Kirk Hammett Labels Judas Priest the “Architects” of Heavy Metal, Says Metallica Worshipped Them

Metallica’s legacy could have ended before it ever began. The heavy metal legends fired lead guitarist Dave Mustaine shortly after arriving on the East Coast to record their 1983 debut Kill ‘Em All. Kirk Hammett flew to New York for an audition the same day. After watching him nail the guitar solo in “Seek and Destroy,” vocalist James Hetfield said, “[I]t was like… things are going to be all right!” Things were more than all right. More than 40 years later, Metallica is still one of the “big four” bands credited with founding thrash metal. However, Hammett is adamant that they couldn’t have done it without Judas Priest.

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Metallica Worships ‘At the Altar of Judas Priest,’ Kirk Hammett Says

The four members of Metallica rarely get to watch their heroes perform live. “We’re always backstage doing press or getting ready for the show or rehearsing or whatever,” Hammett said.

So when the band played the Power Trip music festival last October, they made sure to arrive in Indio, California, a few days ahead of schedule. And they were able to watch their fellow headliners—Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses, Tool, AC/DC and Judas Priest—from the audience.

“We were worshipping at the altar of Judas Priest,” Hammett said during a May 25 Q&A session in Munich, Germany.

“Their music means so much to us,” the 61-year-old guitarist continued. “And the way Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing played the guitars – I mean, they are architects of what we now know as heavy metal, to put it bluntly. And James and I, we love Priest.”

The two heavy metal icons look like teenage fanboys in a video posted to YouTube. Both Hammett and Hetfield enthusiastically play guitar alongside seemingly unaware audience members.

Kirk Hammett’s Horrifying Affinity

Kirk Hammett loves two things: guitars and horror movies. The Metallica guitarist’s love affair with the genre began in the late ’60s, when a then 5-year-old Hammett sprained his arm in a fight with his sister.

Hammett’s parents placed their son in front of the TV, perhaps as a punishment. Instead, he watched the 1963 British film The Day of the Triffids and was hooked. From then on, all his milk money went to horror magazines instead.

[RELATED: Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Has Written and Soundtracked a Horror Story]

Strangely, Hammett’s affinity for horror movies is also responsible for his success with Metallica. He began selling his horror magazines to buy music records, which led to him picking up his first guitar at age 15.

Featured image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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