Metallica’s Bassist Robert Trujillo Plays Metallica Songs Flamenco-Style, Joined by Rodrigo y Gabriela

Heavy Met­al has always had its baroque non-met­al ele­ments. It seems that no mat­ter how hard and fast a met­al band rocks, they’re even­tu­al­ly going to slip into some form of medieval Scan­di­na­vian folk music, Teu­ton­ic opera, Tolkienesque fan­ta­sy con­cept album song cycle, or at least—on the bub­blegum end of the spectrum—soft rock bal­lad…. (You’re prob­a­bly already pic­tur­ing tiny Stone­henge on the Spinal Tap stage.) Such ref­er­ences have been in the genre’s DNA since the days of met­al fore­fa­thers Led Zep­pelin and Deep Pur­ple.

Metal­li­ca, and the oth­er three of the big four founders of thrash metal—Anthrax, Megadeath, and Slayer—emerged as an anti­dote to metal’s occa­sion­al pre­ten­tious­ness and grandios­i­ty. Much clos­er to punk and hard­core (they once cov­ered campy hor­ror punks The Mis­fits) than to the bom­bas­tic span­dex and hair­spray indus­try met­al became, ear­ly Metal­li­ca prid­ed them­selves on vio­lent­ly aggres­sive music and imagery, and a com­plete absence of sub­tle­ty. (See the orig­i­nal title and cov­er for their debut album Kill ‘em All.)

But they soft­ened in time, as we know, and even­tu­al­ly intro­duced some some non-met­al into their songwriting—most notably in the grim acoustic bal­ladry of megahit “One.” Now, thanks to new (-ish) bassist Robert Tru­jil­lo, the met­al leg­ends can add a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent acoustic style to their repertoire—“flamingo,” as lead singer James Het­field describes Trujillo’s fla­men­co gui­tar chops in the video above. And, as if to prove his bona fides in the fla­men­co world, Tru­jil­lo got to jam with the reign­ing king and queen of Nue­vo Fla­men­co gui­tarists, Mex­i­can duo Rodri­go y Gabriela—two play­ers whose speed and vir­tu­os­i­ty match those of the best met­al shred­ders, but whose roots come from a much old­er tra­di­tion. (See them rip through “Tama­cun” below.)

In the video at the top of the post, Tru­jil­lo and his low-slung bass join the acoustic duo on stage dur­ing their encore at a Red Rocks con­cert in 2014 for a fla­men­co-style med­ley of Metal­li­ca clas­sics, includ­ing “Ori­on,” “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” “The Frayed Ends of San­i­ty,” and “Bat­tery.” It some­how seems like a per­fect fit for the ver­sa­tile Tru­jil­lo, who grew up as inspired by jazz fusion bassist Jaco Pas­to­rius and funk and Motown play­ers (he opens his guest spot above with the “Jun­gle Boo­gie” bass riff) as he was by Black Sab­bath. He brought many of these influ­ences to pre­vi­ous bands like Sui­ci­dal Ten­den­cies and Infec­tious Grooves. And now—in addi­tion to “flamingo”—he’s brought to Metal­li­ca some­thing else pre­vi­ous­ly unheard-of in met­al: slap bass solos.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

With Medieval Instru­ments, Band Per­forms Clas­sic Songs by The Bea­t­les, Red Hot Chili Pep­pers, Metal­li­ca & Deep Pur­ple

A Blue­grass Ver­sion of Metallica’s Heavy Met­al Hit, “Enter Sand­man”

Finnish Musi­cians Play Blue­grass Ver­sions of AC/DC, Iron Maid­en & Ron­nie James Dio

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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