Metallica
Ride the Lightning


5.0
classic

Review

by Pedro B. USER (303 Reviews)
November 22nd, 2007 | 35 replies | 16,956 views


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The best metal album ever made? Yeah, probably...

3 of 4 thought this review was well written

Back in the early 1980’s, Metallica were progressing in leaps and bound. The same band that in 1983 had put out the punky, clumsy Kill ‘Em All presented their second opus only one year later, and the evolution was abyssal.

Ride The Lightning is nothing more nothing less than Metallica’s magnum opus. More focused than Master of Puppets, better played than Kill ‘Em All and more honest than the Black Album, this is as perfect a collection of eight songs as we are likely to get nowadays. In fact, this album rivals Dookie and Piece Of Mind for lack of filler and songcrafting excellence. Simply put, every song here is either a classic or a criminally overlooked gem (apart from Fight Fire With Fire, which is somewhat weaker, and Call Of Ktulu, which isn’t really my thing, but is still a classic instrumental nonetheless).

On this album, musicianship has vastly improved. Sure, you can still hear the seams where Kirk Hammett’s solos are glued together, but his rhythms are much more consistent than on Kill ’Em All. James Hetfield’s vocals have also matured and deepened, losing the high-ish adolescent pitch that characterized him on the previous album. And Lars Ulrich is still not the world’s greatest drummer, but he is capable of some good fills, notably at the beginning of Creeping Death or during Fade To Black. As for Cliff Burton…it’s a consensus that he helped revolutionize rock bass, and here his huge low end – so sorely missed on later albums with Jason Newsted – is present and audible throughout. Particular cases in point are the title track itself and – again – Creeping Death, where his bass comes up in full force, even at times outmuscling the guitars. However, he is present in almost every song – listen closely and you can hear his buzz behind the guitars on Trapped Under Ice or For Whom The Bell Tolls. And of course, he, like everybody else, gets his solo spot on the nine-minute Call Of Ktulu.

So musically, this is a great album. But compositively, as well, this shines. The simplistic writing of Kill ‘Em All has turned into songs that are as complex as they are catchy. There are plenty of tempo variations on at least six of the songs here (Trapped Under Ice and Fight Fire With Fire are more straightforward thrash anthems), but they all remain as catchy as the next, and indeed their choruses, riffs and solos ring in our ears even a long time after listening to this album.

There are alsos touches of genius scattered throughout this record. The bass and guitar harmonies at the beginning of Ride The Lightning; the humongous solo on Creeping Death, excellently backed by some of the best rhythm guitar in Metallica’s career; the acrobatics on Ktulu; and so on so forth. Nearly every song on here has at least one point of interest. Even Escape, considered by many to be the weakest track on this album, has good riffing and a catchy chorus. This, along with Jump In The Fire from Kill ‘Em All, is one of the songs that the band label «too disco and won’t play live. It’s a shame, because like every other track on here, it’s a good track. And that’s not counting Fade To Black, certainly one of the top 5 power ballads ever written, that turns into a thrash cavalcade towards the end, just another proof of Metallica’s capability to keep us on our toes.

And then there’s the lyrics. All those who say that metal lyrics are dumb and stultifying should listen to this album. The semi-conceptual theme here revolves around the various possible manners of death, from the electric chair on Ride The Lightning, to being snowed in on Trapped Under Ice, and even touching upon historical themes, like the biblical plague of the pharaoh on Creeping Death (not wanting to labor the point , this is one of the best tracks ever conceived in metal). This makes for extremely nice, cohesive writing which is only another one of the pluses.

So what are the minuses, then, you ask? Well, apart from the odd weaker track and a production that could be better, there really aren’t many to speak of. It may be biased – it is – but for my money this is the perfect metal album. In my mind, there’s only one possible rating it can get, and that’s what it’s getting. All you Metallica-bashers can sue me later.

Recommended Tracks
Ride The Lightning
Fade To Black
Creeping Death



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user ratings (5341)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ReturnToRock
November 22nd 2007



3448 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yes i know it's been done by eight people before, but this is pretty much my favorite album and besides, it's a redo of one of my first Sputnik reviews.

so don't neg it please.

rasputin
November 22nd 2007



14516 Comments


brilliant album. I personally don't enjoy Trapped Under Ice or Escape, but all the other songs are wonderful.

Serpento
November 22nd 2007



2351 Comments


Ride The Lightning is nothing more nothing less than Metallica’s magnum opus.
Other than that moment of nonsensery, good review.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2007



15727 Comments


I wouldn't neg it, as it's well written, but [quote=last review]i'll do something new next time.[/quote] brings the lulz.


Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

ReturnToRock
November 22nd 2007



3448 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah i know.

but i just noticed this one had disappeared from my list.

next - accept - accept

then, probably, st. anger.

Zoo
November 22nd 2007



3759 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=review]The best metal album ever made?[/quote]
No.

Yazz_Flute
November 22nd 2007



18764 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

MoP is definately better imo. It has stronger songs, and less filler. Creeping Death is my favorite, shortly followed by For Whom the Bell Tolls and the Call of Ktulu. I think Fade to Black is overrated actually, but still great.

And Fight Fire with Fire is awesome.

Digging: Cormorant - Dwellings

LifeInABox
November 22nd 2007



3708 Comments


This shite is severly overrated.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2007



15727 Comments


NUH UH METALLICA WERE THE BEST TILL THEY RELEASED THAT SHITTY "BLACK ALBUM!"

Altmer
November 22nd 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

overrated album but this is a metallica album I can listen to... sometimes.

Meatplow
November 22nd 2007



5524 Comments


I don't mind this every now and then, nothing like a bit of old school metallica.

Lunarfall
November 22nd 2007



3179 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty good album, but that clump of 2 bad songs (TUI and E) really ruin the experience. Also, I never liked Creeping Death as much as most people. MoP and KEA is better.

Thor
November 22nd 2007



10176 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The best metal album ever made? Yeah, probably...

I'd say probably 3rd best.

Altmer
November 22nd 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'd say like 50th best or so.

Altmer
November 22nd 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

And then only for historical purposes.

ReturnToRock
November 22nd 2007



3448 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

trapped under ice = most underrated song by any group EVER!!!!

Thor
November 22nd 2007



10176 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Call of Ktulu should be in the highlights list.

Altmer
November 22nd 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

trapped under ice is a shitty song

Mikesn
Emeritus
November 22nd 2007



3709 Comments


best metallica album

it has two good songs!

Geedrummer
November 22nd 2007



607 Comments



"This shite is severly overrated."

100% agreed



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