Kill ’Em All

The stark cover is as menacing as it was when Metallica released its debut record in 1983. The pool of blood. The sledgehammer. The looming shadow of a hand that has just done the unspeakable. Re-released and remastered from the original analog tapes, Kill ’Em All is given new life—available on standard 33 1/3 as well as a deluxe double-45 RPM version (both mastered at half-speed on 180-gram vinyl for you heavy-metal audiophiles). The songs are just as ominous as the album’s sleeve. This is where ’80s American thrash was conceived—birthed by four zit-faced 20-year-olds raised on British metal bands like Motörhead, Venom and Blitzkrieg. But even with its precision and speed, Kill ’Em All still rumbles like a punk record. On songs like “Hit the Lights” and “Metal Militia” (the latter one of the four Dave Mustaine contributions) vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield screams over lightning-fast riffs as his voice threatens to crack. Bassist Cliff Burton’s distorted instrumental, “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth,” still looms large—the song, like the album itself, shows a young band whose raw energy would never be captured quite the same way again on tape.