100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #20 Metallica – Seek & Destroy

Released : 1983

Released a couple of years ago in demo form on the No Life ‘Til Leather EP, Seek & Destroy was still an obvious work in progress. On it singer James Hetfield’s voice doesn’t yet have that mendacious grain, theatrical reverb giving it an unfamiliar, showy quality; it’s also slower and shorter than the final cut that would eventually appear on Metallica’s debut album Kill ‘ Em All.

If the earlier version was as they admitted still influenced by groups from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal – Saxon and Diamondhead were mentioned – toggling between the two shows a lightspeed revolution in terms of growing focus and ability. By Kill ‘Em All Metallica were already heavy. Some way before the term thrash would be coined in an Anthrax review, their world was already quite clearly a darker, denser and more paranoid one that the self limiting denim-beer-and-chicks existence their Limey counterparts were selling. And it rocked.

Seek & Destroy is an old song we can’t misplace as it remains a staple of the band’s set almost four decades on, but it’s worth revisiting, partly for the thinly veiled PTSD in the mind of the song’s protagonist as he spends the night singling out victims, but also because, as has always been true, Metallica’s controlled aggression is both unique and yet to be surpassed. It turned out everyone’s had a life after leather, unless you ran into the wrong guy after dark.

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