First, I must say that “Ride the Lightning” is one of the best heavy metal albums ever released. The songs are incredible, the song writing is untouchable, and the lead guitar work is masterful. The standard issue Elektra Records version of Ride the Lightning WAS remastered by Elektra technicians back in 1995. However, after being remastered, the album seemed a lot less heavy and there seemed to be a “jagginess” so to speak in the overall sound. But this isn’t really noticable until you hear the near-perfect remaster by DCC.The difference between this and the standard issue CD is the overall sound of the music. The music now sounds like it was recorded especially for CD (which cannot be said for the Elektra version). The sound seems more polished and eliminates most of the “jagginess” in the sound, and the dynamics are accentuated perfectly. For example, the intro solo in Fade To Black now really blends together and sounds like it should – Kirk’s guitar work dynamically interlacing with the acoustic guitar (in the standard CD, the intro solo seemed detached somewhat). These things may not mean much to most people, but to me it makes listening to the album more enjoyable. Highly recommended if you have the money.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Metallica’s second album, 1984’s “Ride the Lightning,” was the first real metal album I ever bought. When I bought it, I was looking for a really heavy album, so when the first track began with an acoustic intro, I was sorely disappointed. Luckily, however, I skipped to the next song, the title track, and its booming intro brought a big smile to my face. Ah, nostalgia.
With 1983’s “Kill `Em All,” Metallica helped create thrash metal; but they followed up their debut with their sophomore album, which was released only a year later. Most metalheads have given it the credit it deserves, but I feel “Ride the Lightning” is still somewhat underrated, since the album that followed this one was “Master of Puppets.”
“Ride the Lightning” is still fast. Most of it shoots by like…well, lightning; but it’s slower, darker, heavier and more mature than “Kill `Em All.” James’ voice is somewhat lower than it was, and his lyrics are improved. As the above Amazon editorial review mentions, James discusses several different ways to die: Armageddon, capitol punishment, suicide, being trapped under ice, etc.
“Fight Fire with Fire” has the aforementioned acoustic intro, but it’s just a tease-it doesn’t last. The power chords fade in and the song becomes a breakneck speed, with rip-roaring, almost Slayer-esque guitar work. Lyrically, this songs seems to be about the Apocalypse.
“Ride the Lightning” is the album’s most popular single. It’s another thrashy number, with booming rhythms, fiery chug and churn riffs (which go from fast to faster to slow to fast), and an awesome, lengthy Hammett solo. “Ride the Lightning” has good lyrics about being executed by the electric chair, and it also has a surprise ending, but most of this song is an instrumental.
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is slower paced, but still loud and heavy. The first two minutes of this song is an instrumental, beginning with a bell ringing, then the heavy, repetitive, churning guitars kick in. This song has another good, winding solo near the end.
“Fade to Black” is really morbid because it has depressing, introspective lyrics about suicide. It begins with a distant guitar solo, but the acoustic strums actually make the first part of this song rather pretty. (Pretty in a dark and depressing way, but pretty nonetheless.) The choruses still have heavy riffs, and the end is an ascending and cascading solo.
“Trapped Under Ice” is very fast paced with another short but sweet guitar solo near the middle.
“Escape” has vocals which make it radio ready (it has good vocal hooks). Most of the song has propulsive riffs with thunderous drumming, but the choruses are slower.
“Creeping Death” begins with machine gun guitars and drumming, before changing to another fast beat with guitars that burn straight ahead. And, of course, there’s another stellar solo near the end.
“The Call of KTULU” is the album’s instrumental. In my opinion, this song IS as great as “Orion” (from Metallica’s next album, “Master of Puppets,”) and it’s a very good way to end the album. It starts out slowly and ominously with wind wooshes, but then it suddenly becomes a lot faster. This song builds well and has superb guitar and drum work.
So, this disc is another wonderful landmark album and it’s still one of the best C.D.’s of the past two decades. All of the qualities of a classic metal or thrash metal album are here: long songs (about 6 minutes per song), rapid fire riffs, ripping solos, an instrumental track, and even some acoustic guitar licks. In conclusion, if you want a complete metal collection, or if you just like heavy metal, you need this album more than you need your next breath.
This cd, like Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” was re-mastered by DCC and sounds just as awesome. I know many metallifans are skeptical about purchasing these re-masters, but to my ears, the superior sound quality is there and is noticeable. I have owned a recording of this album (Ride the Lightning) on either record or cd since 1984, and have heard it probably a million times since then. When I heard the remastered cd version today, I heard many things that I hadn’t heard before. For example: The clarity in the intro solo by Hammett on “Fade to Black, the way Cliff Burton’s roaring, howling lead bass was meant to stand out on “The Call of Ktulu”, crisper drums and background vocals on “Creeping Death” and “Trapped Under Ice” are just some of the many sonic improvements on this cd. I understand that it’s a lot of money for a cd that most people who are fans of the band already own. But if you are a long time or serious fan/collector, this is a true must have. If you are on a tight budget, or think the standard cd sounds good enough, don’t bother. The cd also features re-packaging just like the original album (right down to the original megaforce records label in the upper right hand side of the back cover), though the differences are minimal from the standard issue cd, but noteworthy to the serious fan. I can only hope and pray that the horrendously recorded “And Justice For All” receives a similar treatment in the very near future.
An amazing sophomore effort, Metallica showed they could not only top the debut album “Kill ‘em All” but produce a record that perhaps replaced some of the raw edge the first album had with more polished track listing. Don’t misunderstand me, if anything these songs showed that the band was improving in their technical structure and overall approach at delivering harsh, hard hitting songs that were dark in theme and spectacular in guitar work.
Released in 1984, RTL is an album with 8 tracks and featured founding members James Hetfield on vocals, Lars Ulrich at drums, Kirk Hammet on lead guitar and Cliff Burton on Bass. Burton was replaced years later after getting killed from an accident in Sweden when the tour bus flipped on an icy road.
It’s Heavy, its fast and its furious. The track starts off with an almost oriental sounding guitar piece that quickly launches into the song “Fight Fire with Fire”. Fire is a thrash masterpiece and amidst the flurry of guitars is the thunder of drums, as well as Hetfield’s almost demonic delivering of choppy vocals, which emphasizes power in each word as much as possible. There is some great guitar work just on this song alone, and amidst the speed parts there are nice changeups that offer difference within the tone and overall feel of the song, which in turn gives it more diversity and builds up for a superb ending. Then you get the monster intro for the title track, which is another gem all its own. “Ride the Lightning has a great opening riff by Hammet that is heard off and on throughout the song. The songwriting on this album is superb as we can clearly hear the story of the electric chair’s recipient being played out before us. The gothic “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is stoic as it gongs an old church bell at the beginning of the song, which quickly leads into a wide range of guitar work. A stomping, marching beat is installed as well, and the power riffs on this one are some of the best on the album. This song features more melodic, doomy guitar parts as well that hit some great high notes as they escalate into an anxiety type mood that finally drops into the main part of the track.
Oh yes, track four is “Fade to Black” and one of those songs you can’t miss! They slow it down into a mournful slow song that has beautiful guitar parts that are layered well. My review of this melodic and dire track won’t do it justice. It’s not all melody and swooning however, as it assaults into some frenzied guitar pieces that are very heavy, and also a song that I feel you can appreciate the bass of Cliff Burton a little more.
“Trapped under Ice” is just a regular and great thrashing tune that never slows down and yes, has a story to it that is pretty grim. The guitars on here are extremely fast, and as Hammet goes 100mph on six strings, Hetfield belts out the lyrics “No release from my cryonic state/What is this? I’ve been stricken by fate/Wrapped up tight, cannot move, can’t break free/Hand of doom has a tight grip on me”.
“Escape” tones down the high angered vocals a tad, as it is a song that rolls along before getting to one of the best chorus parts I have heard. The tones and sound when they start into the chorus:
“Out of my own, out to be free
One with my mind, they just can’t see
No need to hear things that they say
Life is for my own to live my own way”
The ends of each sentence are carried out farther and are done with a great style that really made this chorus and this song yes, another gem. At the end it breaks off into a final goodbye of riffs as a siren (like one of those POW Camp type) starts going off in the distance. Overall, it is a song I still enjoy hearing to this day.
“Creeping Death” is another thrash gem, which features Hammet in full force at lead guitar. It is a haunting and powerful track that also has a lot of diversity in chorus and overall structure. The album rounds out with a song based on the Lovecraft mythos in the famous “The Call of Ktulu”. You will see the spelling of Ktulu vary from Metallica’s to Lovecraft’s and other sources as well. This track starts out with a melodic guitar peice that dances along a doom laden soundscape before revving up into an aggressive assault of guitars that progresses further on with the original intro’s riffs. Louder and louder it climbs and eventually you are hearing a masterful instrumental track that clocks in at over eight minutes long. This was also the first instrumental in which all the members played together, giving it that much more power. Overall a five star album that is sometimes under appreciated by many fans as it sometimes sank between the lines between the debut smash hit “Kill ‘em All” and the masterpiece that was “Master of Puppets”.
When I first bought this album, it instantly became my favorite. I thought it was incredible, and that nothing could ever touch it. Well, since then I have changed my mind. I have found a lot (but not a whole lot) of albums that are just as good as this one, and even better. But, make no mistake, this is one of the greatest albums ever made, for sure. When the acoustic intro to “Fight Fire with Fire” starts out, you might think you bought the wrong album, but then the heavy guitar hits you like a ton of bricks, and before you know it, you’re thrashing around, destroying everything in sight. The guitars are very tight, and awesome solos abound. Cliff’s bass is very menacing (if not a bit hard to hear). Lars doesn’t stand out much, but he does a pretty decent job. There isn’t a bad moment on here, but the highlights would have to be the classic “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, the amazing ballad “Fade to Black”, and, one of the greatest thrash songs ever, “Creeping Death”. It all amounts to what is simply one of the greatest thrash metal albums ever made. There is a great deal of argument as to which Metallica album is the best. Many seem to think that “Master of Puppets” is the best, but I am very adamant in my decision that this is their finest moment. If pressed, I would say that this one and MOP are close to equal. I certainly prefer this one to “Kill Em All” and “And Justice for All”, but MOP is a very close call. Anyway, if you love great metal, this is one album you should definitely buy. If you like this album, and want to hear more great metal, I would recommend “Powerslave” by Iron Maiden (which came out in the same year as RTL, by the way), “Reign in Blood” by Slayer, “The New Order” by Testament, “Among the Living” by Anthrax, “Peace Sells…” by Megadeth, “Cowboys from Hell” by Pantera, and anything by Iced Earth. Man, this was great metal. I wish more people did stuff like this today.