"Seek & Destroy" (live '85, from Cliff 'Em All)

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"Seek & Destroy" has long been a metal security blanket for me. Hand me a guitar, ask me to play Metallica, and I'll likely play its opening riff. As one of Metallica's easier-to-play songs, it's ingrained in my fingers. I'm better at playing "Seek & Destroy" than tying my shoes.

But despite being Kill 'Em All's big anthem, it's still an odd bird. That opening riff is in A sort-of Phrygian, then descends down a non sequitur of a blues figure into a chugging riff in E. (The stated inspiration for "Seek & Destroy" is Diamond Head's "Dead Reckoning", which likewise has a wiry intro riff (in G) before dropping into a seemingly unrelated main riff (in F#).) E is the main currency until the bridge, which, also out of nowhere, charges into a crisp canter in A, as if underscoring that the opening riff is actually related to the rest of the song.

This was the Metallica way of working then: stringing together riffs. Fortunately for them, they had the best riffs around. Would I eat a Spanish tapa, a Mexican taco, and a Korean banchan all in a row, if they were the world's best tapa, taco, and banchan? The sequence might not be a gastro-symphony, but yes, absolutely.

For a bunch of young gunslingers, Metallica '83 exercised remarkable restraint. "The Four Horsemen", "Jump in the Fire", "No Remorse" and "Seek & Destroy" are all relatively slow, emphasizing groove over speed. That's part of "Seek & Destroy"'s magic; it's mostly a mid-paced chugging menace. Inevitably, though, the "Young Metal Attack" shows its colors, and it's off to the races. The rest of metal has yet to catch up.

— Cosmo Lee

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