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Review: debut album "Kill Em All" by Metallica one of the best heavy metal albums of all time

Updated on November 10, 2017

The back cover for Metallica's debut album

The release of the album Kill Em All is what helped Metallica start their career with such excellence

US heavy metal band Metallica has had a career spanning over three decades. The question that some may be asking is how did the band’s career get off to such an amazing start? One of the reasons is the release of their debut album called Kill em All. The album was released in 1983 and it represents a lot of staccato style riffs, heavy music, and a type of aggression that will leave you amazed and impressed. Metallica is credited with starting the thrash metal movement. Their debut is the best album in their history which they have not been able to top. The original lineup had members Dave Mustaine and Ron Mcgovney. Mustaine would form the band Megadeth after Metallica kicked him out of the band. I feel that Mustaine harmed himself with his erratic behavior and drug and alcohol use. He blamed Kirk Hammett for stealing his job. I think that these behaviors contributed to a decline in Megadeth starting in the mid to late 1990’s. Many will say that Master of Puppets is their finest work. While I respect those views and consider the opinion a legitimate one, I still feel that Kill em All is still their finest work. It has terrific songwriting, great guitar solos, and an aggression that will leave you remembering how these guys started their career. The album features the bass guitar playing of Cliff Burton (1962-1986). His skill and artistry is shown in the instrumental song called Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth). The song consists entirely of bass guitar with some drumming mixed in.

Track Listing for the album Kill Em All

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

A picture of the album Kill Em All (1983)

The album Kill Em All to this day is still outstanding with every single song being at least good!
The album Kill Em All to this day is still outstanding with every single song being at least good!

A Review of Metallica's fantastic debut album Kill Em All

The album is heavy, hard hitting and very technical in nature. The Four Horsemen is similar to the song Mechanix which Dave Mustaine wrote for Megadeth’s debut album. It is one of the best songs in the history of Metallica and features some of the best guitar playing you will hear particularly near the end of the song. The opening song called Hit the Lights is fast and heavy and it is a great way to open up a terrific album. Motorbreath is another excellent fast song. The message in the song is that whatever you want to accomplish in your life, you should do it even if there are people who say that you should not take chances. Those people will miss what life is about. Life is so valuable and precious, why would you not take the chance to do the things that you enjoy? Whiplash represents a point in the career of Metallica that shows how skilled these guys really are. The song has been a favorite at live concerts and former bassist Jason Newsted even sang this song live before. This one is a song that I would listen to a lot as a teenager while I was on vacation. Phantom Lord has an excellent guitar part that is really catchy. It is in the two and a half minute mark as the brilliance of James Hetfield as he shows why he is one of the best guitarists in the music business. There is not even one song on the album that is bad. This album represents Metallica’s finest hour and even though they had just started their career, this was their peak even at that juncture. The strongest songs in the album are The Four Horsemen, Motorbreath, Whiplash, Phantom Lord, No Remorse, and the lightning fast Metal Militia. The other songs in this album are good too. The album gets a 95 out of 100 from this writer. It is not good enough to get a perfect score but it comes pretty close to it.

What happened to Metallica after the release of the album?

Metallica would continue this great start to their career by releasing the solid Ride the Lightning in 1984. They would start to develop a huge following and go on their way to mainstream success when they released Master of Puppets in 1986. Even though the band would lose Cliff Burton to a tragic bus accident in that same year, they would go on to finish the decade of the 1980’s in excellent fashion. They would release the 65 minute plus And Justice for All in 1988. That one was the first album to feature Jason Newsted on bass although the bass guitar for that album is turned down. That album features the classic song called One and the fast Dyers Eve. Between 1983 and 1988, Metallica was perhaps the best US metal band and they even topped Slayer and Exodus. Metallica still is one of the best bands in the music business today. But their debut album is the main reason why their career got off to such a fantastic start.

The song called The Four Horsemen

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The song called Motorbreath

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The song called No Remorse

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Phantom Lord


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