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Metallica - Ride The Lightning CD (album) cover

RIDE THE LIGHTNING

Metallica

 

Prog Related

4.08 | 529 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars 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.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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