Even for a band as successful as Metallica, there are diehard fans that will tell you that their track record is anything but stellar. For every album that knocks you out of your seat like Master of Puppets, there’s records like St. Anger and Lulu where you just scratch your head and wonder what the hell happened.
There are definitely strong opinions hurled at every single release the band has made, but two band members actually have their own reservations about the very beginning of the band’s recorded output.
Although Lars Ulrich isn’t one to normally talk down any of Metallica’s projects, he’s admitted that he does not have many strong feelings towards the band’s debut Kill Em All, saying “It sounds like a very long time ago, a lot of youthful energy on that one. But I’m very at ease with the past.”
It’s not like he’s wrong either, since the band sound like a baby version of themselves and James Hetfield’s range sounds a lot more high-end than the guttural sound that we would get used to on the next few albums.
Lars isn’t the only one who doesn’t look back glowingly on the final version of the record. When being interviewed for Gibson, Kirk Hammett talked about how slapdash the whole recording process was, saying: “we had to rush through a lot of stuff.
We only had three weeks. There’s all sorts of mistakes on that album that we couldn’t really do anything about it. There’s a lot of those guitar solos that I wish I could do over, but it was ‘okay, done, next one.’ And I’m like, wait, I got to fix something.”
In 2008 he’d mirror the regretful sentiment to Music Radar, saying:
“That’s why there’s such a drastic sonic difference between Kill ‘Em All and Ride The Lightning. There are also things that we would have liked to have fixed or re-recorded, but we couldn’t because we just basically ran out of time.”
For all of the “blemishes” that they think are on the album though, Kirk is still at least proud to have worked on it, saying “When I think about it, it gives the album personality and I heard a track from it a few days ago, and I thought ‘we were just going for it.’
We had pretty high standards for what we were doing back then, but we didn’t have the resources to do anything about it until the next record.”
Then again, if this is the rough patches version of what Metallica sounds like, it’s still been leaving its stamp on metal history to this day. And if this is what time constraints did to the first record, just imagine what it would have sounded like if the band had more time to work on it.