Kill 'Em All

Metallica - Kill 'Em All

Kill 'Em All is the debut album by Metallica. It was recorded in only two weeks on a small budget. Only 1500 copies were initially printed, but it has now been certified 3x Multi-Platinum by the RIAA, selling over 3 million copies in the U.S. alone.

Impact Edit

Released in 1983, the record's release set the band on the path to "world domination," as drummer Lars Ulrich would put it in the following year.[1]

The album is acclaimed for combining high-tempo (discounting the Cliff Burton bass solo "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth") and a tribute to the band's early influences: Diamond Head, Iron Maiden, Motörhead and Venom, all English bands who combined the heaviness and technicality of Black Sabbath with the speed and aggression of punk rock.

The Mustaine factor Edit

Metallica's original lineup featured James Hetfield (guitar/vocals), Lars Ulrich (drums), Ron McGovney (bass) and Dave Mustaine (lead guitar/vocals). Due to tensions between McGovney and Mustaine, McGovney left the band. Castro Valley-born bassist Cliff Burton was recruited as a replacement.

Mustaine and Hetfield had personality conflicts, with Mustaine later blaming the rivalry on the fact that "there was too much personality" in the band.[2] These tensions led to a fist-fight that broke out between Mustaine and Hetfield, [3] after Mustaine accused Hetfield of kicking his dog. [4]

Despite their differences, Mustaine's contribution to the early years of Metallica were not completely neglected; he received co-writing credits on four of the songs in Kill 'Em All. One song, "The Four Horsemen" was originally written by Mustaine and titled "The Mechanix". It was performed at many early Metallica shows.

Following Mustaine's exit, replacement lead guitarist Kirk Hammett added a mid-paced, melodic middle section. Hetfield also wrote new lyrics and the band renamed it The Four Horsemen. Mustaine kept the faster paced original version of the song, renamed it simply "Mechanix", and included it on the first Megadeth album, Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!. Mustaine's other writing credits on Kill 'Em All are for the songs "Jump in the Fire", "Phantom Lord" and "Metal Militia". Mustaine claims he had asked the other members not to use music he had written; Hetfield and Ulrich dispute this. [1]

Mustaine was fired in early 1983, just prior to the recording of Kill 'Em All. Hetfield and Ulrich stated that they fired Dave because of his alcohol problem. Mustaine initially denied this, but in Metallica's 2004 movie Some Kind of Monster, Mustaine stated that he wished Metallica had told him to go to AA. After Mustaine's departure, Metallica recruited Kirk Hammett, Exodus guitarist and one-time student of Joe Satriani. The band started recording Kill 'Em All with Hammett barely a month after his joining. Mustaine went on to form the band Megadeth, who also achieved multi-million selling success.

Album title Edit

The band initially planned to title the album Metal Up Your Ass, and it would boast a cover featuring a toilet bowl with a hand clutching a dagger emerging from it. However, Megaforce urged them to change this,[5] and they agreed, switching to Kill 'Em All. This time the cover featured the shadow of a hand letting go of a bloodied sledgehammer. Cliff Burton is credited with coming up with the name Kill 'Em All (referring to timid record distributors) as a response to the whole situation.[6]

Reception and awards Edit

  • In 1989, the album was ranked #35 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Albums of the 80's.
  • The album would reach #120 on the charts, according to
  • The album was deemed the #1 underground album by Hit Parader
  • Q (Summer/01, p.127) - 5 stars out of 5 - "Reaffirms their status as the pre-eminent metal band of the modern era....combining the power of classic rock with the raw speed and DIY attitude of punk. Thrash metal had arrived."

Track listing Edit

  1. "Hit the Lights" - 4:17
  2. "The Four Horsemen" - 7:13
  3. "Motorbreath" - 3:08
  4. "Jump in the Fire" - 4:42
  5. "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth" - 4:15
  6. "Whiplash" - 4:10
  7. "Phantom Lord" - 5:02
  8. "No Remorse" - 6:26
  9. "Seek & Destroy" - 6:55
  10. "Metal Militia" - 5:10

Bonus tracks (1988 Elektra reissue) Edit

  1. "Am I Evil?" (Diamond Head cover) - 7:50
  2. "Blitzkrieg" (Blitzkrieg cover) - 3:36


  • Paul Curcio; Jon Zazula – producers
  • Chris Bubacz – engineer
  • Alex Perialas (first pressing; credited as "Alex Perialis"); Bob Ludwig (all other releases) – mastering
  • George Marino – remastering
  • Andy Wroblewski – assistant engineer

References Edit

  1. As stated in Metallica: In Their Own Words
  2. as stated in Metallica: In Their Own Words
  3. "Hammer Time (Script error)", Guitar World: 70, February 2008 
  4. "Hammer Time (Script error)", Guitar World: 70, February 2008 
  5. ENCYCLOPEDIA METALLICA - Complete history
  6. "Hammer Time", Guitar World, February 2008

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