Metallica
Kill 'Em All


3.5
great

Review

by Pedro B. USER (303 Reviews)
June 1st, 2006 | 920 replies


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist


Ahhh, to be 18 and naive. Nearly 20 years before they even heard of Napster, Metallica were just an up-and-coming thrash metal band trying to make it big in the jam-packed, dog-eat-dog scene of San Francisco’s Bay Area. After releasing a couple of self-financed EPs, and firing original members Dave Mustaine and Ron McGovney, the four dudes in ‘Tallica set out for their first big adventure: the release of a full-length album.

And so James Hetfield (18), Lars Ulrich (18), Kirk Hammett (19) and Cliff Burton (19) were signed to indie thrash mogul Megaforce records (later home to Testament or Exodus), and in a few weeks recorded their debut, Kill ‘Em All. Slowly but steadily, the album grew on thrash fans around America, and eventually became the first of many successes for one of the world’s biggest bands. 23 years later, it still proudly stands its ground.

Kill ‘Em All comprises 10 songs, some of which were taken from previous band demos (Hit The Lights, The Four Horsemen). It is, therefore, unsurprising to find Dave Mustaine credited as co-author in some of them. The sound on offer is, of course, thrash metal, with very prominent punk/core influences. The riffs are mostly fast and shredding, the drums often go for a double-bass approach, and James Hetfield’s voice is shouty and aggressive. However, even as early in their career as this, Metallica already showed the will to be something more than just your average thrash metal band. Songs like the seven-minute epic The Four Horsemen or the whacky Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) stray a little from the no-life-til-leather, let’s-f***ing-thrash posture of the rest of the album. Not that these songs are soft; far from it, in fact. But they show some variation, and strive to include different sections and details within the same song.

However, the best moments on the album are those in which the band devote themselves to full-blown, out-and-out thrash. With their sound sitting somewhere in between early death metal and classical heaviness, songs like Jump In The Fire, Metal Militia or Seek And Destroy became huge hits, and are requested on the band’s concerts to this day. In fact, this album has contributed at least two famous riffs to the Metal Hall of Fame: the harmony at the beginning of Seek and Destroy and the crushing midtempo riff of The Four Horsemen. These are the kind of riffs any informed metal fan will hum upon mere mention of the song in question.

But to every upside, there must be a downside. In this case, the band fail to keep the same level of quality on every song in the album. Although different, Anesthesia is quite boring, consisting basically of a convoluted Cliff Burton bass solo, with some guitar and drums thrown in towards the end. As for Phantom Lord and No Remorse, they’re purely filler, creating a two-song low point towards the end of the album. In fact, Kill ‘Em All suffers from a strange particularity: the whole is actually worse than the sum of the parts. That’s right, if you play the songs on this album in a different order, or if you skip your way around the tracklist, you’ll actually enjoy the album more than if you just listen to it in one go. I have made this experience, as have a few of my friends, and the results confirm my statement.

Before I conclude this article, I must also mention the album’s terribly outdated production. The bass and drums sound is fine, but some of the guitar work comes across exceedingly thin, and the voice is buried too deep into the mix, causing a perceived lack of punch. Oddly enough, the successive remasters this album has been subject to throughout the years have done nothing to improve its sound quality, which is still a major quirk among ‘Tallica fans. But then again, what would this album sound like with a production make-over? Would it still sounds as pure, as honest, as...raw? Maybe not.

All things considered, it would be unfair to bash Kill ‘Em All. Sure, it’s primitive, it’s flawed, and so on. But above all, it is the sound of a band growing, trying to find their place in an equally growing music scene. By 1984’s Ride The Lightning, all the elements were in place, and the band were set for a long, illustrious career. This, like Sepultura’s Morbid Visions or Nirvana’s Bleach, remains a document of their infancy, of the time before they were spoken of the world over.

Recommended Tracks

Motorbreath
Jump In The Fire
Seek And Destroy
Metal Militia



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Fade.To.Black
June 1st 2006


85 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What order do you listen to The album in? Fair Reveiw as well.This Message Edited On 06.01.06

ReturnToRock
June 1st 2006


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i always put seek and destroy and metal militia first, then jump in the fire, motrobreath, hit the lights, then all the others.

MyRamona
June 1st 2006


1090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh man, no mention of Whiplash or Hit the lights??? They're the best thrash tracks on here. Good review but it lacked detail in places.

rockdog311
June 1st 2006


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Please don't blasphem the rock gods. How many snotty nosed 18 year olds will there be in this genre that people will still be talking about in another 20 years.
My guess is, they'll probably still be talking about the same ones we are right now!
I do agree with the advice on playing the songs out of order, but you forgot horseman!!

met65
June 1st 2006


105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

You also forgot No Remorse, dude!


pattern_recognition
June 1st 2006


950 Comments


No, he mentioned No Remorse.
Last time I saw them live, they played Hit The Lights and it was the fucking coolest thing I've ever seen...
This is a classic. I more or less agree with you, but I'd have given it a 4. Jump In The Fire is just so cool.

ReturnToRock
June 1st 2006


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yea it is.

but the album (played in order) is worth a 3,5.

out of order it would maybe be a 4.

Diabulus in musica
June 1st 2006


485 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I totally disagree with youre recommended tracks, for me those tracks are: Phantom Lord, Whiplash, The Four Horsemen and Metal Militia, other than that, cool review, i like a lot these album

Confessed2005
June 1st 2006


3314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is a great thrash album. Favourite songs have to be The Four Horsemen, Jump In The Fire and Metal Militia.

Mathias HIMSELF
June 1st 2006


161 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

anethesia made me start bass.... thanks cliff ;)

metallicaman8
June 1st 2006


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent album. Good review. I hope it's the last review, though. I think this albums been reviewed enough.

Bron-Yr-Aur
June 1st 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Bah... I can't stand this album anymore. Nice review anyway.This Message Edited On 06.01.06

metallicaman8
June 1st 2006


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Is it perhaps the vocals that are turning you away from this album?

Mathias HIMSELF
June 1st 2006


161 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

haha i recall the comment "Hetfield sounds like a horse with a sore throat"This Message Edited On 06.01.06

SCREAM!
June 1st 2006


10388 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I really like most of Metallica. But i cant stand the vocals on here

Digging: Svartidau?i - Flesh Cathedral

Hatshepsut
June 1st 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Meh. This album is ok.

Mathias HIMSELF
June 1st 2006


161 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It wasnt about the vocals i think, it was a statement, kinda like punk, not nesacarilly impressive technically or musically even, but it wasnt about that

metallicaman8
June 1st 2006


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hmmm....then what persay do you think the statement was? I myself have never payed to much attention to the vocals on this album.

Mathias HIMSELF
June 1st 2006


161 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

-HERE IS THRASH, AND FUCK YOU IF YOU DONT LIKE IT

Mathias HIMSELF
June 1st 2006


161 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

being as this was the start of thrash



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