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Metallica - Kill 'Em All CD (album) cover




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3.39 | 447 ratings

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3 stars No Life Till Leather

It's interesting to read some of the thoughts of metalheads on the Metallica debut. Some praise it as the righteous father of thrash and prog-metal, while others laugh at this notion, one guy noting that any real thrash riffs on this album were already tired and dated by the time it dropped. Others seem to hate Metallica for bring non-metalheads snooping into the metal scene, where we praise this and a few high profile bands as if we actually understand their scene. I won't do that nor will I pretend any deep insight as I was not a true metalhead who dug beyond the surface too much.

In the mid 80s my high school friends who loved metal and hard rock did embrace those glorious first three Metallica albums as the antidote to crap like Ratt and Def Leppard, and all the rest of the terribly lame 80s hair metal. There was some purity and authenticity to this band. We found a local band who covered Metallica songs and played them better than Metallica, who we realized were actually pretty average as a live band. There was a certain new energy here not provided by older bands like Sabbath or Maiden and we started to cover some of these songs in our own rag-tag band.

The most appealing musical aspect here all these years later is the low-fi DIY sounding production, which some see as a negative. Actually it's what makes the album. It was recorded in just two weeks, something today's Metallica could never achieve to save their lives. This alone speaks volumes about a band's purpose and necessity. The simplicity and the almost punkish energy to the tracks is really invigorating. Highlights include the anthemic, surging "Hit the Lights" and "The Four Horsemen." Horsemen is really the track that brings the biggest smile, such a fantastic combination of chords and crunch, and some really nice variation with the different sections of the song. "Pulling Teeth" is Burton doing some bass soloing which gives a little hint to future aspiration for more elaborate stuff. I love the absolute break-neck speed of the "No Remorse" riff contrasting with the much more subtle and slower pacing of "Seek and Destroy." While all of the tracks are not of great level individually, especially by today's standards, the overall body of work is cohesive and consistent.

While the band would certainly refine and expand on future work, the youth and grit of this one make it a special recording to me. It stands alone as the Metallica spirit I recall most fondly, even if I must acknowledge the maturing superiority of MoP. The album cover's menacing hammer is perfect for conveying this spirit, even if we all have our own ideas over who most deserves the hammer. Kill Em may have been the father of thrash or not, that's up to the experts. For me in 2010 it serves as therapy for rage as well as some good clean fun.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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