Metallica's Kirk Hammett was fortunate enough to have lessons with Joe Satriani. 'Joe was a big influence back then but not so much these days,' he told Guitar & Bass in Nov 1996 shortly after the release of Load. 'He showed me how to use modes, and he showed me a lot of theory – like what chords to play over what scales, and vice versa. I learned a lot of finger exercises, as well. I had lessons from 1983 until, like '87, on and off – maybe four lessons a year, sometimes. I never had enough time because I was always touring! And then when he hit big with Surfing With The Alien he didn't have time either. In fact, I think I was probably his last student.
'I've been really big on practising in the past, but sometimes you just have to take a break from it. I found that when you take a break and get back to it, you're so much more enthusiastic – you just feel recharged.'
Much of Hammett's soloing on Load is based around the E blues scale at the 12th fret, often using double-stop bends on strings two and three. 'Playing like that just felt – well, really comfortable,' says Kirk. 'I didn't feel like being very modal on this album, because I did five albums of modal stuff. I got modal in a few places like on King Nothing but the songs just didn't call for that. Lars kept telling me to "lean into" the track – I would think, "What the fuck is he talking about?" And then one day when I played a lick he said, "Yeah, that’s leaning into it." I was laying back and playing a little bit off the beat – maybe like SRV did.'
Up until preparation for Load, after the death of bassist Cliff Burton Metallica was very much the James'n'Lars show – with rhythm guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich having much of the input into songwriting and arrangements, and a very strict demarcation regarding guitar duties – Hetfield on all rhythm parts, Hammett taking care of the lead parts. However, from Load onwards things changed a bit and Hammett was afforded a greater role.
Without the key of E minor, there really would be no Metallica. It's the band's favourite key by far, and most of the following exercise are in E minor. They are all indicated to be played at a tempo of BPM = 120, but try at a variety of tempos.