Metallica “Kill ‘Em All”


In a previous post on this blog, I investigated an oddly-timed riff from Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” that is allegedly in 5/8 meter. This certainly isn’t the only song in which Metallica does really interesting things with their timing—meter changes and tempo changes are practically a basic element of the band’s style in their early albums, and their music would sound really different if they followed a metronome nailed to a single tempo for each song. But there are also several riffs like the one I analyzed from “Master of Puppets” that don’t easily fit into a recognizable meter. In this post, I’ll be looking at a riff that accompanies the guitar solo in their first original song “Hit the Lights.” This riff is usually transcribed with a 7/8 measure at the end, but I’ll be arguing that it actually never changes out of 4/4.

This riff begins at 2:35 in the album version of “Hit the Lights,” right after the third verse. After a few repetitions of the riff, it is transposed up a whole step and continues underneath the guitar solo. This riff is then repeated kind of like a vamp through to the end of the song.

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