2011 Update :- So the review below sounds like a gleeful teenager who just discovered metal, and that is what I exactly was. I can’t really disagree with the whole thing because “Ride The Lightning” has since become my favourite Metallica album and maybe my favourite metal album of all time. At the time of writing the above review, I knew that what I was hearing was good, but I missed the point completely. I mentioned solos and rhythms, which are there obviously, and talked about the whole thing in a very mundane manner.
Hearing this again today drove me to note a few things on this old blog which will serve to be an archive of our musical journey through the years. I would like to direct your attention to “The Call of Ktulu” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Both suggest and embrace elements of life that horrify the modern world today. The inevitability of death and the consequences of our actions. “The Call of the Ktulu”, while directly paying homage to HP Lovecraft’s wild imagination (a man who deserves more respect than he actually gets from the literary world; a situation, ironically, which is directly analogous to authentic metal music) also points the beauty of nature. Notice the tone when it begins, outright horrific and oddly primeval, and then compare this with the resolution of horror and how it slowly transforms into realization that this very horror is beauty exemplified. Today we ignore the reality of nature and think that we can forever exist in this BMW loving, Mcdonald eating, share trading world where there are no consequences to any action and all things are resolved if that is what the newspaper on your doorstep tells you. We think we can live behind a screen, a seperate life which has no connection with reality, buy a house in the suburb, have kids and be happy forever. We think our reality is the only reality. Things like tsunamis and earthquakes are tragedies, global warming is horrific and should be stopped, but oh, let me buy that petrol guzzling car while I am at it, because that is my right, everybody has a car, and everybody is equal, so why shouldn’t I buy that car?
Tomorrow the world will be gone, civilization will be wiped out and the universe will go on. Time to get your heads out of your asses. That is what “The Call of the Ktulu” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” relate and glorify. All hail 1980 ‘s Metallica.
This is Metallica’s first masterpiece, and they laid down the blueprint that they would later follow on the Master of Puppets albums and then abandon on ..And Justice For All. HA! That’s a quick change. The thing I really like about them is that they kept adapting instead of working on the same blueprint over and over again. You just can’t do that. Not unless your bands name is Motorhead. You see, to keep doing one thing over and over and over again for 30 years, that requires talent.
Anyways, I’ll try to talk about the subject at hand, something which I don’t have the habit of. Ride the Lightning. Hmm. This album made me realize, and, if any one of you does not realize, will make you sit up too and say “Hey, I didn’t know that metal can be done this way too!” Metal is not all about trying to sound scary and lightning fast solos and speed and heaviness. Metal is a lot more my friends. Done right, metal results in rock’n’roll goodness, in fact musical goodness.
So what blueprint did Hetfield and his boys decide upon while making this album? It must have been something like this-
Opener-Nice melodic sweet intro to shock the people after which the song abruptly segues into an outright ass kicker of a song complete with great solos and stuff. (Fight Fire with Fire) The solos are not just the same laid on boring screeches that they were on the debut. Instead, the solos are really memorable throughout the album. A yay! For Kirk Hammett !!
Title Track- A 7 minute (approx) thrasher that neatly carries on the effect of the opener, albeit in a milder way. The journey has just gotten underway folks. We have the lightning fast solos, and also solos which are slow and more melodic to complement the rhythm section.
For Whom the Bell Tolls-This is a song which does not fit any blueprint nor can its goodness be described. In fact talking about this song is like dancing about architecture. The time signature and speed of the song, the ominous drumming and the rhythm section perfectly complement its subject matter. It paints a picture, friends, and if a song can do that then it has attained perfection. Yo yo yo !!!
The Ballad- A nice emotional ballad to fill out side one of the ass thrasher of an album (Fade to Black). Let me say that this song is good too.
Has three thrashers all with their own melodic strengths, the classic being Creeping Death, while the other two are not all that memorable. This side ends with a instrumental (Call of the Ktulu) that just pounds your flesh into powder and ends the wild ride.
Ride the Lightning !!!! Yyayyyayayyay !!!!
Gosh, I’m tired !!
Anyways, the bottomline is that this is a huge step up from Kill ‘em All. This album is light years ahead of that one. Eons. They have really matured as songwriters and their melodic strengths have just got way better. But, this is not it folks !!! This thrash goodness will just get better on the next classic Master of Puppets !! Stay Tuned !!