(Metallica Week) Metallica: Ride The Lightning (1984)

Amazon has yet to deliver my new Metallica album so I will continue on with a daily Metallica post. There may be a few twists and turns, and a few sort of Metallica but not really aspects, but on this cold day I thought an old school Metallica album review would warm you up.

Fight Fire With Fire – Ok. This one is a stumper. It’s like the riddle about what came first, the chicken or the egg. What I am referring to is the guitar work at the start of this song. Which came first, this song or The Last In Line by Dio. The guitar work sounds so similar, and both albums came out in July 1984. The Dio album was released a few weeks before Ride The Lightning, but I am more interested in which band recorded first, and even more so, did they get to hear recording demos from the other. Who knows. Maybe both bands were listening to No Woman No Cry and decided to start a metal song that starts off in that style. Either way, we as fans get treated to 2 great songs. They both start off slow, then we either get blasted by thrashing, balls out, cranked up to 11 guitars or Ronnie James Dio’s wicked vocals “We are coming HOME!!!!!!!!!!”  For as melodic as the song is, James’ vocals seem a bit choppy with a bunch of stops and starts. Lars does a pretty damn fine job of drumming here. Fast and precise.

Ride The Lightning – The guitar work has a Judas Priest sound to it. The drum work here is good, but sounds a bit muffled at times. James sings in a higher tone and does his best Rob Halford impression. I can bet they don’t do this song in concert anymore. There is no way James can even come close to hitting those notes now. His voice is way deeper and much more growly now. I can bet this song was mistaken as a Judas Priest song back in the day, which in my books means it’s pretty good.

For Whom The Bell Tolls – This song joins exclusive company as an amazing song with bells chiming off in it. Hells Bells, Black Sabbath, Hallowed Be Thy Name and this one. Top 4 right there. No need to try and search any others. There are these 4 and all the rest. Kind of like the members of the Jamaican relay team vs. everyone else. No competition. This song has amazing guitar, drums, bass and vocals. Also technically this song is amazing. The intricacies of the song are amazing. Oh, and did I mention how awesome the guitar is?

Fade To Black – Pretty tough to follow a near perfect song. How would Metallica do it? The only way they could follow it properly would be to record another near perfect song next. They have done that here. The mellow acoustic guitar mixed with quiet but piercing electric guitar sounds amazing. The acoustic guitar in the middle is the best Metallica have ever laid down onto tape. The mix of soft and hard in this song is equivalent to going on a date with 2 women on the same night, without either knowing of the other. In one side of the bar, a soft spoken blonde that speaks eloquently, and is a great person that likes quiet nights in, documentaries and jazz. On the other side is a fiery redhead all dressed in leather. “She likes concert blisters, and leather boots. And knows one fact, her act is to get loose.” My dating days are long over, and even if they weren’t I don’t think I’d want those 2 women to find out about each other. Fade to black indeed.

Trapped Under Ice – The guitar work has a real 80’s feel to it.  I do not mean this in a bad way, as I love 80’s metal. This song comes after 2 near perfect songs in a row. It is not near perfect, but pretty damn good in its own right.

Escape – The beat in this song remind me of Enter Sandman. I wonder if the band were listening to this groove as they recorded the Black Album. It has a harder edge than Sandman, and James’ voice has more of a bite.

Creeping Death – Great drumming begin this one off. The early guitar work reminds me of possibly my favourite Ted Nugent songs, Dog Eat Dog. It wouldn’t be the first time a metal band borrowed from a classic rock band, and won’t be the last. Later on the thrash style rears its wicked head. James’ voice is in peak form here. I can bet if he were blessed with 3 wishes, that one would be to get this sound back.

The Call Of Ktulu – More acoustic guitar begin this one off nicely. After a minute Cliff Burton joins in with his unmistakable bass tone. Then all hell breaks loose. Kirk wails, Cliff booms and Lars pounds (that’s what she said) all while James goes and gets himself a beer. It may be kind of risky to end an album on an instrumental song, but Metallica are no mere mortals. This is a killer song.

I didn’t mention Cliff as much during this review. That wasn’t a slight on purpose. He is just always there on this album. For me to say Cliff was awesome here, and wicked there would be like telling you the sky is blue and the grass green. He will always be considered one of the best bassists in metal, and some may consider him right up there with the best of any genre. Look up the list of the best Cliff Burton songs ever and there are a bunch from this album.

The album is killer and no filler. Not a bad song in the bunch. A few songs better than the rest, nut only because they are right up there with the best of all time.




8 thoughts on “(Metallica Week) Metallica: Ride The Lightning (1984)

  1. J. says:

    Excellent write-up. I really like this one… given Load and the ‘Black Album’ were the first Metallica albums I heard, this was a real surprise to me. Loads of great tunes on here…

    Liked by 1 person

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