on 4 April 2007
The best way to judge an album's quality is how good it sounds years after its release. This is harder for metal bands, as their music can sound dated, their lyrics cheesy and the whole thing, well, a bit naff.
Metallica, however, are not one of these bands. They were always the most intelligent of the thrash bands, with James Hetfield's lyrics examining dark, serious subject matter. ''Ride The Lightning'' is a perfect example of this cerebral approach, with tracks like the epic ''Creeping Death'' and the seminal ''For Whom The Bell Tolls'' showing challenging subect matter can be combined with thrash riffs, without dumbing down the latter.
This intelligence is also reflected in the musicianship, which is nothing short of exceptional. Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and the late, great, Cliff Burton are all superb, their talent and vision are evident throughout, notably on ''The Call Of Ktulu'', which, despite being an instrumental, looses none of its power or heaviness.
To pick a standout track is hard, not least in 2007, 23 years after its release, when many, if not all, of the songs are regarded as thrash classics. I believe ''Fade To Black'' deserves a special mention though: its emotive, yet powerful lyrics, great Hetfield vocals, and a stunning acoustic intro, matched only by the epic outro.
The contrast from the intimacy of the opening to the heaviness of the outro shows Metallica's true genius. Heavy, yet intelligent, matching outstanding musicianship with the ability to write great songs. The best compliment though, is that it still sounds fantastic today.
on 7 July 2006
Featuring 8 tracks that display complex and powerful drums and riffs, played with extreme power and alarming efficiency and technicality. Approached and vocalised by deeply insightful doom inspired lyrics, the mood and intensity is of that which parades on high tension, fatal aggravation and existential stress.
The feel of the album is very serious. There is no space for comedy or light heartedness. The style is very certain and the passionate belief projected throughout its sound works to full efficiency!
The track arrangments are incredibly complex and the timing between the musicians is matched by the milisecond!
Although 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' is certain to generate appreciation, the stand out track on this album, 'Fade To Black', features a comtemplative intro, after which a perfectly played and recorded acoustic section that hits the heights of all possible comprehension. When the vocals kick in accompanied by the superb druming, proceeded with a graciously dealt riff it makes for a euphoric moment!
Every track projects quality, and the final instrumental track, although lacking in Vocals, is no exception.
on 1 June 2008
This is basically my review for the CD but I still have the original Vinyl pressing for this released via Music For Nations in the mid 80's - a real musical delicacy from my tender years! Almost wore it out before the joy of CD arrived!
1984 was a vintage year for metal- quality albums from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and in this case Metallica.
Metallica made an enormous leap in musical strength from 1983's Kill 'Em All to this (personally I've never known any other band progress this much in between albums). Everything improved 100%; Writing, arranging, vocals, musicianship and (especially) production.
Metallica began to show a flair for dynamics and recognise the importance of light and shade - this is a dark album though that lyrically focuses on death as it's primary subject. James Hefield's vocals are more rounded and deeper than on the previous album, together with FAR more maturity to the lyrics. Hetfield & Kirk Hammett work very well together on guitars, with moody acoustic interludes, monstrous riffs and some truly spine-tingling solos (possibly Hammett's finest work). Cliff Burton came into his own on Bass guitar with very heavy yet progressive bass lines (check out Track 3, For Whom The Bell Tolls) and Lars Ulrich actually became a genuine rock drummer here - plenty of great snare work and double bass drumming.
It must be said the snare drum sound is fantastic and all credit to Fleming Rasmussen for the production duties here which still sound fresh and powerful today
Stand out tracks;
Fight Fire With Fire - Deceptively gentle acoustic interlude, fast, aggressive riffs, double bass drumming, Nuclear War theme - 80's Thrash at its best!
Ride The Lightning - Metallica's take on Hallowed Be Thy Name? Mid paced but heavy, some epic riffs, great solo, thumping bass lines.
For Whom The Bell Tolls - Fantastic snare sound, WEIRD bass intro, mature lyrics, a monster of a song.
Fade To Black- Metallica's first ballad (although still heavy) and still their best.Fantastic acoustic chords, more stunning riffs, James Hetfield's moving lyrics and vocals, Kirk Hammett's best ever solo at the songs climax backed by superb drumming from Ulrich. Dark and haunting, this will stay with you for the rest of your life!
The Call Of Ktulu - Metallica's first fully fledged instrumental, real mythical feel to this with some cliched but effective 'Howling Wind' Sound FX at the start. Every musician absoluteley pushes himself here and the track builds to a fabulous climax (definite snippet of Gustav Holst's
classical piece, Mars at the end) Cliff Burton was a classical fan and it shows on this track. I'd have to strongly recommend the live version of Ktulu on 1999's S&M opus, where Metallica are backed on stage by The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Its INCREDIBLE!
Trapped Under Ice - Fast, plenty of lead guitar, proper Thrash metal!
In conclusion, This is an awesome, truly Epic album from the glory days(1984-1991) - Master Of Puppets probably does just shade it but the margin is so small you'd need goal line technology to split them. CLASSIC.
on 2 January 2002
Ride The Lightning is one hell of an album. Not as 'thrashy' sounding as their debut Kill 'Em All, but the writing (lyrics and music) is better than before, showing 'tallica were improving as musicians. This album was also themed in a way - all the songs are about ways of dying.
Fight Fire With Fire - Nuclear War
Ride The Lightning - Electrocution
For Whom The Bell Tolls - On the battlefield
Fade To Black - Suicide
Trapped Under Ice - Drowning
Escape - Difficult to explain, listen and make your mind up about it
Creeping Death - Murder
All these songs are classics with great big crunchy guitar riffs, thick, heavy drumming, powerful bass, and to top it off great lyrics. My favourite songs are the very cool title track Ride The Lightning, the epic (and best on the album) Fade To Black, the thrashy Creeping Death and the beautifully pieced Call of Ktulu.
Metal Up The A*s
on 18 July 2006
This is a gr8 album, it shows a more mature metallica and natural progression from the brutal debut kill em all. The songwriting is much improved as well. unlike the debut, this album has one fixed theme, which is "death". A recurring theme
for the next few albums. Each track has brilliant musicianship, and hetfeilds vocals are just feral, and inspired. hammetts solos are just BRILLIANT, hands down. i dont think he can ever top the soloing from this album. All in all, quality thrash metal, arguably the best one ever.
on 19 October 2003
Metallica haven't, let's face it, released a classic album since 1991's Black Album (and some people don't even like that). But the fact remains that Metallica reached their creative peak with only their second album. It is debatable as to whether it has ever been equalled (i.e by Master Of Puppets or the Black Album) but it has certainly never been bettered, by Metallica or any other band.
As you may have noticed from the song titles, Ride The Lightning is all about death, in its various guises, with topics from the electric chair (the title track) through war (For Whom The Bell Tolls) to suicide (Fade To Black), amongst others. What really impresses me about Metallica on this album, apart from their musicianship (which is of course outrageously high), is the tact with which they handle the various sensitive issues, from the poignancy of Fade To Black to the desperation and horror of Trapped Under Ice.
Opening track Fight Fire With Fire is a fantastic slice of thrash, with a deceptively gentle build-up followed by a rip-roaring thrash riff, some rather morbid lyrics about Armageddon, and an excellent solo.
The title track is, again, an emotive thrash song which captures perfectly the dread of Death Row (or at least I expect so, having not recently been on Death Row myself), and the lyrics also give Metallica's thoughts on the injustice of capital punishment. The solo found later on in the song is eardrum-burstingly good, and the pounding thrash riff keeps up the sinister tempo throughout.
For Whom The Bell Tolls is one of the true Metallica classics, and one of their most crowd-pleasing numbers in concert. The lyrics are some of Hetfield's most memorable (I, amongst many other Metallica devotees, have often found myself muttering "Men fight for the hill in the early day" at many an inopportune moment) and the da-da-da-daa riff thingy is also quite catchy (in the best, least popsong-chorus kind of way). FWTBT is an odd Metallica track in that it is the first one, prior to St.Anger, not to feature a proper guitar solo, at a time when solos all to often made up 50% of a Metallica song.
Fade To Black is my personal faourite Metallica song, with a gentle, poignant intro (later reminiscent of the similarly brilliant Unforgiven), a heart-rending crescendo mid-song, and a late solo to die for. James Hetfield's lyrics and vocal performance make you really believe that he's going to jump of that cliff or pull that trigger, and this, along with the aforementioned musical brilliance, is what makes Fade To Black one of the greatist songs ever written.
The album then goes through what could almost be called a mediocre patch, with Trapped Under Ice and Escape. Neither of these songs is bad as such, it's just that neither of them gets close to the brilliance of the other six tracks. When I first got the album I quite liked them, but it seems to me now that they are somewhat generic in their thrashiness. One standout aspect of Trapped Under Ice, however, is the desperation and panic in James Hetfield's voice, and Escape has a decent sing-along chorus.
Creeping Death pulls the slight downward spiral back up to scratch however, and is one of Metallica's most exclusively thrash songs. Anyone with basic knowledge of biblical history who hears the lyrics can tell that it's about the Passover, and the lyrics and the key are suitably threatening. The solo is also one of Kirk Hammet's best.
The Call Of Ktulu is a fantastic instrumental, and a rare one in that it's actually quite interesting to listen to. The S&M version is actually better (it's the ideal song to augment with strings and horns etc), but this original is still very eerie.
Overall the album cannot, from the point of view of a fan of Metallica or quality metal in general, really be faulted, though pedants will no doubt comment on the slight mediocrity of tracks 5 and 6. An excellent place to start a Metallica collection, as it lets you lightly into their thrashier era with subtlty and finesse.
on 24 October 2003
It's sickening to think that Metallica took three albums to be noticed in the 80s - a decade where rock was dominated by pointless theatrics of Kiss and Poison. The world should've been crying out for an album like this - pounding, intense, emotional and innovative.
Unlike their debut Kill 'Em All, there's a lot of depth to the lyrics. Like Justice For All, the lyrics are largely similarly-themed, with death a frequent subject. It's hard not to compare them to Iron Maiden, who were a big inspiration.
Opening with Fight Fire with Fire was a good move, as it plunges into their power-metal template in ferocious style. The two best tracks are perhaps For Whom the Bell Tolls and the slower Fade To Black. It's ironic that the few slower numbers in the earlier days are better than most of the later albums which have had less of the thrash-metal vibe.
I also adore the closing Call Of Ktulu, a lengthy instrumental showing the musical skill behind the album. The whole thng makes for a great head-stomping package.
on 30 July 2005
Metallica's fantastic second album, which builds on the "thrash" template set out by their legendary "Kill 'em All" debut, but also adds the dark atmospherics of the thriving British Heavy Metal scene (a huge influence on drummer Lars Ulrich), showcased brilliantly in James Hetfield's dark, brooding lyrics, particularly on "For Whom The Bell Tolls", "Fade To Black", "Trapped Under Ice", and "Creeping Death".
More than twenty years after it's release, several of the tracks here are still highlights of the Metallica live set. Another thing to note about "Ride The Lightning" is that it doesn't sound a million miles away from the current wave of new American heavy/thrash metal groups, such as Trivium, Chimaira, and Killswitch Engage. As many of these groups would have grown up with this album, it emphasises just what an influence it would have had on these young headbangers. If you are a fan of these bands and would like to see what encouraged them to pick up a guitar, this album is an ideal starting point.
on 4 September 2007
This is Metallica's finest, it contains great moments and has few faults.
What I would like to state however is that only two songs were co-written with Dave Mustaine these being "Ride the lightning" and "the call of ktulu." Though these are key tracks, Kirk Hammet clearly had more to do with this album than Dave Mustaine.
The first track is good but nothing in comparison to the opener of "Master of Puppets - battery". 3.5/5
"Ride the Lightning" the title track is brilliant and is one of the album's highlights. The guitar solo's are great but its James Hetfield's voice and riffs that make this song awesome. 4.5/5
Great live, "For Whom The Bell Tolls" could have been the only song off the album to follow "ride the lighning." This song is just the ultimate mosher tune. 5/5
Definitevly the best song on the album, showing how good a guitarist Kirk Hammett is you can tell he was taught by Joe Satriani, this song is incredible hats off to Metallica for "Fade to Black." 5/5
Its hard form this point not to just replay some of the previous songs or just skip forward to "Creeping Death" or "The call of ktulu", however "trapped under ice" is worth a good listen and though it is weak on this album it would be one of the best on later albums like "st. anger" 3.5/5
"Escape" for me is the worst song out of all, though this possible maybe more down to my personal dislike for this song its not bad. 3/5
"Creeping Death" a great song that gets even better when heard live especially when the crowd are asked to shout out die and for some i know their favourite off the album, fantastic! 4.5/5
"The Call of Ktulu" if the most epic song nearly ever by metallica with obviously one taking that prize, a great way to finish off an album but especially for "ride the lighning", though after having heard it many times it can get boring. 4/5
on 25 September 2004
The following review was written by me for The Metal garage [...]
When this album was released, it proved Metallica were one of the best metal bands around, and gave them the status as one of the 'big four' thrash bands, along with Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer.
Metallica's sound has improved from their impressive debut 'Kill 'em All'. The music and lyrics have a more matured feel, and James' vocals have developed and become stronger. Kirk's solos on this album are just pure brilliance. I'd go as far as to say they are mouth watering, and every time he goes into a solo, it's inevitable that the listener gets up and air guitars along.
The quality of 'Ride The Lightning' is high throughout, with each song being able to stand out as nothing but great. The album has a thunderous atmosphere, with the songs having a raging feel to them. Not all the songs are like this though. 'Fade To Black' is a ballad, and a ballad seems as if it would be out of place amongst the lightning fast tracks present here, but it actually fits in extremely well and gives the album a good variation. The last song, 'The Call Of Ktulu', is my personal favourite instrumental ever recorded. It slowly builds up with some chilling melodies and awesome solos before the most thrilling and epic climax to a song like no other.
If I had 50 minutes left to live, I would spend it listening to this. If you don't own it you really should go out and buy it now, you won't be disappointed.