Inspiration hits at the strangest times and in the strangest ways. In a recent interview with Apple Music, Metallica frontman James Hetfield shared the surprisingly monotonous conditions in which “Inamorata,” their longest song to day, came to fruition.
Hetfield shares that it was “written on Zoom, by the way. Lars and I sitting there, fiddling around, trying to connect over Zoom and write. The Pandora’s box was opened at that point. We’re bored, let’s do some stuff. And that was one of the riffs that came out of that session.”
Drummer and Hetfield’s most trusted songwriting partner Lars Ulrich had a feeling that James was close to hitting paydirt, saying: “It was special. It obviously didn’t start off as an 11-minute song but it wanted to keep going, and there was a feeling as the ideas continued to show up that the song was calling out for, ‘now we’ve got to take these detours and now we’ve got to go here, this bass breakdown…’
“I hear all the riffs, and these guys have to let me sort of cherry-pick the ones that will turn into songs, and from the first time I heard that, I thought, ‘That sits somewhere else.’”
It’s an interesting story, but one that co-producer Greg Fidelman disputes. He told Total Guitar: “Yeah, I think Inamorata is in C# or some very bizarre key. I don’t know why James was in C# when he was coming up with it. When we started working on it we said: ‘This is a weird key. Maybe should try this in A or in E?’ But for some reason that’s just not as cool. You’d think, ‘Let’s put it lower, it’ll sound even heavier.’ But it was the opposite.
“When we tried it in more common keys, everyone was like, ‘Now I don’t like it so much!’ So we embraced that challenge of writing a heavy song in C#. You don’t really have a lot of open strings as an option in that key, so it was to come up with some ideas that we may not have otherwise come up with.”
As for the Black Sabbath influence, Hetfield feels that it’s so ubiquitous that in this case it seeped into his subconscious, saying: “I don’t think about it, man. I was thinking, ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool. Thank you, Tony Iommi. Or whoever I just channeled. Or Cliff [Burton], whoever it is, thank you. Or thank you guitar for spitting that one out.’ It just happens. I can’t explain it, and I don’t want to know. I am a messenger, a vessel of riffs, and Lars has the spectacular ear of, ‘What was that!? Play it back.’