Every Metallica fan that was already following the band by the time they released …And Justice For All in 1989, will certainly remember the infamous Jethro Tull triumph during the Grammy's Awards ceremony of that year, when they unexpectedly won the award in the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental category with "Crest of a Knave".
As maddening as that turned out for many which considered Metallica would have been be the obvious recipients of that award, guitarist Kirk Hammett believes prog was "instrumental in what heavy metal is today."
In a recent appearance on the Kyle Meredith with… podcast (via Louder), Hammett admitted that he was slow to pick up on prog rock, but once he did, he fell in love with the genre.
"I'm super influenced by classical music and prog these days," he told the host. "I just discovered prog by the way, I just never got around to listening to it, and then a few years ago I was just like, Hey, I need to start listening to this stuff, because this stuff is really cool and important and instrumental in what, you know, heavy metal is today. I think you can definitely draw a line there, especially with the early prog: I mean, if it wasn't for that early prog, you know, heavy metal would sound different today… the prog influence was huge."
"I've always been a Rush fan, but I never really listened to, you know, Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis, King Crimson… all those kind of affiliated bands. At one point I was just like so into Yes, it was all I listened to for like a couple weeks, it was like driving everyone crazy around me. But you know it's just great stuff, really instrumental and important stuff."
Hammett's new-found love for prog is evident in his recent debut solo EP, Portals, which features prog-influenced elements, including complex melodies, odd time signatures, and extended instrumental passages. It's exciting to see that after 4 decades as the guitarist for arguably the biggest metal band in the world, he's still exploring new musical horizons.