I love finding weird little compact discs in places where you wouldn't expect to find them. I've mentioned before a company that I worked for, that has now closed down, where I would often find and buy cheap discount albums. One of which that I came across was Metallica The Early Days. It's tracks that are listed as being live recordings, and in a sense they are. The album's introduction also claims the members playing on these recordings are the band's four original members, Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Dave Mustain, and Ron McGovney.
Let me start by saying the production on this album is pretty much non existent. It was a live demo recording. There's no production. It's the band playing and it being recorded. That is it. However, to hear the original line up is cool, and to see how little they changed at the core by the time they were recorded as Kill 'Em All, makes it that much more impressive.
This album is labled as having eight tracks, but it only has seven. The Introduction that was mentioned above is actually on Hit The Lights which starts the album. I like the purpose this song serves, but the production kills it on here.
I love Seek And Destroy, and I'm even cool with the version on here. It's clearly an early version, but it totally nails the song home. I love the way they use Seek And Destroy in the start of the Some Kind Of Monster Documentary, to show the passage of time with the band. If I were making an audio copy I would start with this version.
When it comes to Motorbreath I so prefer a Live Shit: Binge And Purge James voice. I hate the high pitch squeals on this track. The sound of those vocals makes the song sound like a bit of a joke about teenage Metal bands, which is what they were, but that's not the point.
There are some Metallica songs I have just never cared for, and Phantom Lord is one of them. It's a good song, but it's to a-typical Heavy Metal for their sound at the time. "Sound is ripping through your ears / The deafening sound of metal nears / Your bodies waiting for his whips / The taste of leather on your lips / Hear the cry of War / Louder than before / With his sword in hand / to control the land / Crushing metal strikes / on this frightening night / Fall onto your knees / For the Phantom Lord / Victims falling under chains / You hear them crying dying pains / The fists of terrors breaking through / Now there's nothing you can do / Hear the cry of War / Louder than before / With his sword in hand / to control the land / Crushing metal strikes / on this frightening night / Fall onto your knees / For the Phantom Lord / The leather armies have prevailed / The Phantom Lord has never failed / Smoke is lifting from the ground / The rising volume metal sound / Hear the cry of War / Louder than before / With his sword in hand / to control the land / Crushing metal strikes / on this frightening night / Fall onto your knees / For the Phantom Lord / Fall to your knees / and bow to the Phantom Lord", just doesn't work for the modern Lords Of Heavy Metal.
The Mechanix is the song that became The Four Horsemen. The alternate lyrics to this song are diggable as a different band playing it. I've always enjoyed the Dave Mustain variation with Megadeth, and this would clearly be the demo to that song. When it comes to Metallica's variation this song is a cool early prototype, like the alternate lyrics to Fuel you can find from live recordings prior to Reload coming out. Also on certain singles.
When it comes to Jump In The Fire they benefitted from Cliff Burton being on the bass on Kill 'Em All, but they lose out by not having Mustaine. Go listen to a version on Youtube from him and make sure one of them if from the thirtieth anniversary show. This version shows a dumbed down (sorry that's not a nice way to put it) bass line, that's way too far forward in the mix.
Like other tracks before this Metal Militia is one of those songs I just don't really dig. It's okay, but it brings down Kill 'Em All, and I hate that it's a closer on this album. Totally wrecks it for me.
I would rate the production as one, but you can hear the bass pretty clear and the guitars do pop, when they aren't totally blended into each other, there's also some drums in there. The vocals can be heard very clearly. That's it. The rest is garbage.
This is an album that you pick up as a fan of the band, and listen to it maybe once or twice a decade. Well, I think I do once every five years, normally in the fall, and then I tuck it away for who knows how long.
Fans only should buy this album. You could give it to a fan as a gift, but it's a collectors gift, not a throw it on and rock it out gift.
5/10 - content
3/10 - production
5/10 - personal bias