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We've Come To Take Your Life - 86%

psychoticnicholai, January 1st, 2018

Ah, the first Metallica album. Kill 'Em All is probably Metallica's most "traditional" sounding album on terms of style. Even though there wasn't much of a tradition back then in heavy music, you had metal, and you had punk, that was it. Subgenres weren't really a thing in the early 80s even though a seasoned rock fan could easily tell a "real" metal album apart from the shiny glam rock of the time. Metallica started off as one of those bands making faster, rawer metal with just a bit of punkish speed to pay homage to their metal idols like Diamond Head and Motorhead while sticking it to the Motley Crues and Quiet Riots of the world. With just that spark of punky rawness, they made one of the prototypical thrash metal albums and a whole bunch of rousing, riff-loaded songs to fill it.

The speed is the first thing you notice on this album. The riffing is choppy and full of youthful vigor courtesy of future Megadeth founder, Dave Mustaine, and James Hetfield's rough shouted vocals add a catchy factor to it. Metallica let you know they're here to go all "metal up your ass" on you from the opening notes of "Hit the Lights" and they keep this speed up throughout the album. You don't quite hit the level of darkness or blistering speed you'd hear on Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets and the music as a whole feels pretty "rock and roll" rather than 100% pure thrashing fury, but thrash is still the main style here, and it was still in its formative years so it had to start somewhere. While still not on overdrive, there's plenty of catchy aggression to be found on here with "The Four Horsemen", "Whiplash", and "No Remorse" being more jagged, resembling the future thrash sound much more. The riffs capitalize on headbanging with their prime mission being to get you to do just that, bang your head, and man do they succeed.

Metallica also show their youth quite a bit on here. The vocal delivery and song structures are still pretty hook-laden despite going against the grain of metal trends at the time. It's clear they had their sights set on rock stardom from day one. James's singing is probably most emblematic of this the way he sometimes howls and shouts for emphasis even while generally being catchy like on "Jump in the Fire" shouting "COME ON!". All the songs are decent, but they aren't straying far from conventional hard rock songwriting, just going much faster than normal, not that there's anything wrong with that, in fact, it's a songwriting style that sticks well. I just find their later efforts more crushing, varied, and creative. This however, is still a great place to start, especially when that added speed makes the riffs and solos all the more thrilling. Especially with how screaming wild the solos all throughout Kill 'Em All are. They're young alright, but off to a good start here.

Metallica applied their speed to the heavy metal stylings they already knew and loved from their influences on Kill 'Em All and helped lay the blueprint for many other nascent thrash bands across the world. It was close to the sound of bands like Diamond Head with a much rougher sound and choppier, more aggressive riffing and a slight punk influence. Metallica wanted to push things faster, harder, and heavier than before, and for the time, it was something new and was one of the first of the bunch when it comes to thrash. There may have been others, but this was swift and definitive enough to deserve its prominence. If you like your Metallica rockin' and catchy, this is a good place to look as the songs I've mentioned previously throughout this review have gone on to be thrash metal essentials. It's a pretty kickass album.