Metallica, “Kill ‘Em All” Cover

Metallica: Kill 'Em All

Megaforce Records, 1983

My older brother was your classic ‘80s tyrannical older sibling and hesher, (who grew up to be my friend and confidante, thankfully,) who, now that I’m older, I can admit, introduced me to many heavier bands that would construct pathways to find my own taste, and left some lasting favorites, including my personal trifecta of metal: pre-‘90s Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Ozzy-era Black Sabbath. Sure there’s a whole wide world out there, I’m definitely not the most knowledgeable about metal, nor a true metal purist, but these three are formative for me, rhizomatic in their reach to the heavier shit I’m inclined to, when that’s what I’m feeling. This is probably my favorite Metallica LP, their debut record, which was originally supposed to be titled, “Metal Up Your Ass,” before distributors balked at the idea. It is tough to choose a favorite among their first four full-length albums, but as I’m a little more inclined to punk rhythms, this one always gets me going with its speed and relatively short songs, especially on the first side. My understanding is this is a kind of foundational breakthrough album in the development of Thrash Metal, due to the melding of the classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) slicing riffage, with the tempos of hardcore punk. I also dig that the lyrical content is not weighed down by the gravity and seriousness of its subject matter; they are all lyrics that contain similes and metaphors for rocking the fuck out or just creating mayhem. (“Whiplash” being an exemplar of what I’m talking about here.)

The last few days I’ve alternated this and “Master Of Puppets” in my car, playing them both LOUD just to steel myself for the weird world that exists outside of our homes nowadays, especially with the inevitable tension one can feel in any public space between differing politicized views on a public health crisis, the railroading of a new Supreme Court appointment, and the presidential election. I’m not so cold, nor violent, to advocate for the title of this record wished upon even my worst enemies, but when those lightspeed, driving, “motorbreath” piston-riffs fire in my synapses, I’m imbued with some kind of power that makes me feel impervious to the weak, anti-intellectual, soft minds of those who would rather have us erode our diversity and devolve into some kind of idiocracy of pure selfish consumerist a-cultural primitive existence, and I just laugh at the stupidity of it all, like a young James Hetfield after the last verse of “Seek and Destroy.” And then the closer, “Metal Militia,” annihilates all in its path. Fuck yeah! Metal up your ass! (*This was written on the birthday of my older brother. This one’s for you, Emilio!)

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