The Four Horsemen

Album: Kill 'Em All (1983)

Songfacts®:

  • Dave Mustaine brought this song to the band and worked on it with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. At the time, they called it "The Mechanix," and included it on their 1982 demo cassette No Life 'Til Leather.

    After Mustaine was fired from the band in 1983, Metallica released Kill 'Em All with a re-worked version of this song renamed "The Four Horsemen." Mustaine's new group, Megadeth, released it as "Mechanix" as the last track on their first album, Killing Is My Business....

    Mustaine's version has completely different lyrics, but the music is very similar. Since the Metallica song had been out for a while, Mustaine would often introduce "Mechanix" in concert by explaining that it was a track he wrote with Metallica. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Terry - Belleville, Canada
  • "The Four Horsemen" is a biblical reference. In The New Testament, "The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse" go in different directions to spread the word of the end of the world. The concept of The Four Horsemen is not limited to The Bible. In 1924, a sportswriter referred to The Notre Dame football team's backfield as "The Four Horsemen," and the school had the players pose on horses with their uniforms on to publicize the team, which was coached by the legendary Knute Rockne. The photo became famous when it was picked up by wire services and the nickname stuck. For Metallica, The Four Horsemen could refer to the four members of the band.
  • Dave Mustaine claims credit for the title. A group called Gamma (led by Ronnie Montrose) has a song called
    "Four Horsemen" that Mustaine played in his pre-Metallica band, Panic. He would refer to Metallica as "The Four Horsemen" and suggested they cover the Gamma song. The band never did the cover, but they did appropriate the title.
  • The bit of "Sweet Home Alabama" in the middle of the song came about after Dave Mustaine had been listening to some Lynryd Skynyrd. When the band was working on the song, Mustaine played played some of "Alabama" because, as he says, he was "being a jerk." His little joke worked, however, and the final product ended up including the bit of the Skynyrd classic.
  • James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Dave Mustaine are the credited writers on this track. Mustaine also got credits on the Kill 'Em All tracks "Jump in the Fire," "Phantom Lord" and "Metal Militia."
  • Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden, has called Metallica "the f--king bane of my life." In the Iron Maiden computer game Ed Hunter, there is a level set in Hell in which you can kill the "four horsemen." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brett - Edmonton, Canada
  • Metallica has a habit of cutting the song in half by skipping the jam-like solo on the bridge of the song. It wasn't until December 7, 2011, on their 30th anniversary, that they played "The Four Horsemen" from beginning to end, including the bridge solo. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Cristian - Bellflower, CA
  • The original album title was "Metal Up Yer Ass," with artwork of an arm holding a knife coming out of a toilet bowl. They thought it might cause problems, so they toned it down to Kill 'Em All, with a bloody hammer as artwork.
  • In 2018, Metallica performed an acoustic, country-influenced version in San Francisco to benefit the band's charitable foundation, All Within My Hands. The following year, it was included on their album Helping Hands ... Live & Acoustic at the Masonic. The charity was founded in 2017 to help create sustainable communities through workforce education and food provision.
  • In the Stranger Things episode "The Mind Flayer" (2017), Billy listens to this while he gets ready for a date.

Comments: 26

  • Dave from OhioI’m coming late to the party but I am thinking every lyric site I check is wrong. I don’t know James or Dave well enough to know for sure (I wish I did), but seems to me they are laughing at us all. “Leather steeds” makes no sense to me. I think that The lyric is truly “lathered steeds”. As far as I know leather comes from cows. Lather is what happens to a horse when it is riding so hard and so long to come kill your ass. The song rocks! I just want to get it right next time I stand up to the mic.
  • Vlad from UssrThe Gold Standard in Metal had arrived, as had the Golden Age of Metal. I miss it.
  • Natu from Addis Ababa, EthiopiaThis song is a real Thrash Metal Anthem....the badest song from kill em all.
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjI saw it. They made into a boogie-woogie country type song. Strange thing is it kind of works!
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjYeah, (the) Mechanix is faster, and Megadeth have stood the test of time better, but I think Metallica's version of this song is the better one.
    Rob, Perth, Australia, I don't know how they could possibly make an acoustic version of this song and not make it sound rediculous, but I'll be sure to check it out. (It should be on youtube somewhere...)
  • Jorge from Bronx, NyI would like to know,if any of you having the LP or CD of this album,never experienced a low volumen on this particualr track,not unless i'am going deaf,,lol
  • Alvaro from Crested Butte, CoThe Four Horsemen is also a boss in the World of Warcraft raid Naxxramas
  • Matt from Bakersfield, Cai know that Megadeth has the orginal song of this one, but i think that Metallica did this a lot better. no disrespect to Megadeth because thay are a good group and i love them both.
  • Shawn from Frostburg, MdNow this is hardcore "Old School" Metallica. You won't hear Avril Lavigne cover this bad boy. This is when they cared more about their music and nothing about how much money they are making..
    If you would have told them back when they recorded this song that they would one day cover a Bob Segar tune, I think they would have shot themselves on the spot. OHHH the power of money.....
  • Diego from Los Angeles, CaWell this is just an awesome song. It really speaks about what Metallica set out to do. That they went out and "killed" all the poser bands. They led the metal revolution with this song as their anthem. Its amazing. And to all the Megadeth fans, this songs is way better than Mechanix but Megadeth is awesome, not as good as the original thrashers but still great. A TRIBUTE TO THE FOUR HORSEMEN!!!
  • Evan from Otway, OhOkay lets get this straight: if you wanna know who the four horsemen are, read the bible. Second, this is my favorite song on Kill 'Em All....catchy, and better than Mechanix, if you ask me, simply because you can understand James better than Mustaine.
  • Nick from Paramus, NjPertaining to the interlude in the middle, Kirk recorded 2 solos; a lower one and a higher one; and couldn't decide which one to use, so they used both simultaneously...or that's what I got from one source, somethihng to that effect.
  • Justin from Rio Dell, Cait has to be one of the best metal tripelet feel songs in the world, black sabbath did a few.
  • Michael from Greenwood, Inextremely good solo
  • Patrick from Renews, CanadaFor anyone who's been asking about who the Four Horsemen from the bibal are. If you'd actually listen to the song, or even read the lyics, they say the names. Time, Famine, Pestilence and Death
  • Dillan from Toronto, CanadaI love this song its one of my favourites, but i am unsure about the real four horsemen, is is Death, War, Conquest, Famine. Or is it Death, War Famine and Pestilence. As Zippy said, the biblical one is Death, War, Conquest, Famine....
  • Zippy from Satsuma, AlClassically, the "Four Horsemen" are a biblical allusion. They are the beings that come forth as the lamb breaks the first four of seven seals on a scroll. The four horses are White, Red, Black and Pale. The riders, or horsemen, represent the phenomena from which they take their names--Conquest, War, Famine and Death. The horsemen aren't "named" per se (except Death who is directly named) in Revelation, but there is little doubt what they are to do. Rev. 6:2 "...and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." Rev. 6:4 "...and POWER was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another..." Rev. 6:6 "...a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." Rev. 6:8 "...his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."
  • Jess from Milford, Pacorrection to Terry, it's "Mechanix" not "THE Mechanix" And Metallica ripped Mustaine off when he left. They had an agreement that they were not to use any of Mustaine's work. Most Metallica's early solos were Mustaine's writing.
  • Rob from Perth, Australiai am a massive metallica fan - one of the biggest i know (!) and The Four Horsemen is my fav metallica tune - not so much for the lyrics but the music is awsome - there is not a version of it i dont like - i even absolutly LOVE the acustic unplugged version... CLASSIC METALLICA
  • Luke from Manchester, EnglandNo the song doesn't refer to the band members but people do (or did) refer to Lars, Jaymz, Cliff and Kirk as 'The 4 Horsemen'
  • Nick from Hartline, WaJust a bit of a correctino to Micheal Picard there, (no offense) but it's Pestialance, War, Famine and Death, as everyone has said obviously to make it seem liek they are smart, but everyone knows that, and it doesn't refer to the 4 band members wth :S lol Metallica kicks ass!!!
  • Charlie from Thomaston, Ctprobably the best song from kill em all
  • Michael Picard from Lapwai, IdThe Four Horsemen are Conquest, War, Famine, and Death. And this song is massively awesome!!
  • Hetfield from Manchester, EnglandThis song is basically an introduction to the metallica phenomenom. with the attitude of riding into town, raping and pillaging (playing a gig and winnning over fans) and then leaving

    The 4 members of the band, are compared to the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse;

    War, Death, Famin and pestelance
  • Mike from Drayton Valley, Canadapestilence,war,famine,death.. The four horsemen
  • Peter from Berlin, GermanyFirst of all Its called "Kill em all" in reference to the record company who opposed "metal up your ass" Apparently as this news broke to Metallica Cliff Burtons reaction was: " Ahhh Go kill em alll". The Four Horsemen are called " Pestilence, War , Famine , Death.
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