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James Hetfield based the theme of this song on a Diamond Head song called "Dead reckoning." He explained to Guitar World: "The idea of 'Seek' came from a Diamond Head song called 'Dead Reckoning.' I used to work in a sticker factory in L.A., and I wrote that riff in my truck outside work. This was our first experience in a real studio. I used a white Flying V, which was the only guitar I had back then. I still have the guitar in storage. The song is based around a one-note riff that was up a little higher. Though most of my riffs are in E, that one worked off an A."
An early Metallica track, this is an angry track where the band gets out some of the aggression that years later would lead them into band therapy, as shown in the documentary Some Kind of Monster. Much of the battlefield imagery in the song related to the Los Angeles music scene, where the band played before moving to San Francisco. The L.A. club crowd didn't seem to get Metallica, and the band didn't understand them either.