Metallica - Kill 'Em All
Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.
NWOBHM infused Thrash Metal
12 songs (62:46)
Release year: 1983
Metallica, Elektra
Reviewed by Shane

Kill ‘Em All...The album that introduced Metallica to the world and metal was never the same. Being that this was Metallica’s first release, it pretty much goes without saying that this album is rawer and less mature lyrically and musically than their subsequent releases. It’s similar to Helloween’s Walls of Jericho in those aspects, as well as with the fact that with their next few albums, the band builds on, polishes and perfects their brand of metal. Kill ‘Em All is NWOBHM infused with Thrash and while this in itself was not quite revolutionary, as it is clear that Metallica borrows heavily from their influences, what makes Kill ‘Em All a classic is the fact that no band had done this so well, especially on their debut album. It wasn’t long before Metallica’s influences would be eating Metallica’s dust. At this point, it is clear that Metallica had potential and with their next two releases, that potential was realised and Metallica was elevated past the point of great band status to metal legends. Yes, this is the album that started it all.

The album begins with a flurry of guitars and crashing cymbals and pounding drums. Once the first riff is played, the madness begins and does not let up for the entire album. Hit the Lights is a great introduction to Metallica’s mission statement….to Kill ‘Em All! James Hetfield’s purposely out of sync multi-tracked vocals sound raw, aggressive and in some places, extremely raspy and screechy. I love his vocals on this album and they are pure thrash. Hit the Light’s is a non-stop adrenaline fest and since I wrote this review while listening to it, it was hard to stop head banging enough to actually write! It’s an awesome track.

The Metallica classic, The Four Horsemen is next and this song really deserves no introduction. The galloping riffs and drums are unmistakable, as when you hear them you know that “The Horsemen are drawing nearer, on leather steeds they ride, come to take your life”. Dave Mustaine, another man that needs no introduction, was in Metallica at the time and helped co-write this song. He exercised his right to use the riff on a Megadeth song called Mechanix on Megadeth's debut album Killing is My Business … and Business is Good. The Four Horsemen blows that song out of the water and in my opinion, should have sole ownership of that signature riff. The Four Horseman a perfect mix and is a perfect example of Metallica’s NWOBHM infused thrash metal. I dare you not to like this song.

Motorbreath is next and this thrashy track is about living life in the fast lane so needless to say, this track oozes energy. While Motorbreath isn’t exactly of the calibre of The Four Horsemen, it would still be one of the best songs on most other bands releases. As it stands on Kill ‘Em All, it is merely an average number.

With Jump in the Fire Metallica went with something a little less thrashy and more catchy and perhaps more commercial. The results aren’t as strong as one would hope. This is one of the lamer songs on the album but then again, it is important to remember that nothing on Kill’ Em All sucks completely. This song is still certainly headbangeable, especially the end when the tempo picks up.

(Anesthesia) – Pulling Teeth is a Cliff Burton bass solo. The heavily distorted bass solo is awesome and is a perfect prelude to Whiplash. While it is not technically amazing, I have never heard a bass guitar sound this cool before. It manages to be raw and aggressive, yet still retains groove and I believe that’s where the talent lies in this solo. I know it’s redundant to say it but Cliff was the man and Metallica has never been quite the same without him. I especially love the part before the drums kick in where Cliff makes the bass sound like a tornado of energy. When the drums do kick in, Cliff shows his groove and delivers the perfect licks at the perfect time. Like I said before, this solo introduced the mother of all headbanging anthems and an undisputed Metallica classic, Whiplash. The main riff is punishing and unrelenting and played at breakneck speed. The song has a few tempo changes here and there but they serve to make the thrashy parts seem more thrashy. I am going to try and refrain from commenting on the state of “new Metallica” in this review, as I made my feelings more than clear in my And Justice For All review but I have to mention that I still get a tear in my eye when James screams “But we will never stop, we will never quit, cause we are Metallica”. I, like many, believed him.

Phantom Lord is one of the most underrated Metallica songs of all time. It’s got a great riff, and Dave Mustaine’s influences are all over this song, as impromptu shredding solos bust out of seemingly no where. At the end of the song when James screams “Fall to your knees and bow to the Phantom Lord”, he has never sounded so rugged and so cool. This song is a classic. No Remorse follows and this song, like Motorbreath, is good but not great. A few spots on this album are not timeless and seem a bit dated and even cheesy. I believe the chorus of this song is guilty of this as I have come to expect more from Metallica but maybe this is an unfair judgement since this is their first album. The end of the song kicks ass as soon as the tempo picks up.

Seek and Destroy is another Metallica classic. They slow it down a bit for this song and sacrifice speed for a plodding, yet extremely catchy riff. Where Jump in the Fire fails, this song succeeds. This song is extremely repetitive but that doesn’t matter when the repetitive parts kick ass. Metal Militia follows and while it is still a good song, it has the same problems of No Remorse, namely it seems to be a bit dated lyrically and thematically. Still a great thrashy number though. On most versions of Kill ‘Em All this song ends the album. Not on mine, as I was lucky enough to buy this album before Metallica removed their cover of Diamond Head’s Am I Evil? and Blitzkrieg’s self titled track Blitzkrieg from the album so that they could sucker you into buying Garage Inc. Do not settle for any version of Kill ‘Em All that is without these tracks, as they truly complete the album. Though Metallica didn’t write these songs, they made them their own and they fit in perfectly on this album. Honestly, these songs do not sound out of place what so ever on Kill ‘Em All, especially Am I Evil?, which proves exactly how much Metallica borrowed from Diamond Head's style.

No matter what Metallica does in the future, they can not change the past. Kill ‘Em All is a vital and crucial part of metals history, as it is a fist pumping, head banging introduction to a band that would perfect the art of heavy metal and forever change the metal landscape by influencing countless others to follow.

Killing Songs :
Hit the Lights, The Four Horsemen, (Anesthesia)-pulling teeth, Whiplash, Phantom Lord, Seek & Destroy, Am I Evil?
Shane quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Metallica that we have reviewed:
Metallica - Hardwired... To Self-Destruct reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Metallica - Ride the Lightning reviewed by Adam and quoted CLASSIC
Metallica - Reload reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 62 / 100
Metallica - The Videos 1989-2004 DVD reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Metallica - Some Kind Of Monster DVD reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
To see all 15 reviews click here
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