Ride the Lightning
METALLICA

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METALLICA - Ride the Lightning cover
4.43 | 196 ratings | 15 reviews
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Album · 1984

Filed under Thrash Metal

Tracklist

1. Fight Fire With Fire (4:44)
2. Ride the Lightning (6:32)
3. For Whom the Bell Tolls (5:09)
4. Fade to Black (6:49)
5. Trapped Under Ice (4:04)
6. Escape (4:22)
7. Creeping Death (6:36)
8. The Call of Ktulu (8:44)

Total Time: 47:03

Line-up/Musicians

- James Hetfield / Rhythm Guitar & Vocals
- Kirk Hammett / Lead Guitar
- Cliff Burton / Bass
- Lars Ulrich / Drums

About this release

Label: Elektra Records
Release date: August 15th, 1984

Thanks to metalbaswee, UMUR, diamondblack, Unitron for the updates

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METALLICA RIDE THE LIGHTNING reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
Welcome to Thrash-terpiece Theater!

On today’s episode, the very first entry in the timeline is the prodigious second offering RIDE THE LIGHTNING by the 1980s thrash-sters of the universe: METALLICA! This album was released all the way back in 1984. George Orwell didn’t see this one coming! While the exact beginning of thrash metal has remained elusive with some claiming it appeared as early as 1974 on Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy” with elements appearing in the works of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and ultimately bands like Venom and Anthrax, it isn’t hard to pinpoint just exactly where all those metal attributes that would constitute a new metal subgenre would coalesce into the perfect storm. METALLICA are the winners with their outstanding collection of eight tracks that they blended with a brilliant mix of rapid percussion, shredding crunchy riffs, speed of light tempo, pure metal attitude all topped off with classical music underpinnings to create a melodic distortionfest of epic proportions.

RIDE THE LIGHTNING was only METALLICA’s second album but a huge improvement in about every way. While “Kill Em All” certainly mastered the art of thrash riffing, pummeling rhythms and not-a-middle-finger-left-to-give attitude, the album was clearly lacking the melodic nuances that were introduced on this one. RIDE THE LIGHTNING offers up all the thrash deliciousness and aggressive fury but adds a healthy dose of diverse dynamics and a major expansion beyond the one-dimensional approach of the debut. Not only are there classical guitar arpeggiated chords that serve as intros and more progressive songwriting techniques but there was also a major leap in the philosophical lyrical content with more thoughtful subject matter as heard on the classic “For Whom The Bell Tolls” which was entirely inspired by the Ernest Hemingway novel about the horrors of the Spanish Civil War,” which brilliantly begins with the tintinnabulation of bells as the guitar riffs slowly build up in intensity until it becomes a fully formed thrash behemoth.

“Fight Fire With Fire” begins the album’s magic with a classical clean guitar arpeggio that must have thrown fans of the first album for a loop and then ruthlessly and suddenly bursts into full thrash fury that sets the pace for the entire run of the album and a testament to the more mature songwriting on track one only continues through the eight outstanding tracks that make up this musical chef-d’oeuvre. “Fade To Black” debuted the softer side of METALLICA where they created perhaps one of the very first thrash ballads that begins with an acoustic guitar intro that would become a distinct METALLICA staple that would decorate future releases (such as “Welcome Home” or “One”.) The technique of a softer intro followed by a harder edged sound was nothing new in the greater world of rock and metal, but METALLICA successfully tackled the dilemma of how to make it happen in the burgeoning world of extreme metal.

As the album churns on delivering one catchy melodic tour de force after another with such thrash classics as “Trapped Under Ice” and “Escape,” the true cream of the crop actually comes towards the end with the combo effect of the Biblical inspired “Creeping Death” which lambastes the listener with tales of Egyptian plagues in cahoots with the ultimate instrumental closer in the form of “The Call Of Ktulu.” This final juggernaut is really the display of musical brilliance in action and a perfect display of sound dynamics, tempos, time signature changes and the fusion approach of both classical music with hardcore heavy metal. The many moods that are contained in the nearly nine minute run also display the progressive rock influences that would continue to develop into ever more complex tracks on future albums.

James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Cliff Burton and Lars Ulrich didn’t only create the world’s first bona fide thrashterpiece, they also hurled the entire extreme metal world into a much larger audience that allowed the genre to grow exponentially until METALLICA themselves would burst onto the world’s stage as one of the biggest metal bands in history. RIDE THE LIGHTNING isn’t only important from a historical standpoint. I can respect an album’s influence and still not find it a terribly interesting listen. On this album all of the ingredients on board are perfectly blended together with stellar songwriting, flawless performances and exemplary examples of how to blend disparate musical genres into a seamless whole. METALLICA took the extreme metal world by storm with this one and single handedly opened the doors to the endless stream of bands to follow. While i do prefer “Master Of Puppets” and “And Justice For All” for their increased progressive complexities, RIDE THE LIGHTNING has the perfect raw metal energy from the debut mixed with just enough of the new ideas to put this in its own little transitional state of perfection.

This concludes today’s episode of Thrash-terpiece Theatre. Please tune in again.
martindavey87
It's hard to believe how much Metallica's music had matured within a year of their debut album ‘Kill 'Em All’. With plenty of clean guitars and intricate harmonies, this is a band that has grown tighter and stronger as time went by. James Hetfield seems to be more confident as a singer here, and the band all-round seem a lot more comfortable with where they are headed musically. The lyrics are better thought out and the songwriting as a whole is a lot more complex and established than what we heard on their previous record.

Though some of these songs are instant classics, such as ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’, ‘Fade to Black’, ‘Creeping Death’ and ‘The Call of Ktulu’, there are still a couple of tracks lingering around to fill up space, in particular, 'Trapped Under Ice' and 'Escape'. A fact shown true by the band themselves, who never play these songs live. And let's be honest here, is there anyone who can actually claim that their favourite Metallica song is ‘Trapped Under Ice’? Didn't think so.

With that said, the odd filler or two do not take away any momentum from the album, which flows smoothly all the way to the end. One of the biggest heavy metal albums of all time, there’s enough diversity here that non-metal fans may even like what they hear.
Warthur
Showing an incredible degree of musical development over the comparatively simplistic Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning sees Metallica exorcise the ghost of Dave Mustaine from their sound and establish their own technically proficient brand of thrash. Not afraid to incorporate the occasional quiet, gentler moment into the music, as on Fade to Black, the album finds the band less interested in empty metal posturing as on its predecessor and filled with confidence. And they have plenty to be confident about, with all-time thrash classics like The Call of Ktulu, Creeping Death, and the title track under their belt. Simply put, this is essential metal.
UMUR
"Ride the Lightning" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US thrash metal act Metallica. The album was released in August 1984 by Elektra Records. After the success of their debut album "Kill ´em All (1983)" the band was expected to release something equally groundbreaking with their second album and "Ride the Lightning" is indeed a big step forward for Metallica in every possible way. Rather than staying in the US to record the album Metallica went to Denmark to record with prolific Danish producer Flemming Rasmussen (Blind Guardian, Morbid Angel among others) at the Sweet Silence studios on Amager (an island outside Copenhagen). Three singles were released with the album in "Fade to Black", "Creeping Death" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls". The album has at this moment in time sold more than 5 million copies in the US alone. It´s noteworthy that former guitarist Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) is credited for co-writing the two tracks "Ride the Lightning" and "The Call of Ktulu" which suggests that those songs (or parts of the songs) were written even before the release of "Kill ´em All" (apparently The Call of Ktulu was featured on an early demo called "When Hell Freezes Over").

The music on "Ride the Lightning" is a lot more sophisticated than the music on "Kill ´em All" and it´s a lot more varied too. The layered guitar work is impressive and innovative, the songs are cleverly composed with more than a few twists and turns and with an improved sound production too "Ride the Lightning" actually comes off as a rather mature effort by a band that were still very young. Regarding the sound production it´s very strong for the time. The production is way ahead of it´s time IMO and I can´t seem to recall any other thrash metal album from that early in the eighties which featured such a professional sound production.

The three songs chosen as singles "Fade to Black", "Creeping Death" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" are all thrash metal classics in my book and as far as I recall they´ve played those three songs every time I´ve seen Metallica live. The rest of the songs are strong compositions too (even though I don´t appreciate the awful staccato vocal rythm in the verse of "Fight Fire with Fire") but I don´t count any of them as classics. The instrumental "The Call of Ktulu" starts the tradition of long instrumental songs on Metallica´s eighties albums.

The level of musicianship has increased greatly since the debut and Kirk Hammet´s guitar solos are more varied and melodic this time around which is a great treat IMO. James Hetfield´s voice still sounds a bit imature but there is a notable difference between his performance on this album and his performance on the debut. Overall the band´s performance is tight and powerful.

"Ride the Lightning" spawned what I think of as three thrash metal classics and greatly increased Metallica´s popularity. It´s considered a seminal thrash metal album by many and rightly so. I still think there are a couple of tracks that aren´t on par with the best material on the album. Tracks like "Fight Fire with Fire", "Trapped Under Ice" and "Escape" aren´t exactly classics in my book and my rating drops slightly because of those tracks. Still a 3.5 - 4 star rating is warranted.
Stooge
Ride the Lightning is one of those metal albums that in most circles is an undisputed classic. It’s undoubtedly a classic album, but there are a few factors that keep me from branding Metallica’s second album as an essential release.

The quality of the material on this album takes a bit of a dive towards the middle of the album, with the songs that I would consider as subpar being “Trapped Under Ice” and “Escape”. “Trapped Under Ice” is a rather thrashy tune that should please all simply wishing to bang their head at break-neck speed, but structurally this song always felt a bit jagged and rough around the edges. Not a terrible track by any means though. “Escape” is a rather odd track. The verse and chorus don’t sound like a match to me. This track was definitely not suited for the band’s style at that point. That being said, the intro riff is rather cool, and reminds me of Mercyful Fate.

As for the rest of the album? You won’t hear many complaints from me, other than the fact the instrumental “The Call of Ktulu” drags a bit towards the end, but is otherwise a fine composition. “Fight Fire With Fire” and the title track kick off the proceedings in glorious, thrashing fashion. The next two songs have deservedly become Metallica classics. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is a testament to the power of a simplistic, spacious song, with an emphasis on heaviness and atmosphere over speed. “Fade to Black” was a departure from anything the band was known for at the time, but proved to be rather successful. Many thrash bands from this point onward would look here as inspiration on how to write a successful metal ballad. The album spawns a third classic track with “Creeping Death”, which contains some of the bands best riffing ever. The chorus is highly enjoyable as well, and the song always works well when performed live.

Ride the Lightning is a great album that I’d easily recommend.
bonnek
If Metallica's debut had revealed only little of the direction Metallica was heading for, their sophomore effort leaves little room for doubt. Their intensity and harshness were maintained, but the band had become much more versatile in ways to express it.

The speedy opener Fight Fire with Fire stays true to the debuts method: loud, aggressive, fast, vicious and uncompromising. It's one of their best songs in this style, but Metallica's qualities lay in another direction. Where Megadeth and Slayer proved to be better contenders for speed and evil, Metallica had the knack to write big dramatic epics. They were not only authentic enough for thrash fans but also sufficiently catchy, musical and accessible to attract people from outside the inner circles of the metal underground.

Metallica learned an important lesson in the year since their debut. Metal isn’t just about aggression and speed but also about power and heaviness. Ride The Lightening achieves this by varying the edgy riffing with slower drum rhythms. For Whom The Bell Tolls goes even a step further and comes close to epic doom metal. Tony Iommi must have been proud hearing this one.

Fade To Black introduces acoustic guitars and quality balladry in the verses. A thundering chorus and great harmonic leads make it into another metal classic. Trapped Under Ice returns to the speed idiom of the first album. Escape is the odd one out on this album, it’s a catchy and almost anthemic hard rock tune with a great 70’s vibe despite the thrashy riffing.

If the previous onslaught of elevated metal wasn’t enough, Creeping Death adds another classic to the list. The album ends with the instrumental Call of Ktulu, a definite progressive moment. This isn’t just a succession of metal riffs or a jam with guitar solos. It’s a carefully crafted epic monster that goes through a number of developing themes with a distinct proggy feel. It won’t beat Rush’s Villa Strangiato for me but it has a similar feel.

The big arenas that Maiden was filling back then were lurking at Metallica’s horizon. Coming from the same year as Maiden’s Powerslave, I would have a hard time picking a 1984 metal favorite, but this is sure my Metallica fovorite.
poslednijat_colobar
A Thrash Metal Classic

With Ride the Lightning begins the best period in Metallica's history, which will last about two more studio albums. It's amazing how a band can mature so much only for a year. It's necessary a lot of talent to do such an achievement. After the debut album, which I consider as amateurish, Ride the Lightning can satisfy much more the musical fan. All songs are much better than on Kill 'Em All. The production and musicianship are of high quality. The genre is much more polished and pure thrash metal. The album consists of some classic Metallica's songs, including my favourite - The Call of Ktulu . The album contains a lot of progressive themes, that make big influence on future arising progressive metal genre. Surely above 4 stars, rounded up to 4,5 stars!
The Angry Scotsman
An album of progression for Metallica, this was a step from the pure thrash of Kill Em All and one towards more complex and composed music. It is still thrashy, and can be much thrashier than Kill Em All! Unlike KEA which can get a bit dull with it simple open E string tremolo picking, and power choards, Ride the Lightning is a bit more complex with its riffing which is not only nice, but makes it more intense. Of course there is Lars' simple, (though effective enough) drumming, Cliff's bass playing which can be good but honestly mirrors the guitar really, (I noticed he often played the role of musician and not virtuoso) and James' scruffy vocals.

Fight Fire With Fire. Starts off differently from KEA but throws us into some intense thrash. Good riffing, and Kirk's decent but unspectacular solos. Vocals can be a tad annoying at times.

Ride the Lightning. A good mid tempo song, at least for a while. Song has some decent variation.

For Whom the Bell Tolls. A slower song, this is one of those really good Metallica songs that does not get too much talk. Not the most technical/complex but it is very well constructed. More musical and well composed then technical and mind blowing. Really good.

Fade to Black. My favorite song on the album. More than that, it is my favorite Metallica song. Yes. Take For Whom the Bell Tolls, but make it better. A slow, more ballady song that is wonderfully built. The flow is great. One of those songs where if I just lay back and absorb it, really gives me a chill. A beautiful heavy metal ballad, but not like those cheesy crap hair metal ones. Metallica's finest point.

Trapped Under Ice. Of course we have to have a good juxtaposition and go right into thrash after that. Metallica's album layout, (though not a big deal really) can be a bit bland and predictable. I mean 4th song ballad? Look out for that in the future... Anyway, this is a good thrashy song, filled with solos and a nice middle section to mix it up. Good, but honestly not anything special.

Escape. The worst song on the album. It's not that bad, but its certainly not real good. Simple, real simple song. A bit boring.

Creeping Death. Luckily, we rebound here. Good song layout with some pretty good riffing, some variation, well composed and some interesting music.

The Call of Ktulu. The last Mustaine song written, (at least in terms of making it onto albums) should be no surprise this song is quite complex and progressive. This 9 minute instrumental has some great dual guitar work, lots of clean guitar, long mellow (and fairly minimal) sections and has a real progression to it. No section A, B, A, B, C here. This song really feels like it moves. A challenging song, very well done!

This is very good album. It can be more intense then KEA ever was, it can be beautiful. This album was a step in the right direction for Metallica. A thrashy, complex, and well composed album. Trapped Under Ice and Escape are weak songs, and I usually don't bother to listen. Some parts can drag a bit. Standout tracks: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Call of Ktulu, and their Magnus Opus, Fade to Black.

Four and a Half Stars
Conor Fynes
'Ride The Lightning' - Metallica (7/10)

Regardless of it's chronological significance as a turning point in the crossover between progressive and metal music, 'Ride The Lightning' represents a turn for Metallica to a more intelligent, complex form of music. While I have never truly considered myself wto be a fan of Metallica and their music, this is an album I can appreciate. It's probably not as enjoyable for me as it is for those who actively enjoy Metallica, but I can definately see the talent this band has.

But why not a masterpiece? First of all, this album lacks the sheer enjoyment and emotional factors that a 5 star rating would warrant. One of the main problems I've had with Metallica is their lack of emotional content. Hammett's soloing style can get annoying, seeing as it's more or less lackluster blues-influenced shredding. Talented, but hollow.

Also, some of the songwriting could have been much better with a little bit of touching up. For example, the chorus of 'Fight Fire With Fire' can get exasperating, and (arguably) the most progressive song on the album; the Lovecraft inspired 'Call of Ktulu' passes me as being a tad repetitive, especially for a song that clocks in at almost 9 minutes long.

My main problem with Metallica has always been James Hetfield's irritating holler... However, in 'Ride The Lightning,' his voice works, at least for the majority of the album. There's nothing special about his shouting style, but at least for this release, it doesn't necessarily detract from anything.

Then there are songs like 'Fade To Black,' which really stand out as being epic, even brilliant. There's alot of references to the works of horror author H.P Lovecraft in 'Ride The Lightning' which I found contributed to my appreciation of the content (Lovecraft being one of my favourite authors.) In this way, the topical content generally passed me as being rather progressive in nature, and intriguing.

Overall, it's more of an album for fans of metal. If I was rating this album solely on metal merit, I would be more willing to give it a five-star rating. However, from a progressive standpoint, 'Ride The Lightning' remains very significant, but just not mind-blowing or enjoyable enough to warrant a perfect rating.
AtomicCrimsonRush
I played this to death when I first got hold of it in 1984. It still retains it's power to pummel the senses.

I heard the opening track on a radio metal show, 'Fight Fire With Fire' and was mesmirised by the sheer ferocity of the breakneck riffs. The way it begins with an acoustic intro has become a standard trademark for metal albums. The lyrics were simple 'the ending is near, bursting with fear, we all shall die.' Obviously bleak but it was all tongue in cheek really. Optimism where needed and just the correct dosage of pessimism as Metallica spit out at social injustice and the fact that Armageddon is nearing - the end of the world was a popular theme that became part of metal mythology.

'Ride the Lightning' continues the theme of death from a more localised point of view. A man sentenced to the chair screams out at his injustice at being killed for his crimes. Or is it a dream? Metallica are never really clear on this but the point is this is a headbanger's dream. Brutal, simple riffs put to a complex arrangement of light and dark textures.

'For Whom the Bell Tolls' is the sleeper on the album that quickly became a crawl metal classic - a fan favourite that translated brilliantly to live shows. The riffs are easy but the way they are arranged gives the track a masterful sense of doom, complete with clanging bells and fuzzed bass notes.

'Fade to Black' is a 7 minute track that begins quietly and emotively sang and switches time signatures to a massive finale with crunching guitars and screaming solos. The 80s had never encountered anything like it. Even the critics had to sit up and take notice.

'Trapped Under Ice' is one of the lesser known Metallica tracks, rarely played live - it is as straight forward as it gets - just played fast, with nasty lyrics of entrapment and fear, a common theme, and when it ends you know you have another head banger.

'Escape' is another track that feels more throwaway but it is still better than anything on 'St Anger'.

'Creeping Death' is absolutely brilliant with searing lead breaks and a complex metrical pattern that shifts in many directions. The content focuses on the pharaoh of the Bible who said he would not let Moses' people go and therefore was plagued by locusts and firestorms until the final culmination of the creeping death - the angel of death that takes the souls of the firstborn sons, including the pharaohs. An excellent lyric performed with relish from Hetfield backs up the tantalising relentless riffs. It is the best track on the album and I live the ending with all the variations of the main motif that sound fresh and as exciting even after the 50th listen.

'The Call of Ktulu' is a 9 minute instrumental that is as good as 'Orion' in content and structure. It moves in many different directions and works beautifully live with a symphony orchestra as on 'S & M'. I once did not even listen to this very much, but now I realise it is the proggiest track on the album and not really for metal heads. It was a brave move for Metallica to include it but it stands the test of time as being one of the best of prog metal.

I can only conclude by stating that this second album is one that any metal band at the time would have died for. It put the name of Metallica on the lips of all metalheads, and it paved the way for the piece de resistance with 'Masters of Puppets'.

Members reviews

kluseba
In comparison to the innovating but ultimately rather closed minded debut record, Metallica's Ride The Lightning is a big step forward for the band. In only one year, the band explored new terrain without abandoning its roots and went further than any other band of the genre at the same time. This album is a milestone and has not even lost a glimpse of its charm nowadays. Anybody that contests this is simply a disappointed hater that didn't like the direction this band would later take.

The classic introduction to the perfect opener "Fight Fire With Fire" is the first surprise and a very good idea to contrast the aggressive and powerful head banger. The band also developed its technical skills as the brilliant guitar solos in the title track "Ride The Lightning" easily prove. The legend goes even further with the atmospheric doom thrasher "For Whom The Bell Tolls" that sounds very inspiring to me. The half ballad "Fade To Black" proves for the first time that the band can write very emotional, insightful and calm songs and are not only a great thrash metal band. Each of the first four songs is completely unique, adds something new to the sound of the band and justifies the great reception and high rating of this milestone.

The second half of the record is only slightly weaker. "Trapped Under Ice" is a powerful but rather generic thrasher. "Escape" is a little bit slower and is rather a melodic heavy metal track with some thrash roots that sounds as if it was heavily inspired by the more melodic New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement. The song is catchy and less heavy than the other ones and could have been a great single output. "Creeping Death" has the high quality of the first half of the record and is another memorable moment of the thrash metal history and an unforgettable live classic. This song has a lot of power and emotion and convinces with its juvenile charm. "The Call Of Ktulu" proves that there are some great and often still underrated musicians in the band but the song has not the high class of the later instrumentals or the stunning uniqueness of Burton's memorable bass solo from the first output. It's still a pretty decent and diversified track that could please to fans of thrash, heavy and maybe even progressive metal without the glimpse of a doubt.

In the end, this great record deserves the legendary status it has today and is one of the biggest milestones of pure thrash metal. On this album, we can already detect that the band would go on a more diversified and experimental path in a few years and try out something new from time to time. This record unites the energy of the juvenile first years and the more complex experiments of the following records in a perfect way and should please to any Metallica fan as it is also easily in my top three albums of this band.
criticdrummer94
With Metallica's second album, I love how nice and mellow it starts on Fight Fire with Fire before it just kicks in and really destroys. Metallica really improved not just in sound but musicianship, songwriting and arranging on this one. The songs are 5x better than the previous which were pretty good too. They really gelled as a band at this time and really showed. This is probably my 2nd favorite Metallica album and for good reason. They really proved they could truly play and not just thrash all the time but could also have melody and slow down every once in a while. Overall, this is a phenomenal album and recommend this one as your start into Metallica. 5 stars. Highlights: Fight Fire with Fire, Ride the Lighting, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Fade to Black, Trapped Under Ice, Creeping Death and The Call of Ktulu
friso
Metallica - Ride the Lightning (1984)

This thrash-metal album is perhaps my favorite of the genre. The sound of the band is amazing and the song-writing had become way more innovative and even melodic than on the debut. The albums has some metal-classics like For Whom the Bell Tolls, Fade to Black, Creeping Death and of course Metallica's first progressive metal epic The Call of Ktulu.

The rock'n roll and punk influences of the debut were excluded and a modern thrash metal sound saw the daylight on this album. Fight Fire with Fire is even pointed at as the beginning of the speed-metal genre. The musicianship is very strong, but the main ingredient of this album is still the memorable song-writing for me. Songs like For Whom the Bell Tolls and Fade to Black are very sticky and have an emotional impact. Another favorable element of the album is the fact it doesn't have a weak track.

Conclusion. A great thrash-metal album with some amazing song-writing and musicianship. The impact of tracks like Fade to Black and The Call of the Ktulu make this a special record within the genre. A very innovative and important record for the genre, but it also influenced the progressive metal quite a lot. Four and a halve stars.

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