Monday, July 28, 2014

Metallica - Ride the Lightning

Yesterday (July 27th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Ride the Lightning, the second studio album from Metallica. This multi-Platinum seller went to number 87 in the UK, number 78 in Switzerland, number 40 in Norway, number 38 in Australia, number 32 in New Zealand, number 22 in Sweden and number 9 in Finland. Here in the US, it spent fifty weeks on the Billboard Album chart and peaked at number 100.

Side one starts with “Fight Fire With Fire”, a Biblical approach to ever-building vengeance that yields to a worldwide Armageddon. The opening guitar has a solid harmony to it, musically, before shifting into a thundering all-out storm. The explosive ending is the perfect capper.

“Ride the Lightning” tells the tale of a man on death row, facing death by electrocution. This one appropriately crackles with a raw energy, and the guitar solo about two-thirds of the way through is cool.

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel of the same name. Both deal with the subject matter of war and aspects of the shear violence and dishonor that can appear during it. This track was released as a promotional single. I really got into the extended instrumental opening on this track.

The ballad “Fade to Black”, also a promotional single, touches upon thoughts of suicide.

Side two opens with “Trapped Under Ice”. The song has a sci-fi/horror spin as a man wakes from a cryogenic sleep only to find he is alone and helpless.

“Escape” is up next. Compared to what came before, this one actually has a bit more of a commercial sound to it. That is not a bad thing; I just not it because it makes the track stand out from the rest. I like how they incorporated the siren effects in the background near the end.

The only commercial single from the album was “Creeping Death”. Its roots are in the Bible, from Exodus 12:29, with lyrics telling of the plagues that besieged Egypt.

The nearly nine minute long instrumental “The Call of Ktulu” closes the album. It gets its title from horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu short story that appeared in Weird Tales magazine in 1928.

This was my first listen to Ride the Lightning, and I rather enjoyed it. Metallica, and metal in general, is not something I listen to with much regularity (though we have hit a bunch of metal albums this past month from 1984, eh?). However, it is something that is good to shake things up with every now and again.

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Kris Shaw said...

This album is a work of art and has long been a favorite of mine. I was quite obsessed with this band as a teenager and played my cassette copy to death...then CD...and finally my now out of print and highly treasured gold disc CD!

HERC said...

I was a father of one before getting into Metallica via "One". Working my way backward through their discography, "Fade To Black" also appealed to me instantly and through the years it is probably one of my three most played Metallica songs. It's one of my go-to fight the dark clouds of depression songs and a helluva air guitar workout.