Heavy metal is a dead genre now but this, Metallica’s debut LP, ushers back in all the imagery of 1980’s doom, gloom and talk show worry talk again every time you hear it. ‘Kill ‘em All’ comprises ten tracks (twelve if you can get your hands on the 1984 rerelease with the Diamondhead and Blitzkrieg covers) that pulsate with a speed/thrash energy not heard since. Perhaps a little dated to younger ears today, there is a lot to enjoy on here. In the speed category we have ‘Hit the Lights’, ‘Motorbreath’ and ‘Jump In the Fire’, while ‘Seek and Destroy’, ‘No Remorse’, ‘Whiplash’ and the masterful ‘The Four Horsemen’ line the forefront of the thrash section. The terrific thing about this album is that its sound hardly betrays the tender ages of its creators (20 years old on average). This was hard, fast, nasty music which combatted well the growing armies of glam-metalheads who were also coming out of L.A. . While not as refined as ‘Ride the Lightning’ or as well produced as ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘Kill ‘em All’ possesses an exceedingly powerful feel (if all bands had a freshman release as killer as this, the record labels wouldn’t know where to put the money!)and if there is any filler (‘Motorbreath’ and ‘Whiplash’ only being the weaker tracks), it has yet to show itself to these ears. There’s also a few extra goodies in here. Apart from being shown the ugly mugs of these good natured lads in their post-pubecent stages, there is the strange ‘Anesthesia – Pulling Teeth’. I don’t like it as a song but I can appreciate why it was included: essentially as a buffer zone between the raunchy power of ‘Jump in the Fire’ and the blind road racing rocker ‘Whiplash’. Also look out for ‘Metal Militia’. Forget its monotony of sound and imagine the marching metal troopers descending upon every aspect of pop culture you never liked and wrecking them to bits. That’s what ‘Kill ‘em All’ meant to me ten years ago when I first found it and, although I only rarely listen to it anymore (why bother when I can play every part of every song using my mind’s own ‘MP3 player’), I would surmise that that meaning still exists to some smaller degree for me today……..
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
The original Metallica: James Hetfield (Vocals, Rhythm Guitar), Cliff Burton (Bass Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums) AND DAVE MUSTAINE (LEAD GUITAR)!!! Most of the leads and riffs you’ll hear on Kill ‘Em All were written by Dave Mustaine which is why the 1st Metallica album sounds more like a Megadeth record than any other Metallica record. Kirk Hammett stepped in admirably to fill Mustaine’s huge shoes but one is only left to wonder, if Mustaine had stayed in Metallica would they be the running joke that they are today? Probably not. Anyway, Kill ‘Em All is a flawless rundown of Metallica classics from The Four Horsemen to Motorbreath to Seek and Destroy, the riffs just keep coming. Of all the Metallica albums, this is the one that I listen to the most. Some critics and fans may say that their subsequent albums (Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning) are better but to me this is the truest representation of what Metallica was meant to be. An absolute must-own classic! P.S. Why would they reissue this album and omit two of it’s strongest tracks (Blitzkrieg and Am I Evil)?!?!?!?!?
Tracks rated 1-10:
1. Hit the Lights (9.5/10)
2. The Four Horsemen (11/10)
3. Motorbreath (9/10)
4. Jump in the Fire (10/10)
5. Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) (9/10)
6. Whiplash (10/10)
7. Phantom Lord (11/10)
8. No Remorse (9.5/10)
9. Seek and Destroy (10/10)
10. Metal Militia (9/10)
I guess I can’t really tell you how much this album rocked when it first came out because I wasn’t even born yet, but that alone should prove that this album has already withstood the test of time. I believe Kill Em All to be a showcase of everything Metallica was about. It is a showcase of talent and rebellion. Hetfield’s Mach 10 rhythm guitar licks are probably what carries the album, but you cannot deny the talent of the rest of the band. Just listen to Burton in “Four Horsemen”, he was a musical genious. Kirk’s solos are just as fast and furious as ever, and Lars always holds it down. The lyrics are top form, as Metallica has always had awesome lyrics. All in all, these elements placed together make what I believe to be a classic debut album. Highly recommended for any metal head.
Well, here it is, kiddies: Metallica’s skull-crushing, bone-breaking, faster-than-the-speed-of-freakin’-light thrash metal debut. This is the one your mother warned you about. This album may cause uncontrollable fits of energy, headbanging, and moshing. Keep out of reach of children. (Give them St. Anguish instead… on second thought, never mind. No one should have to suffer through that…)
What makes this album such a metal classic? The pounding drums and rythyms? The violent cover? The shredding solos and riffs? A 20-year-old James Hetfield’s harsh, unpretty vocals? The controversial cover? Well, yes, of course, but one thing makes it even better (although Master Of Puppets remains my favorite): back when they recorded this album, Metallica were no one. They weren’t the (now self-parodic) juggernaut they would eventually become. They were four lucky fans who got together, played their hearts out, and had the time of their lives doing it. (Check out James Hetfield’s picture on the insert – he has acne!) You can really feel the energy coming from this record.
So, yeah, anyway, if you don’t have this one already, see to it that you obtain it (along with Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets, and, if you like, the black album and …And Justice For All). There are really no standout tracks because they ALL rock. If you can think of a better album to slap My Chemical Romance in the face with, I’d sure like to hear it.
Yeah, it wasn’t all that long ago that they were a little thrash band from the Bay Area…
Metallica’s 1983 debut wasn’t exactly a good representation of them. “Kill `Em All” isn’t nearly as dark as Metallica’s later releases, like “Ride the Lightning.” Plus, this album is a lot faster and thrashier. “Kill `Em All” is the sound of original thrash metal. Now, this band didn’t give birth to speed metal (Motorhead did), but Metallica were the first to release a studio LP. Later in the 1980’s, thrash would become very popular and bands like Anthrax, Testament, and Slayer would crop up.
Since this is the first available album that James, Kirk, Lars, and Cliff played together, it is somewhat immature. James’ vocals are high pitched and some of his lyrics (i.e. “We’ll never stop/we’ll never quit/’cause we’re Metallica!”) are pretty amateur, but it’s interesting to see what Metallica were like 20-some years ago. And “Kill `Em All” is still a very entertaining listen and great thrash. It may not be as brutal or rapid as say Slayer, but it’s very catchy and full of fiery, breakneck-speed, buzzsaw guitar riffs and scorching solos.
1. “Hit the Lights” begins with the guitars slowly fading in, then, after Lars does a little smattering drum pattern, Kirk and James set their fret boards on fire with fast running riffs. This song has an audible, beeping bassline, but the real highlight is the several careening, almost screeching guitar solos.
2. “Four Horsemen” is Metallica’s very first single, and it’s still in regular rotation at radio stations (where I live, at least). It’s not as fast as the first track, but it’s quite catchy. It has an almost galloping beat, at times, and two more long, winding, classical sounding guitar solos.
3. “Motorbreath” begins with a drum intro, and a thumping snare drum runs throughout, but the really fast chugging guitar riffs are what dominate, here.
4. “Jump in the Fire” has more fast, chugging guitar work, but these riffs are different because they’re groove-y and very catchy. Plus, there’s another long, increasingly fast guitar solo near the end.
5. “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” is primarily, just one long solo. But it’s not the work of Kirk or James… it’s a bass solo! Cliff plays low, gluey, rumbling notes which make for a buzzing, beeping, ascending, occasionally wailing and wah-wah solo. A relaxed drum beat kicks in around the 2:40 mark, but Cliff makes this song world renowned among the metal community.
6. “Whiplash” begins with a low thumping of a bass drum, then James and Kirk come aboard and light up this track with “whiplash” speed guitar work and tempo changes. I enjoy how the beat builds to a point, then pauses, and James shouts “Here we go!” Briefly, at the end of this song, it becomes a stop-start beat.
7. “Phantom Lord” has another stop-start rhythm and riffs, and a couple pick slides, but James’ vocals are almost inaudible because they’re drowned out by the guitars. The beat then slows way down, but some heavy riffs and a pair of cascading Hammett solos speed it back up.
8. “No Remorse” is still a staple of Metallica’s live show. It has rhythmic chug and churn riffs and one more, long, wailing guitar solo which makes this song gain density and speed.
9. “Seek & Destroy” has another very famous opening guitar melody, before it turns to crunchy riffs. This song is, musically, fairly repetitive, but it’s still plenty catchy thanks to James’ vocals.
10. “Metal Militia” is highlighted by more insane, rip-roaring guitar work.
So, “Kill `Em All” is a great thrash record and it has great musicianship. Even though it may not be the best representation of Metallica, and it’s not as classic or essential as Metallica’s second and third albums, it’s still a great listen and it is very highly recommend for all metalheads. Plus, this is a very influential, original, and a milestone album, so if you want a complete heavy metal or thrash-metal collection, you definitely need to pick this up.