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Revisionist History when it comes to Metallica

Kill Em All, Metallica’s first album is celebrating 30 years this month. It was released in July 25, 1983. At the time of its release it didn’t really set the world on fire, however if you look at the reviews and praises the album is getting now, it is like the album came out and created a movement called thrash metal right off the bat.

Let’s put into context the lifespan of Kill Em All. It came out on July 25, 1983. By February 1984, seven months since Kill Em All was released, Metallica was in the studio, writing and recording the Ride The Lightning album. The victory lap of Kill Em All was seven months. That’s it. If the band wanted to have a career, they needed to get back into the studio and record a new album.

Of course when the 1991 Black album exploded, new fans started to dig deep and purchase the bands older material. It is for this reason that the bands older catalogue from Kill Em All to Justice started to get RIAA certifications.

Kill Em All finally reached U.S sales of 3 million units in 1999. That pales in comparison to the Ride The Lightning and Master of Puppets albums which have moved over 6 million units in the U.S alone by 2012. The ..And Justice for All album has moved over 8 million copies in the U.S and the Metallica black album is pushing close to 17 million units sold in the U.S alone by the close of 2012.

As a Metallica fan, the Kill Em All album is not a bad album. It is a product of its time and its era. However in 1983, heavy metal and hard rock music was becoming a force to be reckoned with. So by 1983 standards, Kill Em All was up against some hard competition.

Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Def Leppard had break through albums with Shout At The Devil, You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll and Pyromania.

Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and Dio had new bands and you can call their 1983 releases as comeback albums. Bark At The Moon showcases Jake E.Lee, Lick It Up showcased Vinnie Vincent and Holy Diver showcases Vivian Campbell. In relation to Dio he was continuing his upward trajectory that started with Rainbow, then continued with Black Sabbath and now with his solo band.

ZZ Top hit the mainstream with Eliminator.

Iron Maiden followed up the breakthrough success of their 1982 album, The Number of The Beast with Piece of Mind.

Quiet Riot had a number one album on the back of the Randy Rhoads back story and connection with the band, a cover of Slade’s – Cum on Feel The Noize and a catchy original called Bang Your Head, which was perfect for the time.

Judas Priest was also riding high on the charts and selling well from a 1982 release called Screaming For Vengeance.

Going back to Metallica, the RNR history is written by the winners. Since Metallica is now inducted into the Hall of Fame, everyone that can put fingers to letters on a keyboard is rewriting their back story. Bands like Quiet Riot will be written out. Artists like Vinnie Vincent and Jake E.Lee will be forgotten by the clueless revisionists. The impact of other bands will be diminished because Metallica won.

Is anyone talking about Judas Priest and their impact to the American metal scene? Quiet Riot’s Metal Health was the first American heavy metal debut album to ever reach No. 1 in the United States on the Billboard album charts.

History is written by the winners.

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2 thoughts on “Revisionist History when it comes to Metallica

  1. You are exactly right. Metallica didn’t explode until Sandman. Before then, they were known but not popular. I think they didn’t want to be popular for their style which was basic. They wanted to be known for their sound. That is why hooking up with Bob Rock was so important for them. Because they had not captured their sound on a record prior to the Black Album.

    But you are right, The other bands were much bigger during the 80s. I think that Metallica’s right coincided with the demise of the Hair music. When Nirvana came onto the scene, the flash bands were fading out. But Metallica was making good music and they gathered the fans from the tents of the 80’s rock music.

  2. Yep. Metallica didn’t hit really big until the Black Album, yet there are people claiming Metallica in the 80s were the equivalent of Led Zeppelin in the 70s, which is utterly laughable. Led Zeppelin was possibly the biggest band of that decade in terms of success, Metallica in the 80s wasn’t even the most known band in metal (and maybe not even in the top 5), let alone of the entire musical scene. They were a known name, sure, but that’s about it. Certainly not the behemoth that they were by say, 1993.
    Even in 1991 after the Black Album was already out when they participated in the Monsters of Rock they weren’t headlining (AC/DC were headliners), yet there’s plenty of clueless people who think that that concert in Moscow was “Metallica”.
    By the early 90s they certainly had become the most famous and successful metal band in the world, but in the 80s? No.

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