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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Metallica - 1983 Kill Em All
Metallica - 1983 Kill Em All

ARTIST: Metallica
ALBUM: Kill Em All
LABEL: Megaforce (USA), Music For Nations (UK)
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1989, Elektra, 9 60766-2, plus many more reissues


LINEUP: James Hetfield - lead vocals, guitars * Kirk Hammett - guitars * Cliff Burton - bass * Lars Ulrich - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hit The Lights * 02 The Four Horsemen * 03 Motorbreath * 04 Jump In The Fire * 05 Pulling Teeth (Anesthesia) * 06 Whiplash * 07 Phantom Lord * 08 No Remorse * 09 Seek And Destroy * 10 Metal Militia


Well what hasn't been written about the early years and history of perhaps the most influential thrash/metal band of the 80's. Wikipedia and Google have probably assembled everything you need to know about Metallica, but we'll add our version too. This includes all the various line-ups through those early years to the singles and all the gigs played around San Francisco during that 1981-1983 period, plus the bands obsession with the NWOBHM movement, and Lars Ulrich fanboi dedication to the band Diamondhead. Yes, we had the Dave Mustaine and Ron McGovney input as well, but by 1983, both those blokes had departed. We all know what Mustaine did, Megadeth being his baby right up until current day, while replacement Kirk Hammett was recruited from Exodus, his background being a guitar disciple of Joe Satriani a familiar story to all. Signed to Megaforce, the label sent the band away to upstate New York (Rochester) to record 'Kill 'Em All' (originally to be titled 'Metal Up Your Ass' until a wisened soul from Megaforce suggested an appropriate change.. err hmm..). Over a period of two months, the album was produced by Paul Curcio, who also has worked with local band Uttaro in the past. As it turned out, 'Kill 'Em All' would propel Metallica from out of the local Frisco leagues into continental metal heroes within the space of three years.

The Songs
Was the U.S thrash metal scene conceived by this album? Looking around the 1982-1983 landscape I am hard pressed to find any other suitors. Sure, each region (such as Texas, New York, Chicago, Seattle etc) had their own scene, but there wasn't one single up and coming band nationwide that could compete with Metallica at this early point, probably with the exception of Slayer and Anthrax. Metallica actually took metal in a new direction altogether as the intervening years would show. As for the songs, some of these were heard on earlier editions such as singles and compilation LP's such as Metal Massacre. The opener 'Hit The Lights' had been heard in numerous formats prior to 1983 and is probably one of their oldest songs. Hetfield bringing it in from his previous band Leather Charm from 1981. You gotta love the choppy axework on 'The Four Horsemen', with lyrics the equal of Iron Maiden's apocalyptical tomes. At 7 plus minutes, there's a lot to absorb. 'Motorbreath' is powered along in suitable fashion, while 'Jump In The Fire' is one of the band's most recognisable songs from this early period. Pulling Teeth (Anaesthesia)' is a weird instrumental that seems like an no-thought-was-given add-on to the album. Back to the real deal is 'Whiplash', which is a tune all about the merits of headbanging, and was the first single taken from the album. It's 4 minutes of full-on bombast. Continuing the assault, 'Phantom Lord' features some scorching guitarwork from Hammett and Hetfield while the metronome never takes a back seat. 'No Remorse' is a more straight-ahead rocker with attributes similar to traditional heavy metal bands. Another staple of Metallica's discography is the ever-popular 'Seek And Destroy' featuring chugging guitar work and James Hetfield's vocal overkill. Finishing the album in true thrash style, 'Metal Militia' by now has landed Metallica well and truly on the map!

In Summary
The album made it to #120 on the Billboard charts, not a true indication of their underground presence and popularity among America's youth. Eventually the album would go triple platinum but only after a few years in circulation. The significance of this album is not lost despite the tide of history having passed. By the end of the 80's, 'Kill 'Em All' was ranked number 35 on Rolling Stone's list of The 100 Greatest Albums of the '80s, while Kerrang! had it at number 29 among their '100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time'. The band would reconvene for the impressive 'Ride The Lightning' album the following year.

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#1 | reyno-roxx on March 31 2013 11:41:19
I felt the production let this album down. The demo tapes were a bit more solid.
#2 | tompa on March 31 2013 14:16:26
Like so many of the other Heavy Metal-releases I liked from the 80's, I can barely listen to stuff like this these days. Still remember the feeling I had when I heard it the first time, though. Revolutionary.
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