Review Summary: Another early triumph by metal giant, Metallica.
After Metallica's first album, Kill Em All, the band had quite a bit to live up too. While Kill Em All may not have been a huge commercial success initially, it had a huge impact on both the emerging thrash metal genre and Metallica as a band. It gave them a standard to live up to and set a definite bar they would have to clear. So the big question was whether or not Metallica would be able to come together again and deliver and awesome dose of thrash.
Did they? You can bet your ass they did.
Ride the Lightning is an impressive, fast paced sophomore album that rarely lets up and delivers some truly excellent songs. Although every song is great in their own ways, there are four that stick out more than the others. The opener, Fight Fire With Fire kicks things off in high gear immediately. A song about nuclear warfare wiping out all life on earth, Fight Fire With Fire is fast and brutal, with Hetfield's excellent vocals backed by fantastic instrumentation by the rest of the band. For Whom the Bell Tolls tells a powerful story about war and death, and features the greatest opening of any track on the album. The next song, Fade to Black is the most unique track on the album. For the most part the song is soft, mournful and restrained. The pockets of aggression are brief, with the song picking up only at the end before it quickly fades. It weaves a tragic tale of losing one's identity and then longing for death. Fade to Black is deep yet bleak, making the listener think and reflect more than any other track on the album.
The album's final highlight is Creeping Death; a song dripping with absolute evil. It tells the story of the Hebrew enslavement as told in the book of Exodus, but with a delightful metal twist. The song is told from the perspective of the angel of death and is about how he will come and slaughter all the Egyptian children. I can practically hear Hetfield giving an evil grin while telling this tale. Simultaneously, the rest of the band is in full force, making the song fast and thrilling. It's pretty awesome that Metallica could take a Bible story and turn it into something truly badass.
Ride the Lightning triumphs in all the right ways; it features a very high dose of thrash and anger, while still mixing in moments that allow the listener to rest. In the end, however, it comes back in full force and releases sheer, absolute aggression. Additionally, the album features some truly thought-provoking lyrics. These lyrics allow the listener to think, even while they head bang to some excellent metal. Ride the Lightning is a magnificent album by a young band in its prime.
-My recommended tracks are Fight Fire With Fire, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Fade to Black, and Creeping Death-