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Metallica - Kill 'Em All CD (album) cover




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3.46 | 557 ratings

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3 stars In 1983, Metallica was just a modest and unknown band, in love with the aggression of Motorhead and with the speed and complexity of many of the british heavy metal acts, most notably Iron Maiden and Diamond Head. This marriage of styles originated this album, which emerged from an american scene still dominated by glam rock bands.

Although this album is hailed as one of the first thrash metal albums ever released, it doesn't sound like pure thrash metal in my opinion, as all the songs aren't JUST made of speedy guitar work and basic song structures. In fact, there are lots of progressive elements here and there, like tempo changes and breakdowns. The Four Horsemen, Seek and Destroy and the underrated Phantom Lord are examples of that, as they all have amazing middle sections.

The guitar work is the big highlight of the album, as it is excellent and very varied. James and Kirk know how to play fast and aggressive lines but they also know how to play beautiful and calm ones. Almost every song contains a slower part where this is shown. The fantastic middle section of The Four Horsemen is a fine example of the two guitarists playing softer lines and solos. All the riffs are also pretty catchy, especially the first one of Seek and Destroy and the last one of No Remorse. All the solos are extremely well composed but, if you want to listen to the best guitar solos Kirk ever played, get the ...And Justice For All album.

The bass and drums are both very solid. There is a long bass solo on the record (Anesthesia) but, at least in my opinion, it is very uninteresting and even boring. However, I love the bass lines on The Four Horsemen and on the heavier part of No Remorse. There is also a little drum solo in the beginning of Motorbreath (pretty simple, if you ask me) but the drum work is far from amazing on this record. However, it isn't horrible and awful (like many reviewers stated). It is just simple and solid. Lars isn't a pure thrash metal drummer, as he doesn't use the double bass frequently and prefers to play other types of patterns. If I'm not wrong, The Four Horsemen is the only Kill'em All song where he uses double bass.

As I've already said, many songs don't follow a basic structure. The opener, Hit the Lights (a song composed when Hetfield was playing on a band called Leather Charm) is an exception, being pretty simple, with a verse-chorus-solo-chorus-solo structure. The lyrics of this songs are just stupid; in fact, almost every song has stupid and laughable lyrics. They are, undoubtely, one of the low points of this record. Just read:

With all out screaming We are gonna rip right through brain We got the lethal power It is causing you sweet pain on sweet pain When we start to rock We never want to stop again

Thunder and lighting the gods Take revenge Senseless destruction Victims of fury are covardly now Running for safety Stabbing the harlot to pay for her sins Leaving the virgin Suicide running as if it were free Ripping and tearing

The first excerpt, which is very POETIC, is on the first track and the other one is on the last song of the record, Metal Militia. James Hetfield improved a lot as a lyricist later on.

When we reach the chorus of Hit the Lights, we reach the other big problem of Kill'em All: the vocals... They are awful. Now I understand why the band wanted to hire John Bush to be their vocalist. Hetfield really sounds horrible on this record. Just listen to him screaming the chorus of Jump in the Fire... Disgusting! He would improve a lot on this field lately, too.

Now, I'll name some of the better tracks of the record.

The best one has to be The Four Horsemen, originally written by Dave Mustaine. He would release this track on the first Megadeth album, but under a different title (Mechanix). After Mustaine left the band, Metallica took the song and added a breakdown; in my opinion, and thanks to this breakdown, The Four Horsemen turns out to be even better than The Mechanix. The first three minutes of the song are mid-paced and pretty heavy, but then, at 3:30, there is an absolutely marvelous transition, and calm guitar lines are played, accompanied by some interesting bass ones. After that, Kirk plays the best guitar solo of the record, one of my favourite Metallica solos. It is just amazing. Then the tune becomes heavier and after a repetition of the chorus, the track ends.

Two other stand-outs are Phantom Lord and Whiplash, two fast and aggressive tunes. Whiplash is an authentic classic and one of the fastest Metallica songs. On other hand, Phantom Lord is one of the most underrated thrash songs ever. It is very aggressive and raw too. Those two songs are among the most important thrash metal songs ever as they have certainly influenced a LOT of new bands.

The track 8 is called No Remorse and it is also a very good song. It is the result of the combination of two other Leather Charm songs (Let's Go Rock and Roll and Handsome Randsom); it's very easy to see this, as the track has clearly two sections, a midpaced one, on the beginning, and a pure thrash metal one, on the ending. However, the song is a bit overlong, because of the existence of too many guitar solos.

Seek and Destroy is another highlight with a catchy chorus and a fast middle section. Metal Militia ends the album, being a decent thrash metal song.

Jump in the Fire is the worst track in my opinion, because it is very, very repetitive.

So, this is a very interesting debut. It has influenced many, many bands and gave form to a new genre: thrash metal. There are some weak tracks here and there, like Jump in the Fire, Motorbreath and the pointless Anesthesia, but there are some brilliant songs here too. A classic metal album that I highly recommend. However, don't expect a masterpiece, Metallica released much better albums after this one.

One last word to the production, which is simply amazing if you bear in mind that, in 1983, Metallica was an unknown band. My only complaint about the production is the fact that the bass drums are barely audible, but it isn't so bad.

Nhorf | 3/5 |


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