Metallica – Kill ‘Em All (1988, Elektra Records)
Original Release: 1983, Megaforce Records
1. “Hit the Lights” … 4:17
2. “The Four Horsemen” … 7:08
3. “Motorbreath” … 3:03
4. “Jump in the Fire” … 4:50
5. “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” … 4:27
6. “Whiplash” … 4:06
7. “Phantom Lord” … 4:52
8. “No Remorse” … 6:24
9. “Seek & Destroy” … 6:50
10. “Metal Militia” … 5:05
James Hetfield — Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Kirk Hammett — Lead Guitar
Cliff Burton — Bass, Backing Vocals
Lars Ulrich — Drums, Percussion
Producer: Paul Curcio & Johnny Zazula
My first impression when I heard this album was that I found it pretty funny how young James sounds. He’s practically a baby! No one can dispute this is a heavy metal classic and it’s a very important album for the world of metal just for the fact that it is Metallica’s debut album. That said, they did far better releases throughout the rest of the ’80s as their songwriting became more complex and mature.
There’s an innocent charm and a great sense of purity to Kill ‘Em All though. Metallica was just another metal band at this point, not greedy whiny billionaires meticulously over-analyzing and calculating every album they wrote. Anyway, this album is speed and thrash metal for the sake of speed and thrash metal!
Of course, I can’t say egos weren’t they yet because they were and that is part of what led to Dave Mustaine being kicked out before even getting to record this album with the band. His raging alcohol problem was the major reason for the band giving him the abrupt boot, but Dave himself and others have speculated that given Dave’s natural-born leadership qualities, it just didn’t mesh with the equally headstrong Lars & James. Apparently, Ulrich and Hetfield were willing to co-captain the Good Ship Metallica, but didn’t want a third guy his hands on the steering wheel too. Enter Kirk “Go With the Flow” Hammett as the new lead guitarist just in time to record.
Mustaine’s hand prints are still all over this album with him getting four song credits and original bassist Ron McGovney (who was let go by the band for being too passive) gets one credit. “The Four Horsemen” was based on a Mustaine song called “The Mechanix” with a little altering from Hetfield and Hammett. Dave released a more faithful version simply called “Mechanix” for Megadeth’s debut. Dave says he asked James and Lars to not use ANY of his music for the album, but they deny that claim. Such drama, it’ll never end!
The album was originally released on CD in ’83 by Megaforce, but the band’s longtime label Elektra did a reissue in ’88, which is the version I own. I don’t even have the jewel case or insert for it. I was supposed to be borrowing this album from a friend and in exchange I let him borrow the Black Album. Well, he ended scratching up that album pretty bad and told me I could keep this one as compensation. That was 9 years ago and I still have never replaced that Black Album!
Okay, finally getting back to the music, there are some really great songs on this album but for me some of the weaker songs just kind of blend together. Very good release, but Metallica has done better (and a LOT worse) so it’s not near the top of my grab list when I want to hear some Metallica.
Highlights: “Hit the Lights”, “Motorbreath”, “Jump in the Fire”, “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth”, “Whiplash”, Seek & Destroy”