Kirk Hammett has been playing the "Master Of Puppets" solo live note-for-note what he played on the record over the past four-ish decades, and he's pretty sick of it. Hammett said in an interview with Total Guitar that it drives him nuts playing "that fucking guitar solo," but he doesn't improvise a single because he knows it's what Metallica fans expect.
"What I'm going to say people are probably gonna hate, but it drives me nuts having to play that fucking guitar solo in 'Master of Puppets' every time. People love that guitar solo and they come to see that. That's fine. For that part of our career, all those solos are locked in. I don't view them as solos anymore; they're parts. I'm freaking bored of it, but it's exciting for people to hear."
Hammett's sentiment about some solos being more of a part than a solo is a great way of looking at it – there are just some solos that the song would sound weird without. Hammett then expresses a little more frustration, saying he'd a bigger fan of Metallica's ballad "Nothing Else Matters" because it affords him more freedom.
"I'm inviting all sorts of criticism and opinions but I don't fucking care. It's like the solo on 'Fade to Black.' I play the first eight bars and then I go on a tangent for like 20, 24 bars and then come back in the last four bars and play parts that everyone knows. That's one of my most favorite parts of playing that song live because I don't know what the fuck I'm gonna play."
So what about the solos on Metallica's new record 72 Seasons? Unsurprisingly, Hammett has taken a much more improvisational approach that won't lock him into playing the same thing over and over (for the next decade-ish).
"With this album I went in intentionally to improvise 20, 30 solos, give them all to Lars and Greg [Fidelman, producer], and go, 'You guys edit them!' I know I'm gonna play something completely different live. That's my thing these days and if people don't like it, that's just tough. But I can offer something a lot different than what people hear on the album, and I can offer something different every time you see Metallica."