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Kill Em

Kill Em

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In 1983, when this was unleashed upon the world, Metallica had already built up a huge reputation around the bay area. Word of mouth about the band was buzzing around various cities on the west coast as well. From the onset, it was hinted at that this band would become huge eventually. Overall, Kill Em All doesn't disappoint, the album is just full blown old school thrashing madness, over the 51 minutes that the album spans, there isn't a single boring moment to be found. It's all killer, absolutely no filler! If you want a classic album to rage to look no further! Bang that head that doesn't bang! And because they're the biggest, they're also the most visible and most controversial. Everybody has an opinion on the great dramas of Metallica's career, like how Dave Mustaine is the only good thing that ever happened to them (saying their early era was only good because of his influence is like saying The Courtyard of the Old Residency, Munich is only good because Hitler painted it), or how the commercialization would have never happened if Cliff Burton hadn't tragically died in that bus crash (he was a huge REM fan and wrote many of the melodic parts on Master of Puppets, he would have had no problem with, and in fact probably would have encouraged, a new direction), or how Lars is a wretched fame whore and money snatching gremlin who is a smooth talker but a crappy drummer (well... that one's true). The point is that no metal fan's development went by unblemished by the unmistakable scent of Metallica. They're just ubiquitous and profoundly influential on the development of heavy metal as a whole, and unless you entered the scene via Brenoritvrezorkre and Enbilulugugal, you've heard the first four or five albums at least once.

However, there is no doubt the actual music is very solid thrash. Hit the Lights, despite having the dumbest lyrics I have ever heard (I am tempted to do a dramatic reading of it someday), is a really fun song with crazy soloing, and before you know it, you’re headbanging and punching your lamps. A definite highlight. But think about this: you’re fifty years old and you’re still performing a vanity song you wrote when you were a stupid kid. Honestly I kind of feel bad for them. But that’s their punishment for not releasing a song that their fans have deemed worthy of being played at all of their shows in, say, the second half of their discography, more than twenty years.Elektra of 88 reissue "DMM": Very bright version and it lags on bass because "DMM" process. Still fine material. Released in 1983, this is the album that placed Metallica on the map. It's where Metallica finally got their true style, as their previous demo "No Life 'til Leather" is where they experimented a bit with a variety of sounds. While much better thrash metal albums would come out years later, their debut album still holds up today. This album has some great lyrics in songs like The Fourhorse Men, Jump in the Fire, Seek & Destroy and Phantom Lord. They all speak of some sort of mayhem or pain and devastation. This sets a frenzied mood in the lyrics for the whole album.

The rest of this album is very good - ranging from frantic speed/thrash ("Metal Militia") to more controlled bludgeoning power-metal sound ("The Four Horsemen", "Seek and Destroy"). The opener, "Hit the Lights" (a Tanner/Hetfield Leather Charm song, along with Motorbreath) is probably the best song on here, and "Whiplash" the most ironic (see Destruction's treatment of the song for how it should REALLY be interpreted). The bass just follows suit here, and as a result I don't really notice. Likely the result of Cliff Burton's late joining, as he would not have time to come up with his own, third-guitar style bass lines like on the next two albums. The much contested (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth is Burton's sole credit here, and it is a bit of a double edged sword. It is a very well done, interesting solo that merits a listen. Or two. But I find myself skipping it on repeated listens. No fault on the solo itself, but it is just a bass solo, and I think it should have had parts of it incorporated into a full song as opposed to being just hung out by itself. Especially since Cliff was getting a part of every live gig to do bass solos....Highlights of the album include The Four Horsemen for its galloping rhythm and complex song structure. No Remorse was also great because of its crunching heavy beginning and its high speed thrash section near the end, and Metal Milita had some of the best riffs Metallica had written. Regarding the production, I personally like it very much, a perfectly audible bass and aggressive and dirty guitars just like Hetfield’s voice. Perhaps the drums are the weak point of the production, the drum bass is sometimes difficult to hear, but still it was pretty decent. The album has no ballad as happens in the the following Metallica records, but I don’t think it’s necessary here because the album flows incredibly well because of the combination of aggression and melody which I talked of before. You don’t get bored while you're listening to the album, it’s not monotonous, the songs are very original and worked. They are made with desire to destroy your ears, as Hetfield says: “With all our screaming, we’re gonna rip right through your brain, we got the lethal power, it’s causing you sweet pain”. Lars Ulrich does a fantastic job on drums, his aggressive drumming melds well with Hetfield's rhythm guitar. I never understood the hate for Lars, I have always enjoyed his drumming, especially in the earlier days. Ulrich's drumming sounds especially powerful on Kill Em All, the cymbals are very loud but not too over the top. Overall he does well.

Anyway,brilliant debut,so important in the metal world and the best of Metallica is yet to come in next few years and next three albums.So, what deep, harrowing topics does the songwriting on Kill 'Em All cover? life in the fast lane, and...more life in the fast lane, mostly. Just about every song is about how great it is to live fast, or how great it is to be Metallica, or just how great thrash metal is. And in the end, isn't that the noblest of causes? Metallica’s 1983 groundbreaking debut might be considered the first thrash metal album to many. While I didn’t live those days nor that scene in the flesh, I think thrash metal reached its definitive, purest form in 1984, by Metallica and Slayer’s hands. Of course, there’s no denying Kill ‘Em All was the starting point of thrash metal’s direct evolution. Sure, Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe” or Accept’s “Fast as a Shark” contributed greatly in its formative aesthetics, but they weren’t the finished product. One can certainly argue palm-muted rager “Whiplash” IS the finished product. In fact, the ‘thrashyness’ in this debut LP is dialed up from side A to side B, starting with the aforementioned side A closer. Just like fellow Californian thrash pioneers Slayer, whose own debut was released later in ’83, the flavors of the NWOBHM were still very strong in their formula, but in the case of Kill ‘Em All, one can distinctly realize that the further into the record, the heavier and harsher it becomes. But in fact, that attitude seemed silly even by 1984, when Metallica released Ride the Lightning and pretty much left its youthful naivete behind for good. Yes, Hammett and late bassist Cliff Burton's fascination with comic books and Dungeons and Dragons-style fantasy rears its head on "The Call of Ktulu," but on Ride the Lightning the band no longer comes across like a street gang but like a group of frightened young men using their hellacious sound as a shield against life's unsettling realities. The thing that really strikes you about this album, is the youthful enthusiasm of it all. Unemcumbered by alcoholism, drug addiction, family and all the rest of it, Kill 'Em All scorches by in a dazzling blur of speed. Hetfield's voice is still a screech, rather than the gruff but clean tone of recent years, the songs are barely developed, full of abrupt speed changes, and the solos are in plentiful supply - at least three in 'The Four Horsemen' alone.

The lyrical aspect of this release has nothing really to do with Satanism, just filled however with hatred towards humanity without any compromise in that respect. Hetfield's vocals go well with the music especially the high-end screams. I don't consider this release their best of the 80's I'd say "Ride the Lightning", "Master of Puppets" and "...And Justice for All" were their absolute best releases. However, this was a beginning for the band and showed their awesome potential at such a young age. Overall, an amazing album. The first full length thrash metal album and it kills. Buy this right now if you don’t already own it. Well here it is ladies and gentleman, the album that started thrash! Metallica successfully took NWOBHM and fused it with hardcore punk on their 1983 debut. This album is pure speed throughout, it just doesn't let up! Let's take a look at the album...

The Four Horsemen is another highlight. Since I was introduced to this version before hearing Mechanix, Megadeth’s recording of this song freaks me out. As much as I hate Kill Em All lyrics, at least James isn’t singing about cars as a metaphor for having sex. (Disclaimer: Megadeth is cool and without Dave KEA would be far different.) It’s also the longest song on the album, at only seven minutes. The vocals add to the heaviness with James Hetfield going from whiny vocals reminiscent of the N.W.O.B.H.M. bands they adore and aspired to be like, to gruff and crude barks in the style of Cronos of Venom and Lemmy from Motorhead. Almost every song on this album has the two different styles displayed within the first 2 verses and chorus of each song. The vocals are very well delivered in general. Most phrasing feel comfortable and catchy. The production is rather weak, but what would you expect? So, a fine thrash metal record, all in all, but Metallica improved and released much better albums after this one. Still, a must have for thrash fans, as Kill'em All was one of the pieces that really shaped and created the genre. Hit The Lights,Metal Militia,Phantom Lord,No Remorse....every song on this LP is strong and stood the test of time even 40 years later.Vocal is raw and undeveloped as is Lars drumming,lots of Dave Mustaine in songs and great bass solo by Cliff. Now, we've gotten past the album cover and instrumentation, and the songwriting process is where people get divided. Yes, we all know about Dave Mustaine contributing to some of the songs on the album, and "Mechanix" being renamed "The Four Horsemen" after he was fired from the band, but some of the most CLASSIC metal lyrics are found on this album:

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