Posted on by Oran

The album that started it all! Metallica’s infamous ‘Kill em All’ has just turned 36 years old and without a doubt deserves a revisit. 

Bang that head that doesn’t bang.” – R. Burch ‘83

Thus reads the quote on the back sleeve of Metallica’s debut album Kill ‘Em All, which was released on July 25th, 1983.

On this day, thirty six years ago, July 25, 1983, Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All was released to an unsuspecting public, not knowing that this band would become the biggest metal band, and one of the all-time best-selling musical acts in history.

It stands as one of the earliest documents of thrash metal, a pivotal album that explored artistic extremes and set the foundational archetypes of thrash as a sound, image, and lifestyle.

At a time in heavy music when record labels were starting to embrace super-produced glam-metal bands that would go on to dominate radio and MTV for the remainder of the decade, Metallica literally said: “Metal up your ass.”

The bands original line-up featured James Hetfield (rhythm guitar/vocals), Lars Ulrich (drums), Ron McGovney (bass), and Dave Mustaine (lead guitar). Because of tensions with Mustaine, McGovney left the band.

Castro Valley-born bassist Cliff Burton (pic below) was recruited as his replacement.

Mustaine was fired in April 1983 for his drug and alcohol problems, overly aggressive behavior, and clashes with bandmates.

After Mustaine’s departure, Metallica recruited Kirk Hammett, who previously played for Exodus and was a one time student of Joe Satriani. The band started recording the album with Hammett barely a month later.

Hammett’s guitar solos on the album were partially based on Mustaine’s original solos (the first four bars of most solos were written by Mustaine). After Mustaine was fired, he went on to form the band Megadeth, which also achieved multi-million selling success.

Did you know…

[1] The album title was originally going to be called ‘Metal Up Your Ass‘.

The band’s then label, Megaforce urged them to change it, after distributors and international labels refused to put out the obscene cover. The design eventually became an iconic Metallica t-shirt.

[2] Megadeth’s frontman, Dave Mustaine was kicked out of Metallica just one month before the recording of “Kill em ALL“.

The volatile history between Mustaine and Metallica has been a very well-documented that saw a lot of dirty laundry get rinsed in the public eye.

Mustaine still got songwriting credits on four of the tracks on the album: “Jump in the Fire”, “Phantom Lord,” “Metal Militia” and “The Four Horsemen,” which was originally titled “The Mechanix,” and actually released under that moniker with Mustaine’s next band, Megadeth.

[3] Kirk Hammett had just one month re-write all of Mustaine’s solos.

Hammett re-writing Mustaine’s solos infuriated Mustaine and caused him to hold a grudge for many years thinking that Hammett got famous on solos that Mustaine wrote.

[4] To date, “Kill em All‘ has sold over 3 million copies.

The album was certified triple-platinum in 1999 and will no doubt be certified quadruple platinum any day now.

Kill ‘Em All is regarded as a groundbreaking album for thrash metal because of its precise musicianship, which fuses new wave of British heavy metal riffs with hardcore punk tempos and without a doubt, change the face of heavy music going forward.

Oran O’Beirne 2019