Metallica - Kill 'em All
Where did thrash metal begin? It certainly wasn't on Metallica's debut, but I think this is where it started to really build up the momentum it would need to compete with the hair metal fad of the 80's. The history of Kill 'Em All, and early Metallica, cannot be told without mentioning the influence of one Dave Mustaine, and much of the music here should be credited to him. You can only imagine what direction the band might have taken had he stayed in the fold, but as it is, KEA was a launching point for a band that expertly wielded it's influences and made a sound all their own.
What stands out most about KEA in comparison to later albums is how firmly rooted in punk mentality it is. Metallica was always influenced by this movement, and would later go on to record tribute covers to cement the fact. But rarely has an entire album embodied this than on KEA. Songs like "Motorbreath" and "Metal Militia" are strong blasts of punkish metal, rugged and energenic. On the other side of the same coin, Metallica was already showing an uncanny ear for grabbing hooks and melodies. "Jump In The Fire" and "Seek and Destroy" are perfect examples, songs that are no doubt metal but at the same time offer up doses of classic rock-inspired guitar noodling and radio-friendly hooks, meshing elements of several genres into a format for a more popular version of heavy metal. While bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were already spreading their NWOBHM, Metallica was adjusting the sound to fit a more widespread audience. Not to say that they're any better for it, only that they pretty easily adopted the sound as their own, threw it into the mix, and the results were quite phenomenal for the time of this album.
There are still many things to be said about early Metallica, in comparison to the Metallica we know today. The musical ingenuity seemed to go hand-in-hand with their youth, before stardom took hold and the band made a collective change towards a more defined but less inspired sound. Cliff Burton (RIP) seemed to have an underlying influence, beyond his frantic and talented bass playing. But, as much as we may pine for what once was, it can never be again. For anyone who thinks Metallica are just a cash machine, take a little trip back in time with Kill 'Em All and catch a glimpse of a band who were, for a time, American Metal's forerunners.
(Editor's Note: Many may disagree with my putting this album in the vault, but if you do a little research, you will realize that this album was influential on a level that at least equals anything they've done since. There may be one more vaulted Metallica album in the future...but which that will be is going to be an even tougher decision...)
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on 2011-04-12 dscanland Said:
True. You don't really think of Metallica as punk but Kill 'em All really had the punk mentality. If you listen to some of New York hardcore albums you would find this album being firmly rooted in their influences. I still like to throw on KEA and play my air guitar to it. I think I would class this as my favorite Metallica album. Possibly Justice a close second.