Metallica
Ride the Lightning


5.0
classic

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
September 23rd, 2011 | 1954 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Times marches on.

I've never understood how people who really love music can dislike metal. Mostly people seem to say that they can't connect with metal like they can with other genres and, on a certain level, I get that. Metal has always been an alienated (and alienating) genre, looked upon as a soundtrack for social outcasts who neither understand other people nor are understood by them. And honestly, it couldn't have turned out any other way. One of the biggest draws of metal is the strength and motivation that it inspires; it makes perfect sense that some would need that more than others. But to me, rather than being a negative, that's the very thing that makes metal so amazing. I think it is music in its purest form, not in any aesthetic sense but in a symbolic one. On the surface, music is meant to be enjoyed, sure, but its true purpose is to be connected with. Genres like indie, folk, etc., might be perfect for, say, breakups, with lyrics so personal that you've got to wonder if you wrote them yourself, but metal provides confederation without pandering, without considering if listeners will be able to relate or not.

For all the flak they've gotten these past two decades, Metallica's earlier work stands tall as a perfect justification of the love people have for metal. While I might roll my eyes to hear someone use a phrase like “die for metal,” I also know why they'd say it. There is such power in this music, such a confident swagger that somehow never becomes overbearing or off-putting. That fine line between egotism and relativity was always one that Metallica walked quite well in their early days. Ride The Lightning is the rare metal album that is as charming as it is powerful; there is nostalgia in this record for the days when metal was fun without being a gimmick, when it was hard-hitting without being suffocating. “Trapped Under Ice” is as much punk as it is thrash; no band has ever been able to pack as much desperation into a song since. And “Fade To Black” is so gorgeous, the chord progression so perfect, and the song is even more beautiful because it never loses its bite or devolves into a token ballad. James Hetfield is never given the credit he deserves as a vocalist (people are usually too busy debating about whether or not Kirk Hammett's solos are good or not, as if that's even the point). His work on this album and Master Of Puppets especially is so versatile and wide in its range; he could really do it all with his voice, capable of startling vulnerability in one moment and bared-teeth aggression in the next. And it doesn't hurt that Metallica were firing on all cylinders as a band on this album; “Creeping Death” is a fantastic embodiment of its title, with numerous tempo changes and ending, of course, with slinking leads and a final explosion followed by a deafening silence.

At its best, metal provides a distinctly different – but no less important – escape. While other genres rely on the interpersonal to forge connections with listeners, metal relies on bigger and broader issues, ones that require a bit more attention to find. It's why I'm never surprised to see people who listen to metal and nothing else. The genre is so unbelievably deep and so easy to get lost in, and a mere one or two albums can forge a lifelong search for the next great metal album. It's also why I'm surprised when those who love music for emotional reasons can't seem to get into the genre, or rather, aren't willing to put in the effort. When I think of a “metalhead,” I think of someone who only listens to metal, and I don't fit that definition. But I love metal. No matter how long I sometimes go without listening to it, it always holds a high place in my heart. Metal is strength, metal is solidarity, metal is acceptance. It is “For Whom The Bell Tolls” - the knowledge of mortality, the unstoppable tolling, yes, but also it is the means with which to reckon with unchangeable facts – a strike of electricity in the darkest nights.



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user ratings (5428)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this is an attempt to combat the typical metal review (metallica formed in ____ and recorded ____ albums before they released _____, their best album) but i think i contradicted that when i talked about what metal means to people for two paragraphs

oh well!

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

this is an attempt to combat the typical metal review (metallica formed in ____ and recorded ____ albums before they released _____, their best album)

Hahahahahaha yeah this site gets shitloads of that type of review lololol.

PS - Great review Chan. Bumped my rating to a 4 and immediately decided to jam to the album because of it.

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

Activista anti-MTV
September 23rd 2011


3144 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I still like this album a lot.

BallsToTheWall
September 23rd 2011


44352 Comments


Terrific review and agree so much with this.

Went out to this alternative bar last night because I heard they play good music, DJ's, occasional live bands, attract my kind of crowd and whatnot, I ask the guy if they ever play metal and he says no, because it would scare off the "clientel".

Digging: Pharmakon - Abandon

EyesWideShut
September 23rd 2011


3150 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i perfer this version of creeping death
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjxE1Ebe1L8

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

FLASH BEFORE MY EYES. NOW IT'S TIME TO DIE.

BURRRRNING IN MY BRAIN, I CAN FEEL THE PAIN.

taylormemer
September 23rd 2011


4917 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Their best instrumental is here too.

Curse.
Contributing Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


7996 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have been on a massive metal kick for over a month, and this review sums up why perfectly. Channing, you are a god

Bloodbirds
September 23rd 2011


250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review and I agree on a lot of points. Personally, I use metal to vent all the frustration/anger that builds up over a period of time.

BassDemon333
September 23rd 2011


3377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of their best right here. This and Puppets.

Digging: Mudvayne - L.D. 50

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


6448 Comments


Great and interesting read, Chan!

I personally am not a metalfan, not for a lack of trying mind you. But somehow, I just can't "get into" the genre. But a quote like this:

Genres like indie, folk, etc., might be perfect for, say, breakups, with lyrics so personal that you've got to wonder if you wrote them yourself, but metal provides confederation without pandering, without considering if listeners will be able to relate or not.


I disagree with. I've had that feeling with other non-metal stuff as well. And I don't think you can say that about a genre in general, it's always about certain individual artists...

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


16088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Reviews deal in generalities. Of course there are exceptions to what he is saying, but I agree as a general rule it is fairly accepted and altogether true.

Meanwhile, this review sucks as usual.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"I've never understood how people who really love music can dislike metal."

My bat phone just rang & Chan is on the line.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
September 23rd 2011


6448 Comments


Of course, I use generalisations all the time as well, but I still tend to disagree...

To each his opinion, I guess

KILL
September 23rd 2011


71750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

death to all but metal!

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

Tyrael
September 23rd 2011


20876 Comments


Good review, this is definitely their best album.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

The Sludge
September 23rd 2011


2169 Comments


mm8 would be proud

KILL
September 23rd 2011


71750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

chan you gota get into priest stop being a pussy

struth
September 23rd 2011


435 Comments


I love this album.

kangaroopoo
September 23rd 2011


3175 Comments


Great read.



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