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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Kassel

Nothing gets me fired up quite like "Seek & Destroy"

It's a song I consider a sports anthem, and just a track that gets you in the mood for a thrashing.

I am so ****ing ready for the 124th Big Game.

I'm writing this post after an afternoon and evening filled with Cal spirit and getting the campus ready for Saturday's rivalry affair, and I want to capture all the energy I felt and saw in one track.

Between the pure excitement of the game and all the events that surround it, the ability to actually go to the game (and with people I love), and the desire to run Stanfurd into the ground, I had to go with the one song that gets me more energized than any other: Metallica's "Seek & Destroy."

"Seek & Destroy" has a special place in my heart because of its use by the San Jose Sharks as the song to which they skate out before every home game. Having attended my fair share of Sharks games in my final couple years of high school — and hopefully attending more soon over my winter break — the song has become ingrained in me as a pre-game anthem. These feelings are only furthered by the driving rhythms and lyrics, as James Hetfield and company scout out the city for victims they can obliterate.

From its first moments, "Seek & Destroy" stands out as a premier thrash metal track. Kirk Hammett's opening riff — regarded as being among the greatest in metal — instantly sets up the track's foreboding atmosphere with its dissonant tritone and major ninth leaps. The dissonances are quickly resolved downward, but they stick in your ears because of the leap up to them.

As iconic as the riff is, the song has a notable change in pitch center following it. While the initial riff is grounded in the repetition of the note A, the bulk of the song from 0:29 onward is centered around E. The original key center returns in the beginning of Hammett's solo and the restatement of the intro following it, but by that point the listener is aware that A is not the tone around which the song as a whole revolves. The change of key center following the opening riff leads to an interesting question as to how the introduction is heard in relation to the rest of the song, and the extent of which that relation and key change matters. Personally, I hear the key change, but don't think it's notable enough to reconfigure my entire understanding of the song, other than the fact that it gives the backing of Hammett's solo greater context.

As the song continues, its dark aura is further entrenched by the descending guitars in the chorus and Hetfield's piercing cries of "Searching... seek and destroy!" It's clear: Metallica are looking to take you down. The title and its statement in the chorus seem to be derived from the Stooges' "Search and Destroy," from roughly a decade before Metallica recorded "Seek & Destroy" for their debut album Kill 'Em All. Like Iggy Pop, Metallica hit right at our innate human desire for destruction, a theme which most definitely fits the mood before a sporting event — particularly for a high-contact sport like hockey or football. Even when you're just a fan, that feeling rubs off on you ahead of as big a game as... well, the Big Game, which captures the attention of the entire campus and larger community. To that end, I hear Hammett's solo as being the titular seeking and destroying in its double-time frenzy.

"Seek & Destroy" is a song that has a profound effect on me because of both how exposed to it and how it relays its title message. It's a track that has powered me through all sorts of difficulties and big tests, and I'm hoping it can continue to help me that way going forward. I'm also hoping that its lyrics figuratively portend Saturday's events. Go Bears. *feverishly knocks on wood*


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