photo & text by nacrowe
KILL 'EM ALL (MEGAFORCE, 1983) is just fun. it is not the most polished, accomplished or sophisticated METALLICA record, but it is the most enjoyable. i think part of that is the fact that it was a recording that had everything to do with the lifestyle of the then burgeoning THRASH METAL scene, from the opener "HIT THE LIGHTS" to "WHIPLASH," "NO REMORSE," "MOTORBEATH" and "SEEK & DESTROY." those songs are all about the ethos of going out and unapologetically slaying the competition and your audiences with the power of METAL. alright, yes that lyrical conceit describes any number of JUDAS PRIEST songs of the same era but there is a certain hungry street-level desperation in these songs. they are immediate and precise, almost a RAMONES meets MOTORHEAD kind of vibe.
after KILL 'EM ALL the band understandably grew into and eventually expanded their sound on THRASH METAL classics like RIDE THE LIGHTNING (MEGAFORCE, 1984), MASTER OF PUPPETS (ELEKTRA, 1986) and ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (ELEKTRA, 1988), but this is the one record in their catalogue that has that spit-in-you-eye, devil-may-care, lay-it-all-on-the-line sense of abandon. it also has some gnarly riffs like "JUMP IN THE FIRE" and "THE FOUR HORSEMAN" courtesy of DAVE MUSTAINE, who was famously dismissed before the recording and replaced by KIRK HAMMETT of EXODUS.
another standout track is "ANESTHESIA (PULLING TEETH)" by bassist CLIFF BURTON which displays his impressive compositional chops which would pay dividends on subsequent records. you really got the sense with BURTON that he was a student of his craft and took it very seriously, and this track is early evidence of such.
ultimately this a great record of a band exploding its way out of the gate. most definitely required listening for fans of THRASH METAL or really any METAL genre in general since this is such a pivotal record and longtime fan favorite.