Known for his unique neoclassical playing style in the heavy metal scene, Yngwie Malmsteen revealed his thoughts on Metallica during Guitar World’s blindfold test in 1994 and said that James Hetfield sings better than all vocalists while explaining why he considered Kirk Hammett’s playing bad.
In 1994, Guitar World released an article in which Yngwie Malmsteen was asked to listen to several unidentified tracks by unnamed artists and comment on their music. Blindly critiquing the contemporary musicians of the late mid-’90s, Malmsteen commented on the music of Pantera, Dream Theater, Joe Satriani, Primus, Pearl Jam, and more.
Recently, Guitar World re-published that quite entertaining article and revealed Malmsteen’s comments again. Upon listening to Metallica’s ‘Master Of Puppets,’ Malmsteen recognized the band immediately although it was his second time hearing the song, and said he loves it. He then said that Metallica is the best among all the bands that play that type of music, and argued that James Hetfield sings better than all of the other vocalists.
Malmsteen then stated that he might have influenced them and concluded that the band has a great sound overall. He then shared his thoughts on Kirk Hammett by saying that his guitar playing is not really good as his choice of notes and sense of pitch is bad. He added that although Hammett is good at playing fast, he does not think he plays with musicality or in tune as his solo seemed to be an anticlimax for him.
After hearing Metallica’s ‘Master Of Puppets,’ Malmsteen’s reaction and thoughts according to Guitar World were:
“That’s Metallica – I love it! This is maybe the second time I’ve heard this song, and the first time I’ve heard the live version. My old drummer and keyboardist liked Metallica a lot, and they played me this song around the time I was recording Odyssey. I liked it then and like it now.
Of all the bands that play this type of music, Metallica’s the best. James Hetfield sings better than all the other vocalists and Lars Ulrich is a great drummer. I feel some sort of connection with them. I think the band heard some of my early demos, which sounded something like this. I’m not saying I influenced them, but maybe I did.
Overall, the band has a great sound. But I think the lead guitar player Kirk Hammett is not very good. He can play fast and is pretty good at it. But his choice of notes and sense of pitch are very bad. I don’t think that he plays with musicality, or plays in tune. Rather than lifting the song, his solo seems to be an anticlimax.”
Although it has been 27 years since this article was released, it still appears to be a fun experience to read Malmsteen’s thoughts on other musicians while he was blindly critiquing them.