Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All” Turns Thirty (1983-2013)

This has been a pretty good year for Metal Music Milestone’s that are hitting the thirty year mark and hopefully you remember that I only recently used this blog category to toast the debut by Ronnie James Dio with his “Holy Diver” (if not you can click that title and be brought right to it). Now it’s time to let loose the kudos, the applause, the raising of the horns and a resounding battle cry of “Metal Up Your Ass!” as we toast the fact that Metallica’s debut release “Kill ‘Em All” has reached its third decade. Yep. The Thrash Metal classic was released on this day thirty years ago and what a wild ride it has been for the band since that eventually historic day.

Looking back on the release when it first came out, I will admit to you all that I was NOT a fan of this kind of Metal in any sense of the word when I first heard it. Some of my cabal of Metal companions were immediately taken by it but to think back on my own first taste of Metallica it came from the track “Whiplash” which was presented on some kind of Metal compilation that I owned. That makes me also think that I need to dig up that LP from the crypts of stuff that I have acquired over the years to see if it’s of any decent value ? Now before you question my overall “Metalness”, let me set the record straight and say that I was still blasting Manowar’s “Battle Hymns” and Maiden’s “Number Of The Beast” along with Sabbath’s “Live Evil” because they were still fresh in everyone’s Metal minds having only been released the year before. I was jamming drums with friends around this time and many of them were into these “new guys” who were coming out of the Bay Area and forming a movement of this sound called Thrash Metal. Granted I also loved the “Metal On Metal” recording by Anvil but I relegated that to more of a Speed Metal than anything else and the thrashy and chaotic sounds of what Metallica was doing was just not my cup of tea. Yet. More on this later.

These friends and I would all regularly convene in one of the apartments of our group and blast this kind of stuff until the wee hours and yes before you ask, would also consume copious amounts of beer along with it. They all liked to yell the words to the songs at the top of their lungs and for me it was just too “much”. Of course over time the constant hearing of it started finding me more and more into the heavier style and I was moving in this direction with my own music as well. Eventually I would start playing “Hit The Lights” in one of my bands but I would not own a Metallica album until “Master Of Puppets” was released a few years later. I was made a copy of the first two albums on cassette by one of the group. Now to consider which songs were favorites from the eventually appreciated album I would immediately say that “The Four Horsemen”, “Seek And Destroy” and the aforementioned “Hit The Lights” were the tunes I wanted to hear played again and again. Yes I ended up liking a couple of more but let me leave this part a little brief. This was the dawning of a newer breed of Metal and it was quickly felt across the country and would build up masses of support faster than it was believed possible. Kudos for the musical ideas brought to the fore by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton and Kirk Hammett. Of course Metallica’s own origin story had the talents of Ron McGovney and Dave Mustaine as a part of their original formula but for the earliest recorded works it was those four alone. As you might already know Mustaine would go on to form Megadeth and build his own legend going forward.

Thirty years later this album still remains a vital piece of Metal work and while the band has gone through some stylistic transitions and a couple of other bass players since Burton’s sad passing, there are moments on “Kill Em All” that bring you back to the first time that you heard it. I am surprised we have not found some kind of special edition release for the album to honor this anniversary as we have seen happen with some of our previous Judas Priest and Twisted Sister album toasts but maybe in the not too distant future so the band can keep educating the younger fans of the world and reminding us old folks of why we are proud to be Metal heads for so many years and sticking with it. 2013 finds Metallica as a part of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, running their own festival event and even having their own pinball machine. It’s safe to say things have gone well for them.

Track Listing:
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

Official Website:

Now I should apologize for this becoming more of a personal reflection on my first go at the album as opposed to offering up chart positions and the like. I guess I just went on a tangent and let the words fly how they wanted to. That being said, I welcome the same from any of you readers about the album. I would love to hear about it from your own recollections. The comments are open for you to do so. Here’s a link to the original release on if your own musical library still needs a copy, or perhaps you want to send it as a gift to the unschooled Metal fan.

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