Metallica - Ride The Lightning
Metallica were certainly ahead of their time. Or, at least, they were right where they were supposed to be for their time. However you look at it, Ride The Lightning was a semi-drastic statement to make on the heels of the much less polished, much more "indie" Kill 'Em All. Looking back from what we now know, it's almost too plain to see they weren't going to rest on underground appeal and respect. No, Metallica really had much more to offer metal as a whole. This was the real start of their reign over the genre, the foundation for all their success very quickly becoming a reality.
In terms of transitioning material, "Fight Fire With Fire" sounds like it would have fit in perfectly if this had been a more straightfoward continuation of Kill 'Em All. Apart from the somewhat foreboding acoustic intro, this is about as full-steam-ahead and up-tempo as the album will get. The title track, while no less heavy, relies more on hook and groove than speed and smash. It's a memorable track for sure, but almost seems like an afterthought as the bells begin to toll. "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is the type of early-year Metallica anthem that really, truly seperated them from the pack, a sign of their NWOBHM influence coupled with an aggression that almost seemed at odds, a dynamic they've only been able to grasp at in recent years. Even after this, "Fade To Black" does not fail to impress. For my money, it is perhaps the best piece of music Metallica ever conjured up, emotionally impacting and musically overwhelming. A strange sort of beautiful. The rest of the album has too much to live up to, but "Trapped Under Ice" and "Escape" are solid tracks in their own right. "Creeping Death" is even better, and "The Call of Ktulu" is a helluva instrumental, engrossing and powerful without any need for lyrics.
From album to album, it's a drastic change. While Master of Puppets would certainly show more polish, it's a fair argument to make that Ride The Lightning is the best of the best for Metallica, where their youthful aggression spiked alongside their songwriting swagger, and most of the pivotal pieces of this legendary band melded in just the right fashion. The only thing that keeps this from the vault is the fact that the following album would be perhaps the most influential album of it's time in the realm of metal...
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on 2011-11-06 gutterseed Said:
During a 5 hour drive to Kingman I hit "mix" on the stereo, just to see what would come up. Bauhaus, skip. Eminem. skip. Lil Wayne. Ok, I listened to "The carter III. After two songs I hit skip again. 3 Inches of blood? well I can't NOT listen to that album. I was concerned that nothing could follow 3". But then Ride the Lightning came on, and from Wickenberg on it was Metallica. You'd think that something so old would become monotonous. Ride the lightning never does.
Never a dissapointing album. Galloping guitarwork, hard hitting drums, a young Hetfield killing every note that escapes his vocal chords.
This album has several components that make it what it is. The guitarwork stands out as the main one. From Creeping Death to the call of ktulu. Each note and chord delivers a powerful punch that makes one of the greatest bands of Metal just that, a great band. That said, the album can't stand alone on just the guitarwork. The bass lines and drums synch up nicely. The songs transition nicely, proving that Metallica proved early on what they were, a great band with a cohesive and tight sound. One that hasn't changed, only grown. I listened to this album endlessly in high school prior to anything that involved being pumped up. Whether it was dropping in on a sketchy skateboard ramp or jumping my car on the Tucson backroads of Tucson,even doing the chores I really hated, Ride the Lightning makes you feel invincible. Even with a blown out driver side speaker, "For whom the bell tolls" isn't unnerving.
One can hypthoesize that every album has a skipworthy song with the temptation to push that skip button. Ride the lightning proves that theory wrong. I would never let this album sit in a vault, in fact, I'd take it to a desert island .