On July 25, 1983, Metallica released their first album “Kill ’em All” on Megaforce Records.  

The album is referred to as “the one that started it all” no argument here, so in honor of its release, here is my track-by-track review of this classic thrash record. 

Hit the Lights 

This song is still my favourite album opener of any Metallica record. While “lights” is not as anthemic as “Battery” or “Blackened”, the way it builds into the main riff always gets my blood and fists pumping.  

The opening lyric “No life till leather, we’re gonna kick some ass tonight” makes me want to throw on my jacket and take it to the streets. I would not do that in 2022 for obvious reasons, but if we were back in the 1980’s I am there. 

The Four Horsemen 

Once Metallica had parted ways with Dave Mustaine, they reworked this track from a song about a horny gas station attendant into dealing with the four horsemen of the apocalypse. It does not get cooler than that in my book. Both versions of the song sound vastly different and Megadeth’s version triples the tempo, give it a listen if you have not already seen what I mean. 

Metallica still performs this cut regularly, albeit a condensed version and the middle gallop section can make you feel just like a horseman too. I will neither confirm nor deny that my friends and I would air-ride horses during that part in my earlier years, but I digress. Check out performances from the Black Album Tour to see something unique that Lars would do in the breakdown. 

Motorbreath 

The drum intro sets us down the track for a fast-tempo song that perfectly blends Hetfield’s love for the road/cars and some poignant lyrics, “Living and dying, laughing and crying, once you have seen it, you’ll never be the same”. Look at Metallica getting all philosophical on us so early into their careers, it is not just mindless metal. 

Jump in the Fire 

What would an ’80s metal album be without an ode to the Prince of Darkness and that is exactly what the band gives us on this track. This was the second single released from the record in early 1984, and the stylized devil figure designed for its release remains popular to this day, we can see its likeness on patches and resin figures 

While the main riff has Mustaine written all over it, it is Hammett’s solo on this track that is the high point. It is one of the more subdued on the record, but it is still highly effective. 

(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth 

While I would rank this song as my least favourite Metallica cut, I respect not only the performance from Cliff Burton but how the band took the risk and featured an instrumental on the album. It showed even back then Metallica just did not care what people thought. 

Whiplash 

If you have been following Metallica’s exploits on their current tour, you will see they dusted off this classic to open their shows with. It is fast, it is furious, and the lyrics are from the future. When Hetfield screams “We’ll never stop, we’ll never quit, ’cause we’re Metallica” you sense that bravado in his voice and in the band’s performance, 40 years later and it looks like it remains true. 

Do a search on youtube to see the treatment Jason Newstead used to give this track. 

Phantom Lord 

Metallica checks off another ’80s metal cliche on this track with a song focused on a supernatural warlord bent on world domination. The main riff of this one is quite magnificent and powerful, although the rhythm track Hetfield plays under the solo is a tad awkward. The acoustic break in the back half of the track and riff buildup more than make up for the awkwardness.  

No Remorse 

Buckle up for a musical journey on this track. If you close your eyes, you will get the sense that you are during a battle. Metallica does an excellent job of utilizing several different tempo changes and deploying an array of riffs that carry us from our headphones to the middle of an all-out assault. 

The stand-out moment on this track for me is just after Hetfield screams “Attack!”, you will just have to listen to hear what I mean. 

Seek and Destroy 

One of Metallica’s most popular and accessible songs. To date “Seek” has been played 1,612 times. The band debuted the track in July of ’82 and its most recent performance was on July 8, 2022, you know any song with that kind of longevity must stomp. The highlight of this song for me is the solo section. 

Metal Militia  

Metallica closes out their first album with a call-to-arms. Behind the veiled lyrics of suicides, virgins, and harlots, is a message of what being part of the metal community is all about. I find Hetfield’s voice to be pushing the limits on this one, but other than that this track is extremely pummeling.  

The build-up on the back end of the song is easily one of the album highlights for me, it feels like my ears are being used as punching bags and it is glorious. It is safe to say by the end of this album you will feel “The metallization of your inner soul”.