"Hit The Lights" - An auspicious opening to their legendary debut, the song appeared in a rougher form on the Metal Massacre 1 compilation before either Cliff Burton or Kirk Hammett joined. A great opener for the band's early live shows, lyrically the song is immature by present day Metallica standards and is now rarely performed.
"The Four Horsemen" - The original version of this Metallica epic was called "Mechanix," co-written by original guitarist Dave Mustaine and appears on Megadeth's debut "Killing Is My Business ...And Business Is Good."
"Motorbreath" - This thrash classic was rumored to be inspired by cocaine, but is actually about being a loyal fan of the band's music.
"Jump In The Fire" - From the perspective of the devil, James sings of how easily people give in to temptations. Released as both a 12" single and limited edition picture disc with the Devil looming large in a pit of flames.
"(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth" - Supposedly written by original bassist Ron McGovney, this bass solo was adopted and augmented by Cliff Burton and would become his trademark.
"Whiplash" - This headbanging anthem, titled after what over-zealot fans often experience the morning after a concert, is still a major part of the band's live set.
"Phantom Lord" - The song that begins side-two of the vinyl version of Kill Em All, is the arrogant war cry of a mythical heavy metal creature. The most musically mature song on the album, it hints at where the band's sound would head.
"No Remorse" - Metallica's first anti-war song, it talks of people who go off to war for the sake of killing; gutless and numb to the pain of their victims.
"Seek & Destroy" - During the band's current concerts, with vocals now handled by Jason, this song is part of the audience participation portion of the show. Fans lucky enough to be at the front of the stage or in the Snake Pit are given the chance to emulate their heroes by chiming in with the song's title, while Hetfield holds the microphone and judges each attempt.
"Metal Militia" - Co-written by Hetfield, Ulrich, and Mustaine, the album's closing track is a call to arms song for metalheads
Ride The Lightning
"Fight Fire With Fire" - Acoustic guitar turns into a full-on thrash assault in this song of revenge and Armageddon, a common topic among metal bands of that era
"Ride The Lightning" - An epic that graphically details death by electrocution, written by Lars, James, Cliff, and Dave, who has often said that he tried to teach James the song's famous, intricate guitar break without success.
"For Whom The Bell Tolls" - Driven by Cliff's bass, this war song was inspired by a film of the same name.
"Fade To Black" - The band's first ballad, it's about the grim contemplation and execution of suicide. Although anti-final solution, the song has been singled out, with Ozzy Osbourne's "Suicide Solution." The band maintains that they have received letters from fans who were dissuaded from taking their lives by the song.
"Trapped Under Ice" - This nightmarish epic uses a person simultaneously drowning and freezing to death to symbolize a person living zombie-like, burnt out and perhaps a drug addict
"Escape" - The story of an absolute loner, it is the album's shortest song at 4:33, hinting at the style the band would eventually embrace.
"Creeping Death" - Classic Metallica, although parts of this song is borrowed from the rarely heard song "Dying By His Hand." The lyrics to Metallica's version are based on the film "The Ten Commandments" more so than the Bible.
"The Call Of Ktulu" - With lead bass by Cliff, this song was inspired by the Necronomicon and H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Originally called "When Hell Freezes Over."
Master Of Puppets
"Master Of Puppets" - A classic epic of the horrors of drug dependency.
"The Thing That Should Not Be" - Another song based on horror author H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos and his classic short story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth."
"Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" - The band's second ballad, this one tells of being forced to be at home in an insane asylum.
"Disposable Heroes" - The band's acclaimed anti-war song that details the struggle of individualism against authority.
"Leper Messiah" - Dave Mustaine claimed he wrote the song's main riff and was not given credit. The matter was settled quietly.
"Orion" - A favorite of the late bassist Cliff Burton, this instrumental that displayed his talents was played at his memorial service in
"Damage, Inc." - This thrashy, fight song spawned a variety of t-shirts, named a few street gangs, and became the title of a comic book.
"Helpless" - The band's second Diamond Head cover, it actually improves on the original.
"The Small Hours" - Arguably the band's most obscure cover, this song was originally recorded by Holocaust in 1983, the same year that saw the release of Kill Em All.
"The Wait" - Metallica's re-working of the Killing Joke classic is much harder and not as "poppy" as the original.
"Crash Course In Brain Surgery" - A cover of the Budgie classic where Jason gets to display his abilities to Metallica fans not familiar with his work on Flotsam & Jetsam's debut, Doomsday For The Deceiver.
"Last Caress / Green Hell" - A duo of contrasting Misfits covers, the first, a morbidly humorous parody of the pop song format, the other, pure hardcore. It all ends with the band's hilarious, but painful, false start of Iron Maiden's "Run To The Hills."
And Justice For All
"Blackened" - After beginning two albums with an acoustic riff, this one starts with high intensity build-up. This song was co-written by Jason, though you wouldn't know it from listening. The sound is so poor, the bass is nearly absent from the mix. It is the band's first ecologically-minded tirade.
"And Justice For All" - The title track is critical of American ideals. Something the band will contradict on its next album.
"Eye Or The Beholder" - Freedom is only as true as you perceive it. Released as a single, its flip-side features a raw run through of Budgie's "Breadfan."
"One" - Metallica's most popular, well-known song, is an anti-war story of a soldier who has lost all his limbs, is deaf, blind, and mute, yet is still alive and aware. After the album's release, fans informed the band of a movie with a similar plot ("Johnny Got His Gun"). Rights to film were purchased by the band for use in their first music video.
"The Shortest Straw" - A song of contemporary blacklisting
"Harvester Of Sorrow" - The story of a drunken and drugged man who torments his family before cracking and murdering them.
"The Frayed Ends Of Sanity" - Its intro lifts the march of the Evil Witch's soldiers from The Wizard Of Oz, which, ironically was also later used by Prince. The song deals with reappearing insanity and the growing inability to distinguish fantasy from reality.
"To Live Is To Die" - Cliff Burton's post-humus contribution is an instrumental that features his poetry, spoken by James, and a riff, which the band composed around. Also, clocking in at 9:48, it is the band's longest epic.
"Dyers Eve" - Rumored to be inspired by
The Black Album
"Enter Sandman" - A nightmarish-lullaby dealing with a child's fear of entering the dreamscape, it was the album's first single and video and also the first of many hits from the record, quickly finding a home in the top thirty.
"Sad But True" - Pure power stomp, its a song of obsessive manipulation.
"Holier Than Thou" - The albums most aggressive song, the song's message is "those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."
"The Unforgiven" - The band's first song to include orchestral instrumentation, it details the life of a person brow-beaten into conforming to society while being denied the chance to be open-minded or creative.
"Wherever I May Roam" - Beginning with an electric sitar, this road song is the edict of a person who is constantly on the go, who never has the chance to plant his roots or settle down in one place. The song's narrator eventually admits that anywhere he pauses is his home
"Don't Tread On Me" - Taking its name from the revolutionary flag that beats the collied snake, it is the album's most controversial track. Its patriotic stance starkly contrasts the anti-Americanism slant of And Justice For All
"Through The Never" - Another frantic track, it's about the never-ending pursuit of knowledge, no matter how unfeasible it may seem in the perpetual universe.
"Nothing Else Matters" - The closest the band has ever come to writing a love song, this ballad is arguably the band's most accomplished song featuring vocal harmonies and strings.
"Of Wolf And Man" - A werewolf song, it symbolizes the hunter who believes he is one with nature.
"The God That Failed" - Bass-driven tirade on people who believe in Christian Science and thus deprive their child of medical attention. It is also a thinly-veiled autobiographical song involving Hetfield's parents.
"My Friend Of Misery" - Outsider view of someone reveling in self-pity and maintaining a pessimistic view of the entire world.
"The Struggle Within" - With a drummer's march intro, the dramatic conclusion of Metallica's fifth album deals with a person suffering from a self-defeating personality.
"Ain't My Bitch" - James is saying "it" ain't his problem and to leave him alone. This song got a lot of attention because of the name and the solo where Kirk uses a slide.
"Until It Sleeps" - This is another song about James' upbringing in Christian Science.
"Mama Said" - Is about leaving your parents for the real world. It is also about taking a mother's love for granted
"Ronnie" - About a man who walks into town and goes on a murderous rampage. Tells of how anyone can become a killer at a moment's notice, and the most unlikely-looking man could be a possible mass-murderer.
"King Nothing" - the song refers to those people who go out and buy the best there is to buy in whatever they think will help them become secure but in the end newer and better things come out and they are left with the task of buying all the new stuff again to be secure. They are crowned King Nothing.
"Cure" - This song is about how everyone has a problem. It tells how everyone looks for the solution (cure) to their problem and no one can get it.
"Fuel" - This song is also drug-related. It deals with druggies who seek to remove the effects of drugs by taking more drugs, which is like quenching ones thirst with gasoline. The druggie craves "fuel" (drugs) for his "fire" (his addiction). Most of the lyrics deal with the effects of the drugs, or the hard time the man has shaking the effects of the drugs.
"The Memory Remains" - About a fallen
"Unfrogiven 2" - Been referred to as their first full on love song, the only song where James uses the 3rd person of a women "...yeah she'll be there when I'm gone, dead sure she'll be there...." It is also about being left out then finding someone to relate to.
"Carpe Diem Baby" - Carpe Diem means, "seize the day" in Latin. The song is basically telling you to live your life, to get in there and grab every opportunity you can
"Where The Wild Things Are" - is about how screwed up the world is today and how today's youth shouldn't just lay down and give up, that they should fight for what they want.
"Low Man's Lyric" - This bittersweet tune seems to be about a homeless person or a criminal, possibly a druggie. He regrets his actions and wants to reform but realizes that he will inevitably go back to his old ways. It is also about a man who is low on his life and doesn't want anyone to feel sorry for, to just let him be....."...maybe you'll understand and won't cry for this man, cuz low man is due....please forgive me."
"Fixxxer" - This song is about child abuse
Frantic - Inspired by Lars fascination about death.
Lyrical Meaning – Regrets from the past. About life and death.
SKOM – About the monster within, all the bad feelings that lie inside of you.
Dirty Window – James projecting his view on himself.
Invisible Kid – Inspired by Kirk Hammett’s childhood.
Lyrical Meaning – About a lonely boy.
My World – About trying to take control of your life.
Shoot Me Again – Songs inspired about Metallica’s battle with Napster
Lyrical Meaning – About the repercussions of fighting for what you believe in.
Sweet Amber – About Alcoholism and revenge.
The Unnamed Feeling – About the feeling of despair and loneliness.
Purify – About moving forward, shedding old skin.
All Whitin My Hands – About loving someone to death.