Kirk Hammett Recalls What He Didn’t Really Understand About Metallica’s Early Success: ’I’m Actually Blown Away When I Look Back at It’

Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett looked back on the band’s early days, particularly the band’s first two albums. Since this year marks the 40th anniversary of their debut record “Kill ‘Em All,” Kirk was asked about how he feels about this one and the sophomore album “Ride the Lightning” during his interview for WMMR. Reflecting on the “relationship” that he has with Metallica’s first two albums, Kirk replied (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“Well, when I listen to those tracks, I’m just kind of blown away when I look back. We were all so young, but we had a very clear vision of what we wanted to do, what we wanted to sound like, how we wanted to execute things, the type of songs we wanted to write.”

Metallica: Live in Chicago, Illinois - August 12, 1983 (Full Concert... Mostly)

Going more into the matter, Kirk recalled the early thrash metal scene of the early 1980s and how there was only a handful of bands doing something similar. He continued:

“I mean, for as young as we [were], we all had a collective vision and we knew exactly what we wanted, and what we wanted and what we were chasing was very unique. No one else was — well, very few other bands were chasing that same vision.”

“You know, it was us, it was Slayer, it was Anthrax, it was Megadeth, it was Exodus, it was Overkill, it was Testament. There’s a lot of bands who were chasing that vision, and we all had kind of like the same vision. But what blows me away about it is we’re all around the same age.”

Metallica Metal Hammer Fest 14 09 1985

As Kirk adds, it was all about the community and being supportive of one another. And he’s a bit suspicious of whether there’s anything similar going on these days but we need to bear in mind that it’s really difficult to compare the early 1980s and today. Anyhow, he continued:

“I don’t know if that happens *these* days. You find just a large group of people, a scene where everyone’s just all into the same thing and is supporting each other. And then record companies start going, ‘What’s going on?’ and start getting curious, and next thing you know, all of a sudden there’s a record company in the room and it is signing everyone.”

“And we were all, like, 22, 23 years old. The fact that we got so much done at such a young age just blows me away, because it seems like we had something on our sides — we had some sort of energy, or God was smiling down on us or the universe was pushing us. And thank God, because those two albums, ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and ‘Ride The Lightning’, when they came out, there was *nothing* like it.”

Metallica - CANADA - 9/12/1986 - [FULL SHOW - SBD AUDIO] - TORONTO -

According to Kirk, he’s incredibly proud of these two records. But, as he also adds, the band members kind of “took it for granted” back in the day:

“And I’m really proud of that… I’m actually blown away when I look back at it. When we were making those albums and touring behind them, we just kind of took it for granted. It was just, like, ‘All right, we did that. Let’s go on to the next thing.'”

“We never like sat down and really thought about the accomplishment that we made. And so, 40 years later, I’m able to do that and I’m able to go, ‘Man, we really pulled something off and we were just kind of blasé about it,’ you know?”

Metal Militia (Remastered)

Released in July 1983, “Kill ‘Em All” marked a huge breakthrough for young Metallica that had already gone through some lineup changes before their actual debut record. Famously, Megadeth frontman and leader Dave Mustaine was a member of Metallica and so was Ron McGovney who pretty much abandoned music after his brief stint. Nonetheless, Metallica’s earliest releases featured music that was co-written with Mustaine.

As of this moment, the guys in Metallica are promoting their 11th album “72 Seasons.” Released in mid-April this year, it came with a total of 12 new songs. The band is currently touring North America after their recent European run.

Speaking of which, Kirk Hammett recently got some public attention after a video of him messing up the intro to Metallica’s legendary power ballad “Nothing Else Matters” emerged online. This little guitar-playing incident happened at their New Jersey show on August 4 which was the first one for this year’s North American tour. You can check it out below:


After messing up the clean intro, all while playing his historically important “Greeny” Gibson Les Paul, Hammett smiled and took to the microphone, addressing the full MetLife stadium:

“Okay, it’s the first show…[Laughs] I’m gonna do this intro all over for you guys again. It’s just not good enough for myself, and if it’s not good enough for myself, it’s not good enough for you!”

The band’s next show is bound to take place on August 11 in Montreal, Canada at Stade Olympique. Their current schedule goes all the way to September 29 when they’re planning to play a show at Mexico City.

Metallica: The Black Album in Black & White Q&A with Ross Halfin, Kirk Hammett, & Robert Trujillo

Photo: Raph_PH (Metallica – The O2 – Sunday 22nd October 2017 MetallicaO2221017-93 (37187886214))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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