Sunday, March 18, 2018

Metallica - Kill 'em All (1983)

No matter who you talk to, old or young, everyone knows Metallica, and everyone certainly has an opinion about them too. Arguably the biggest metal band to ever exist, the legendary group from Los Angeles has had quite a career with multiple ups and downs, and the whole world is surely watching every time they make headlines. But every band has a start, and back in the early stages of the 80's, the group was not nearly as prolific, even if that would change as soon as the debut record was released.

The debut was meant to be called "Metal Up Your Ass", but the band was forced to change it to "Kill 'em All", officially going from a "Dropping the soap in prison" title, to something more "Motif for a super villain". It is still kind of a daring title for its time, and it certainly caught the attention of young teenager who searched for the toughest music available. Fortunately for them, the title does encapsulate the sound fairly well, a fast and muddy brawler that was as fast as punk, but had the technical riffing of the NWoBHM movement.

Listening to it today though, one cannot get away from the fact that "Kill 'em All" sounds more like a Megadeth record than a Metallica one, and there are good reasons for that. Dave Mustaine is the original guitarist of the band, but was kicked out for his drug and alcohol issues, eventually replaced by Kirk Hammett. While Dave was no longer a member of Metallica when the debut rolled out, his mark was still there, being credited for 4 out of 10 songs ("The Four Horsemen", "Jump In The Fire", "Phantom Lord" and "Metal Militia"), all of them having the now trademarked Megadeth style, with tons of guitar work, not too much vocals, and a juggernaut mind set.

While Mustaine did not contribute with the remaining 6 songs, most of them followed along in a similar fashion. Songs like "Hit The Lights", "Whiplash", and "No Remorse" are all really fast tunes that did not take any prisoners, just pure primitive bangers that instantly hits the right nerves. I especially love "Whiplash" just for how simple it is in its execution, and that it is the overwhelming speed that does the talking. "Hit The Lights" also have a similar strategy, but it pounds you with solo after solo until you get dizzy. Those with an allergy for guitar wanking should stay away.

Despite there being so many bangers on this record, I kind of hate that the only song from "Kill 'em All" that is still a main stay in the band's live setlist is "Seek & Destroy". It is an okay song, but it is dull as hell when compared to the rest, feeling like a slightly heavier version of AC/DC. It does have an exciting solo, but that is it, the rest of the track does not have the fire like the other 9 songs. It is slightly better than the bass instrumental "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth" (sorry Cliff), but it is also the only song it beats.

The grittiness of "Kill 'em All" is ultimately its strongest point, because it brings out the band's personality at the time in a way you barely can do anymore. So while it has a lot of dirt under its fingernails, "Kill 'em All" is a very enjoyable debut record with a lot of bite to it, a young band that burst through your speakers in a very impactful way. It laid the foundation on one of the most successful careers in metal history, cementing an impressive legacy from the very start. It certainly killed the opposition, close to all of them.

Songs worthy of recognition: Whiplash, Hit The Lights, The Four Horsemen, Jump In The Fire

Rating: 8,5/10 Phantom Lords

More reviews of Metallica
Ride The Lightning
Master of Puppets
...And Justice For All
St. Anger
Death Magnetic
Hardwired... To Self-Destruct

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