Today marks the 34th birthday for one of thrash metal’s greatest albums: Metallica’s 1983 debut classic, Kill ‘Em All. The album needs no introduction–Dave Mustaine gets kicked from the band… Kirk Hammett comes in… controversey…. great songs–and has stood the test of time and set the tone for the entire industry. Many imitators followed, but none (to this day) matched the fresh mix of ferocity and speed Kill ‘Em All presented.
Let’s take a look at the tracks:
Hit The Lights — The song that introduced the world to Metallica. Starting with a montage of drums and noise before giving way to an Iron Maiden-on-steroids line, this track is still a live staple in Metallica’s setlists.
The Forse Horsemen — Yes, Dave Mustaine wrote it and recorded it faster on Megadeth’s debut album as The Mechanix, but it lacked the ‘it’ factor brought by Metallica. They settled the main riff in at a steady tempo before breaking down into a slower, melodic solo section. Personally, this is one of my all-time favorite Metallica tracks.
Motorbreath — Another relentless, balls-to-the-wall thrasher, Motorbreath powers through with the very essence of the album: speed, howls, and blasting kick drums. It’s fast, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jump In The Fire — “JUMP IN THE FI-YAH!” If you ask me, this track is where James Hetfield began carving out his voice. His now trademark barks and growls became instantly recognizable–as did his exceptional lead guitar playing. This track features some of the best guitar work on the whole album.
Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) — This song needs little analyzation. A legendary bass solo from a legendary bass player in Cliff Burton. Gone too soon, but never forgotten. The track will live on in metalhead eardrums forever.
Whiplash — What if we go faster? I figure that’s what the boys in Metallica were thinking when they wrote Whiplash, a blistering track–while simple–that never lets up. It also features the lines: “Life out here is raw/but we’ll never stop / we’ll never quit / ’cause we’re Metallica!” Awesome.
Phantom Lord — A bit slower, but no less heavy, Phantom Lord is another quintessential track on Kill ‘Em All. The riff is catchy, the drums punch through the mix, and the solo coming out of the slow section is a real face-melter.
No Remorse — Coolest song title on the album? Coolest song, period? Possibly! No remorse is a long one, clocking in at six-and-a-half minutes, but holds a steady chug for basically the entire song. There are some great choruses on Kill ‘Em All, including No Remorse, and of course…
Seek And Destroy — “Searching… SEEK AND DESTROY!” A true Metallica classic, Seek And Destroy has survived the years and proven itself in every live show. The intro riff is iconic, as is the absolutely insane guitar solo that even Kirk Hammett can’t replicate. Not much more needs to be said.
Metal Militia — Finally we reach the closer, which following two of the album’s longest tracks, is a shorter, faster ride. I always feel a bit let down by Metal Militia… probably because it has the impossible task of following up Seek And Destroy!
In summation, Kill ‘Em All is a classic.