Why Ride The Lightning is Metallica’s Best Album

 

Metallica Ride the Lightning

Photo: By Saad Faruque from Bangalore, India (James Hetfield) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How time flies And speaking of how time flies let’s celebrate the thirty eight year anniversary of “Ride The Lightning” by discussing whether this is the best Metallica album ever recorded!

Ride The Lightning marked the important maturation of the band’s musical style. One major reason for this is the replacement of former Metallica bassist Dave Mustaine by Cliff Burton. Burton’s contribution to the songwriting process led Metallica members to experiment with different tempos and song structures.

While their first studio album Kill ‘Em All sounded more like an angst thrash garage band record, Ride The Lightning had remarkably more mature, calmer thrash sounds, closer to the sounds of their thrash Gods counterparts Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth.

Ride The Lightning also has some of the group’s most melodic songs ever, most notably Fade To Black, For Whom The Bell Tolls, and Creeping Death. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich (man, do I love his drumming) also became remarkably more mature in his control and variation of the beats in this album compared to Kill ‘Em All.

The lyrics in this album are as usual haunting, aggressive, sometimes passive-aggressive, and dark. Metallica frontman James Hetfield recalled losing his favorite Marshall head cabinet in a robbery, which inspired his woeful lyrics in Fade To Black, his first ballad ever:

“Life it seems will fade away     

Drifting further everyday

Getting lost within myself

Nothing matters no one else…”

That’s surely not the worst it can get. Listen to Creeping Death and tell me you don’t feel a funny sensation going down your spine when the Metallica members chanted “Die! Die! Die” as if they were possessed.

Metallica sounded a whole world more mature in Ride The Lightning compared to their debut album, Kill ‘Em All. Cliff Burton’s knowledge on music theory and guitar harmony contributed tremendously to Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield’s signature duo-guitar solo tone. According to LoudWire, Burton showed Hammett and Hetfield how basic guitar harmony worked, and how to augment core notes with complementary counter-melodies to enhance their guitar solos.

Cliff Burton himself contributed to the group’s evolution in style and sound. By playing with his fingers instead of using a pick, he allowed for more fluid and seamless bass lines.

The band’s maturity is also evident in the combination of skillful acoustic rhythms and shredding electric solos, such as in Fight Fire With Fire and Fade To Black. Fade To Black has my favorite Metallica intro ever, combining delicate acoustic tunes with a subtle change in colors from dark to almost sarcastically bright, followed by a firm and crisp electric entrance. Finally, Hetfield’s seemingly aloof and emotionless vocals topped it off just perfectly.

The Call Of Ktulu also had an amazing intro with a shredding distorted wah sound joking along a nice and clean melodic rhythm, followed by a flawless key change further along the instrumental track. I must say the appropriately applied contrast between light and dark, clean and distorted, innocent and twisted is what amazes me the most about Ride The Lightning.

Final words

I personally think Ride The Lightning is simply the best Metallica album ever recorded. Its sound marked the full maturity and the official entry of the Metallica signature tone. It was the band’s way of announcing they were not just a thrash band, but one of the best bands the world had ever seen.

Tracklist

Fight Fire With Fire

Ride The Lightning

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Fade To Black

Trapped Under Ice

Escape

Creeping Death

Call Of Ktulu

Why Ride The Lightning is Metallica’s Best Album article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business or any organizations is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at end of article.

DMCA.com Protection Status

One Response

  1. Avatar Anonymous October 14, 2021

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Maroon 5 Songs
Top 10 Maroon 5 Songs
Charles Brown Songs
Top 10 Charles Brown Songs
Easton Corbin Songs
Top 10 Easton Corbin Songs
Lead Belly Songs
Top 10 Lead Belly Songs
Blue Oyster Cult Albums
Top 10 Blue Oyster Cult Albums
Rolling Stones Albums
Top 10 Rolling Stones Albums
Van Halen Albums
Top 10 Van Halen Albums
10 Best Final Albums Released By Classic Rock Artists
10 Best Final Albums Released By Classic Rock Artists
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Interview
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Brings Backroads Blues Festival To Bethel Woods NY
Sammy Hagar & The Circle Release New Single "Crazy Times."
Sammy Hagar & The Circle Release New Single “Crazy Times.”
Best Websites To Buy CDs and Vinyl
Best Websites To Buy CDs and Vinyl
David Gilmour The Beatles
David Gilmour’s Great Cover Of The Beatles Here, There and Everywhere
Don Kirschner Rock Concert
Before MTV, There Was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert
Rock Stars Appearing And Selling Their Songs Out In Commercials
Discovering U2
Discovering The Band U2
Classic Rock History Rock And Roll Quiz # 4
Classic Rock History Rock And Roll Quiz # 4
Vulgar Display of Power – Pantera : Album Review
Electric Light Orchestra's Out Of The Blue Album
Why We Loved Electric Light Orchestra’s Out Of The Blue Album
Brian Eno Taking Tiger Mountain
Brian Eno Taking Tiger Mountain: Album Review
Frank Zappa Trilogy
Zappa Trilogy Review: Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt, Orchestral Favorites
Devo Albums
Complete List Of Devo Albums And Discography
Jennifer Hudson Albums
Complete List Of Jennifer Hudson Albums And Discography
Children Of Bodom Songs
Top 10 Children Of Bodom Songs
Harry Chapin Albums
Complete list Of Harry Chapin Albums And Discography