Metallica‘s debut album, Kill ‘Em All, is now 40 years old.

Released July 25, 1983, the RIAA triple-Platinum Kill ‘Em All proved to be the first chapter in the career of what would become the biggest band in metal.

Metallica was formed in 1981 by frontman James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. After a few personnel changes, including a stint with future Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine on guitar, Metallica solidified the lineup for Kill ‘Em All with guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Cliff Burton joining Hetfield and Ulrich.

Kill ‘Em All showcased Metallica’s early thrash style and would prove to be a seminal album for the metal sub-genre as it expanded in the ’80s with bands including Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. It also spawned future ‘Tallica classics including “Seek & Destroy” and “Whiplash.”

Metallica would continue to build on their thrash sound with 1984’s Ride the Lightning and 1986’s Master of Puppets. After Burton died in a bus accident later in 1986, Metallica recruited bassist Jason Newsted and released the more proggy …And Justice for All in 1988. They then officially brought metal into the mainstream with the massive Black Album in 1991.

Throughout the ’90s, Metallica’s sound dipped more into hard rock territory with the polarizing Load and Reload, before Newsted left the band in 2001. Leading up to the release of the notorious St. Anger in 2003, which was documented in the 2004 movie Some Kind of Monster, Metallica welcomed new bassist Robert Trujillo.

The foursome of Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Trujillo has stayed intact ever since, producing 2008’s Death Magnetic, 2016’s Hardwired … to Self-Destruct and this year’s 72 Seasons. Metallica will launch a U.S. tour in support of 72 Seasons August 4 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.