No life til leather, gonna kick some ass tonight!
That's what the listener is greeted with after the minute long rock and roll intro to Kill 'Em All,
Metallica's first album. Originally titled Metal Up Your Ass, Kill 'Em All refers to the marketing executives at Tallica's then label, Megaforce records, who thought an album titled Metal Up Your Ass wouldn't sell. The album itself serves up 10 slabs of speed metal goodness. If your head doesn't bang to this album, and I mean bang until you hurt, you have no pulse.
The tracks vary from straight forward generic speed like Hit The Lights, and Metal Militia, to Metallica's perfected fast metal groove on such tracks as Motorbreath and the galloping The Four Horsemen. Cheesy metal lyrics can be found on tracks like Phantom lord and Jump In The Fire. Cheese and generics aside, this album kicks your ass from beginning to end. Several tracks on this album would become concert staples. It wouldn't be a Metallica concert if Seek and Destroy, Whiplash or Motorbreath was not played.
The Four Horsemen was originally written when Dave Mustaine, founder of Megadeth, was still a member of the band. It was originally called The Mechanix. A version of the song appears on Megadeth's debut album, "Killing is my business ... And Business is good," wherein the lyrics involve horny gas station attendants rather than biblical warriors as with the Metallica version. The tracks have the same driving riffs, although Megadeth's is played a smidge faster. The Four Horsemen is, as the title suggests, about the biblical four horsemen of the Apocolypse. The galloping is created through the use of triplets, and can be heard on some tracks by Iron Maiden, one of Metallica's many influences.
Motorbreath is one of my favorite songs on the album, and the first song I learned to play on the bass guitar. It features speed riffing along a simple progression that sounds damn cool. The song is about living life how you want to, in the metal lifestyle. Hard hitting with Lars pounding away on the bass drum, it's another concert classic.
As a bassist, I cannot say enough about Cliff Burton, nor Anesthesia. In one take, Cliff busts out an amazing bass solo, expanding the ideas of what one can do with a bass. He slaps on distortion and uses a wah-wah pedal to squeal and groove his way through 4 minutes of bassy goodness. The musical force behind Metallica, Cliff was the only band member that had any formal education in music theory. With 1:46 remaining in the track, Lars joins in with a simple drum pattern, and Cliff goes berserk on his bass, leaving listeners in awe. It was a bass solo that made the band members ditch Ron McGoveney and invite Cliff to join their band.
Whiplash is the definition of metal. It will make you mosh, jump, slam-dance or headbang, there are no exceptions. Musically simplistic, the song focuses on how they're Metallica, they kick ass, they rock out the metal, and you love it. And we do love it. Having been covered by Pantera on their tours after Far Beyond Metal, Whiplash is the pinnacle of metal and the highpoint of this thrash heavy album.
At some concerts, Metallica has been known to stretch Seek and Destroy out to over 16 minutes in length. The intro riff alone will build fire in the eyes of any real metal head, the long haired motherfuckers with the black pants and the tour T-shirt from 8 years ago on their back. The best concert song ever, Tallica extends out the chorus. Jaymz yells "Searching..." and the entire audience yells Seek and Destroy. The only better connection I've ever seen is when they bust out Creeping Death. Nothing is like hearing 70,000 people chant "Die, die, die ..."
The album ends with the fastest song out of the ten, the aptly titled Metal Militia. An ode to their beloved fan base of miscreants, hard rockers, and metalheads. This song was also the inspiration for the BMX group called the Metal Mulisha.
Perhaps the first Classic metal album, Kill 'Em All combines an unmatched ferocity with a love of palm muted downstrokes and blazing guitar and bass solos. It's the prototype for Metallica's later albums, as the only difference between this disc and the two following is the presence of more musical theory in the later discs. The album was originally released with two extra tracks on it, Am I Evil and Blitzkreig, both are cover songs and can be found on Garage Inc. Am I Evil is played in concerts still, and is usually split with either Battery or the ridiculously fast Damage Inc. The album is a must have for any metal fan and is perhaps the best speed metal record of all time.
There are several pressings of Kill 'Em All, all of which have several inconsistencies, most important of which, is the tracklisting. Avalyn brought it to my attention, and further research into www.encycmet.com has discovered the truth. The Megaforce release, released in 1983, has some copies with printed lyrics, and some without. The track listing is split up with the first 6 tracks on side one of the vinyl, and the next 4 on the other. No bonus tracks here. The first Elektra release, catalog number e 1-60766, is the same printing. No bonus tracks here either. However, catalog number 9-60766-1 has the bonus tracks with Blitzkreig as track seven, Am I Evil? as track twelve, and the rest of the order is the same. The bonus tracks can be found on CDs and tapes as well, however, none recently.
Original Track Listing
- Hit The Lights
- The Four Horsemen
- Jump in the Fire
- (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth
- Phantom Lord
- No Remorse
- Seek And Destroy
- Metal Militia
- Am I Evil? (originally track 12 on the LP and tape releases)
- Blitzkrieg (originally track 7 on the LP and tape releases)