Sunday, 13 December 2009

CD Review: Kill'Em All, by Metallica (1983)

A raw, underground, rushed album that announced the emergence of the band that would go on to redefine the world of heavy metal.

Recorded in two weeks, barely produced, and with an initial release of just 1,500 copies, Kill'Em All benefits from its unpolished energy. With 10 tracks recorded in about 14 days, not much time was spent on finesse and second guessing, and it shows in a good way. This is a young band with a clear vision of where they want to go and what they want to sound like. Lars Ulrich was intent on world domination right from the beginning, and with music like this, not much was going to stand in Metallica's way.

Importing the sound of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to the west coast and adding insane amounts of speed while maintaining control and a snarling punk ethic, Metallica invented something called Thrash and stunned the music world. Kill'Em All is a stunning aural experience with technically impossible guitar solos delivered cleanly by Kirk Hammett at breakneck speed in each and every song, surrounded by powerful tunes and equally strong contributions from Ulrich's drums, Cliff Burton's bass and James Hetfield's raspy, angry vocals.

Four of the songs here are co-written by Dave Mustaine, who had acrimoniously split from the band before recording this CD, and went on to form Megadeth.

Hit the Lights is the perfect introduction to the Metallica. Not the most sophisticated song, but it sets the stage with Hammett's guitar front and centre, announcing with a stark floodlight the band's speed and technical prowess. The Four Horsemen follows and damn if it does not create the image of the horses of doom galloping straight at us.

The other highlights include the instrumental bass showcase (Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth, a track that proves that the bass can indeed make a terrific contribution to heavy metal in the hands of a talented guitarist like Cliff Burton. Whiplash became one of the band's early classics and the perfect headbanging song with its signature manically fast tempo. Seek & Destroy is an all-time metal classic with a riff that is pure unstoppable chugging locomotive power.

There are some songs on Kill'Em All that are for fans of guitar pyrotechnics only, with very weak song structures surrounding Hammett's solos. We'll fully excuse the band for the relative mis-fires like Jump In The Fire, Phantom Lord, and No Remorse, tracks that in terms of songwriting maturity, truly do sound like they are from the catalogue of the local garage band. It's not easy breaking new ground, and these songs represent the dead-ends that Metallica had to discover along the way.


James Hetfield - Guitar
Lars Ulrich - Drums
Kirk Hammett - Guitar
Cliff Burton - Bass

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Hit the Lights - 8
2. The Four Horsemen - 9
3. Motorbreath - 8
4. Jump in the Fire - 6
5. (Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth - 10
6. Whiplash - 10
7. Phantom Lord - 6
8. No Remorse - 6
9. Seek & Destroy - 10 *See Video Below*
10. Metal Militia - 7

Average: 8.00

Executive Producer: Jon Zazula.
Produced by Paul Curcio.
Engineered by Chris Bubacz.

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.

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