to Paris to Oahu, Portals is both the result of musical and metaphysical journeys. An invitation to inner worlds accessible only by music and the psyche it fuels.

Produced by Kirk, Portals is comprised of the songs “Maiden and the Monster” and “The Jinn” on side A, followed by “High Plains Drifter” and “The Incantation” on side B (both co-written with Outwater, who contributes keyboards and leads the orchestral players from the LA Philharmonic on Portals). Other familiar names amongst the Portals players include Abraham Laboriel, Greg Fidelman, Emmy-winning arranger Blake Neely, and Bob Rock.

CD Review: Jeff Loomis “Plains of Oblivion”

Jeff Loomis
“Plains of Oblivion”
Century Media Records
Producer: Aaron Smith
Tracks: 10

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Plains of Oblivion” is the second solo release from Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis. The album hosts a variety of musicians such as former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman. The album is being released via Century Media Records and features 10 original tracks that were produced by Aaron Smith.

The new album by Jeff Loomis is more than just another progressive metal album. “Plains of Oblivion” Is an album packed full of songs that will make your head spin and your ears bleed from the sheer sonic goodness. Each of the 10 songs on the album feature creative structures that even fair-weather fans of    progressive metal music will enjoy. Tracks such as “Escape Velocity” and “Requiem for the Living” were strong personal favorites as I really loved the thunderous background of each track. Couple that with Loomis’s over the top solos and you can’t go wrong. Fans of Jeff’s other work will surely want to check this album out as it really showcases his playing on a whole new level. Guest appearances by Chris Poland on the track “Continuum Drift” and Tony MacAlpine on “The Ultimatum” were also highlights of “Plains of Oblivion”.

Though the album took a few listens through before I could fully appreciate it I found it to be a pretty good album. I would have liked a couple of the songs to be trimmed down a bit more but lengthy songs come with the territory. If you are looking for an album with some really great playing then do yourself and pick up the latest album from Jeff Loomis.

Track Listing:
1.)    Mercurial
2.)    The Ultimatum
3.)    Escape Velocity
4.)    Tragedy and Harmony
5.)    Requiem for the Living
6.)    Continuum Drift
7.)    Surrender
8.)    Chosen Time
9.)    Rapture
10.)  Sibylline Origin