Metallica - Ride The Lightning
1984 - Megaforce Records / Elektra
The year was 1984; Metallica had released their debut album Kill Em All a year earlier, thrash metal was just taking off in the world and Metallica were one of the front-runners of this new and exciting genre, along with Slayer and the newly formed Megadeth (formed by former Metallica axe man Dave Mustaine, who has writing credits on Kill Em All and Ride The Lightning, even though he was kicked out of the band before Kill Em All was recorded). After touring America and Europe for the Kill Em All album it was time to record the ‘difficult’ second album, so they went into Sweet Silence studio in Copenhagen , Denmark (drummer Lars Ulrich’s homeland), with producer Flemming Rasmussen.
Line Up :
James Hetfield -- Rhythm Guitar / Vocals
Kirk Hammett -- Lead Guitar
Cliff Burton -- Bass
Lars Ulrich -- Drums
The album starts off with the beautiful acoustic guitar that introduces Fight Fire With Fire (4:44), for 45 seconds it’s the calm before the storm, after this acoustic intro in come the low end guitars playing one of the most simple thrash riffs yet one of the best, it comes raging in like a bull in front of a red sheet shop, the song is about Armageddon, and with this riff you’d think it was happening while your listening to it, the solo is great, even if it is low in the mix at times. Next is the title track , Ride The Lightning (6:36), with its lead guitar intro it slides into a great sliding main riff, the songs theme is Capitol Punishment, during the bridge is a great speed section with a great riff, which then kicks into another great Kirk guitar solo. Next is For Whom The Bell Tolls (5:10), this song is the start of a 3 part trilogy about war that runs through 3 Metallica albums (the trilogy being : For Whom The Bell Tolls, Disposable Heroes off Master Of Puppets and One off ...And Justice For All), made up of slow powerful riffs, and great lead guitar passages (especially when they’re doubled). There’s no real solo in the song though, especially at the ending where it’s just a load of wailing guitars and whammy bar. Next is the legendary Fade To Black (6:56), one of the best known Metallica tracks, the song deals with suicide, even though the song is inspired by an event where Metallica’s gear was stolen after a show, and James Hetfield had to look over 2 continents to find an amp that could re-create the sound his amp that got stolen had. It was Metallica’s first venture into Ballads, and times after this the sell out chant started. The song begins with a great acoustic guitar intro in which then a beautiful solo comes in over the top, when the solo ends the verse riff kicks in with its layered acoustic guitars, between the first 1st and 2nd verses is a great riff that also comes in at the end of the 2nd verse just before the bridge comes in, after this riff between the 1st and 2nd verses is another solo, but this is a quick and simple solo, made up of just bends. The bridge riff has to be one of the best riffs Metallica have ever written, its heavy and powerful, after the bridge comes in some more nice lead guitar work which then kicks into one of the greatest solos of all time (always appears in the top 10 of peoples solos lists in magazines) it has a lots of feel in its playing. Next is Trapped Under Ice ( 4:30), a solid intro with a great intro solo, like if it was off Kill Em All, the verses are of a quick pace, the riffs in places are very Iron Maiden rhythm guitar esque, the vocals are done well here with echoes coming after certain words, there’s also some more great lead guitar work throughout the song. Next is Escape (4:23), this reflects the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) in its riffs and technique, the bridge is sludgy, the solos decent enough but we all now what Kirks capable off, the endings a bit disappointing aswell. Next is Creeping Death (6:36), this song was inspired by a film the band was watching, and after seeing something during the film Cliff says ‘look Creeping Death’ and James thought that would be a great song title and the song went from there. The song is full of solid riffage, it has a great chorus, theres another great solo from Hammett, then in comes the bridge, one of the best they’ve done, the demonic voices behind Hetfield’s work really well, and its great to hear live and chant along with it. Finally is The Call Of The Ktulu (8:52), originally this song was to be called When Hell Freezes Over, this song is based on the story by HP Lovecraft (the books name has Cthulu as its spelling), the song has a link to The Thing That Should Not Be off Master Of Puppets. This is a great instrumental, with the wind effect at the start adding great effect. The guitar work throughout is top notch, with great riffs and solos. The final 2mins is the best part of the song, with its powerful riffs. The Symphony in the background is great at adding more effect to the song and you can see why they used it as an intro song during the S+M concerts.
This is one of the most classic metal albums ever; just think they were only 21 when this album was released. This album is one of the best performances on record the ‘Tallica have ever done. Choc-a-blocked full of riffs, you can see why at times Hetfield’s called the ‘King Of Riffs’. I also think this is Kirk Hammett’s best performance on a Metallica Record. Lars actually puts on a good performance as well, at times his John Bonham influence comes in with off-time beats from time to time. Hetfield’s Vocals reflect the rawness and energy of Metallica’s Energy and sound.
Try: any song but if you really want songs to try , try Fade To Black, Creeping Death, Call of the ktulu, Fight Fire With Fire