You Picked It! Metallica – ‘Kill ‘Em All’ – Album Review

Alright…You Picked It! And this one was a blowout from the word go. It was really down to three choices but 2 weren’t even close. The winner was Metallica’s debut album ‘Kill ‘Em All’ which is one I have actually never heard from beginning to end as I was never in to Metallica until later. Most people couldn’t fathom that fact, but it is true. Here are the results.

  1. Metallica – ‘Kill ‘Em All’ – 15 votes
  2. Journey – ‘Freedom’ – 4 votes
  3. Robin Trower – ‘Twice Removed from Yesterday’ – 3 votes
  4. Hollywood Undead – ‘Swan Song’ – 1 vote
  5. Kris Kristofferson – ‘Kristofferson’ – Sadly, 0 votes

Thanks to all for participating. The September choices will be up on Saturday!


Growing up, I was an 80’s pop/rock kid and in 1983, it was Def Leppard, Kiss, Quiet Riot, Genesis, Billy Idol and bands of that style. Metallica was way too heavy for me and wasn’t melodic enough for my liking. They were never on my radar until the Black album and “Enter Sandman”. However, I never went back and explored their music. I had an opinion of Thrash and it wasn’t for me. So, here we are almost 40 years later and thanks to your vote, I am now trying the debut ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and the first thing I notice is that by today’s standards, it isn’t as heavy as I would’ve thought.

There is so much written on this album so I am not here to give you a lesson on the album on when it was written and stories on each song, nope. You can read all that stuff on the interweb thingy that is out there. This is going to be my impressions of the songs as someone who doesn’t know these songs and hearing them for the first time (several listens now as I’ve spent a couple weeks with the album).

The album opens in grand style with the barrage of drum hits and speed riffing on the guitar and then WHAM! right in to “Hit the Lights”. This is exactly what I expected and it is an assault on the senses (in a good way). I can’t get over how young James Hetfield sounds. Kirk Hammett totally shreds at speeds that aren’t human. Lars Ulrich is pounding away as I don’t know how he still has energy after finishing a song to do another. And Cliff Burton’s bass is the driving force behind everything. A total blast of a song as it is filled with angst and energy, just the way I like it. Yeah, back then this wouldn’t have been for me, but today…it’s pretty awesome.

Then we get to the epic “The Four Horsemen” at over 7 minutes long. Another pounding song, however, this one takes you on a journey through the apocalypse and isn’t a full on speed metal assault thankfully. There is a cool riff throughout that I like a lot and the band really shows their playing chops with this one as there are a lot of instrumental moments. Hammett lays down a great solo that is a little less in your face and shows they can be reserved and play for the song.

“Motorbreath” brings the speed back and it is full of that angst I like (almost a punk like feel). It has that whole verse, chorus, verse back and forth like a normal track. It is short and is there to take no prisoners. More great soloing and more pounding drums, but not sure I like it as much as “Hit the Lights”.

Then they attack you with “Jump in the Fire” which I believe was a single as it is probably the most radio friendly as the chorus, though simple, is relatively catchy. The guitar solo is awesome, however, the song is a little boring as the riff doesn’t change much and not as impressive overall. And things get worse for me as the bass solo “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” does nothing for me. I like the parts where there is more band members included and it is more an instrumental, but the bass only parts are a little dull and lifeless like a Gene Simmons bass solo. The distortion bothers me and it is a very skippable track.

But all is saved with “Whiplash” as it brings back the thrash and punk-like feel I like. It starts off with some pounding drums from Lars and then the speed of the guitars comes in and rips your face off. When the full band joins in, all hell breaks loose. Apparently, I prefer the speed and in your face of these types of songs. And the chorus is not much to it, but it works and works well. “Phantom Lord” is more destructive drumming from Lars…damn he is loud. A great opening guitar riff and more of the same. I like the break where they slow it down and then ram it down your throat again. A nice change of pace and variety in the song.

“No Remorse” is relentless on the guitar speed. The driving rhythm behind it with James and Cliff getting it done. This one feels a little all over the place for me with the constant changes which can be good but for me, it was tough to get in to it. I’m not liking Hetfield’s vocals here either as it is too one dimensional even though he gave a great scream towards the end where it finally got interesting as the tempo changed to warp speed and I started digging it a little more.

Now, “Seek & Destroy” might be the only song I really knew on this album prior to hearing it and I love it. I like the opening riff and it has a nice pacing throughout. Cliff’s bass pops in for some fine moments, but it is Hetfield and Hammett’s guitars that I really like. Even James vocals are good for me on this one. That bridge and chorus are great and memorable. They really pack a punch. And that guitar solo seals the deal for me as well. A totally killer track.

The final track is the blistering “Metal Militia” which might be the heaviest damn song on the album. It is almost abusive in its power and speed. It should be arrested for assault and battery. It has the angst I like, but it is too…well…just too much everything. Plus Hetfield’s vocals are a little shrill for me and a little grating. I do like the heavy, but might be over the top too much for my liking.

There are really four outstanding songs on here for me with “Hit the Lights”, “The Four Horsemen”, “Whiplash” and “Seek & Destroy”. These songs could have me revisit this album in the future as they are that good. There are a couple good songs with “Phantom Lord” and “Motorbreath” and the rest didn’t thrill me that much with the bass solo being my least favorite track. The funny thing for me is how heavy I expected this album to be, but it wasn’t that bad except for “Metal Militia” as that is what I was expecting. Actually it was much better than I expected, but still had its shortcomings for me. My Overall Score is a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars which is still a great score, but not be as high as lot real Metallica fans might rate this one. Since I didn’t hate it, I might start exploring their other albums as I am sure I could put together a pretty great playlist with their songs.

42 thoughts on “You Picked It! Metallica – ‘Kill ‘Em All’ – Album Review

  1. Like you, I listened to this debut in hindsight, although not as late. It was “Master of Puppets” which turned my head to Metallica and though that’s my favourite, “Kill ‘Em All” definitely has its charm.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have applied the “Don’t listen to anything released after 1991” rule to most bands until recently. I eased up on it in no small part thanks to this site.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. The shift towards a dour tone, combined with the need to fill every second of CD space with subpar material has turned me off even some of my favorite bands during this era (Load/Reload was the last straw for Metallica for me, Voodoo Lounge, Slang and Nine Lives for some others). But now, being more mature, it’s great fun to catch up with what I missed and dig for diamonds in the “dirt”.


  2. I bought this on CD decades ago. lol but too be honest I may at some point grab this on vinyl but for me it really starts with Masters of Puppets for me…Some good stuff on here but yeah maybe a revisit at some point…
    Poor Jon Cain lost out on the votes…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice write up.

    Like 80sMetalman it was “Master Of Puppets” that made me a fan however I didn’t get this until the late 80s.

    I would like to add the influence and songwriting of a certain Dave Mustaine on the tracks Four Horsemen, Phantom Lord along with Jump In The Fire and Metal Militia.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that you don’t like “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth”! I love it, and I think the distortion is unique and fits the vibe of having your teeth pulled out lol. I’d rate the album higher than you, but hey, at least you gave it a shot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny ’cause Justice is like the opposite of this album. Very composed and progressive instead of raw and totally unhinged. But the songs are so good!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Never been a big fan of these guys. The odd tune here or there I suppose but never really did much. Tempted to give this one a spin to see Where It All Began. Probably in the car so I can crank it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same, I haven’t either. I like the Black album. I did recently pick up Load and Reload as I found them really cheap (on CD), but there are only a handful of tracks that I really like. I could make a hell of a playlist of the songs I do like though.


      1. Then you are way ahead of me, I still have to figure out if there are any songs on those two which I like at all, aside from the opening tracks. Those damn things are a chore to get through.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So I took a walk and listened to “Kill ’em All.” I’d always thought of them as killer players saddled with second-rate riffs disguised as songs and a lousy singer. I was right. They are not (or at least weren’t) good songwriters. Each song is just some heavy riff with hypercharged playing. They all sounded the same I did come away with a new appreciation of Kirk Hammett and it might be fun to play one of their songs in a band. But a little of them goes a long way and I’m not inclined to listen to much else.


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