Metallica’s first-ever recording, “Hit the Lights,” will be available on vinyl for the first time since 1984 this spring. Record label Metal Blade will reissue its seminal Metal Massacre compilation — which contained “Hit the Lights” — to mark its 40th anniversary, April 22.
The reissue will feature the release’s original track list, including Ratt’s “Tell the World” and Steeler’s “Cold Day in Hell,” both of which were omitted from later pressings. The version of Metallica’s “Hit the Lights” on the comp comes from the second pressing of Metal Massacre, and it features a guitar solo by the band’s first lead guitarist, Dave Mustaine, who later formed Megadeth. (The version of “Hit the Lights” on the first pressing, which is streaming below, featured a solo by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich’s friend Lloyd Grant who contributed to the track as a guest.)
Metal Massacre originally came out June 14, 1982 as a showcase for unsigned Los Angeles metal bands tied to label founder Brian Slagel’s zine, The New Heavy Metal Revue. “Hit the Lights” was a last-minute contribution. “When I was putting together the compilation, [Lars] called me up,” Slagel said in a statement. “He was jamming with James and a couple other guys in their garage playing covers of Diamond Head and everything. Lars asked me, ‘Hey, if I put together a band and give you an original song, will you put it on the record?’ And I said, ‘Sure, of course.’ So that was basically the beginning of Metallica.”
“On the day of mastering, Brian and I had all of the songs ready except for Lars’ new band called Metallica,” John Kornarens, the comp’s assistant producer, added. “The session was to start at 3 o’clock and we were standing on a Hollywood sidewalk waiting for Lars to show up with material from his new band, and moments later he finally arrived and pulled a cassette out of his back pocket.”
The Metal Massacre reissue will available in a limited edition run of 5,000 copies pressed on “ruby red” vinyl (traditionally the 40th anniversary is the “ruby” anniversary) via the Metal Blade website. Additionally, 2,000 copies pressed on clear vinyl will be for sale on Metallica’s website.
Slagel explained the significance of “Hit the Lights” in a Rolling Stone profile of Metallica that ran in 1989. “Metallica really created a form of music,” he said. “When they came out, there was no speed metal or thrash metal. They were doing something new, and if you look at bands who are successful, especially in this genre, they have to be doing something different and do it well.”
In addition to the Metal Massacre reissue, Metal Blade will mark its 40th anniversary with a variety of festivities. Cannibal Corpse will lead a tour with label-mates Whitechapel and Revocation beginning in March; Cannibal Corpse will also headline the Metal Blade–sponsored Decibel Magazine Metal and Beer Fest. The Chicago restaurant Kuma’s Corner has added Metal Blade–themed menu items, including a Hit the Lights Burger. And Las Vegas will host a Metal Blade Museum later this year.