Album Review no.13: Ride the Lighning - Metallica

kempokid Metallica is one of those bands that I've always held in much lower regard than most people. This album is in my opinion, the second most overrated album of all time and I honestly don't understand how so many people believe that it's one of the greatest albums of all time, or even the best by Metallica.

Fight Fire With Fire:
First of all, the acoustic intro feels like a complete gimmick, as it doesn't sound particularly impressive at all. This intro doesn't fit at all with the rest of the song on top of the fact that it isn't even good. The instrumentals are ok, but I really feel like this song is an extremely by the numbers thrash piece, except James Hetfield keeps droning on, barely putting any effort into his vocals. I hate everything about this song other than the absolutely awesome chorus, which is the only thing stopping this song from getting an even worse score

Ride the Lightning:
This song definitely has a couple of things going for it, the intro is the best one by Metallica full stop, no contest. The riff is also pretty good. My issue with the song comes in two waves, first of all, I hate how the chorus sounds, after the great vocals in the verses, the chorus sounds extremely bad, with James once again droning on lazily, sounding awful. I really don't like the second half of the song either, with nothing of any interest happening at all. Also, has anyone else noticed that the riff in the solo sounds almost exactly the same as the one from the View in their Lulu album? I found that one quite funny. This song could have been so much better if James sounded good in the slightest during half of this song, but in the end, it fell apart thanks to the vocals and uninspired second half.

For Whom the Bell Tolls:
This song is the first time on the album which I can find some kind of evolution from their debut. The intro is absolutely stunning in every respect, I love every second of it, even if it goes on for over 2 minutes. All of the instruments actually sound good in this one and the vocals are exceptional. There is one unfortunate detail that stops this from being perfect though, and that is that the song is made to be an epic, but only goes for 5 minutes, 2 of which are taken up by the intro. Never have I felt this strongly about an incorrect length for a song, if Iron Maiden made this song for example, they could have easily made it 7 or 8 minutes long and it would have been even better.

Fade to Black:
Everything about this song works amazingly. It shows that ballads don't have to be simple and easy to play, as the amount of shredding in this song is surprising. The balance of light and heavy is also on point, which I find to be quite admirable, as I don't think that Metallica have ever been able to strike this level of perfection again in terms of the balance found here, it isn't the best song they have ever done, but it definitely is the most polished one. I honestly don't find the solo to be as mind blowing as everyone else does, but it is still great. I also find the instrumental section to have just as much emotion put into it as the vocals, which is a lot in this case.

Trapped Under Ice:
The opening riff is very dull and uninteresting, I also didn't appreciate the solo right before the vocals. I find this song to be very similar to Damage Inc. which is one of my least favourite songs from Master of Puppets. I think that the performance by everyone is of high quality, but the song itself is unbelievably boring and forgettable, to the point where it's one of the 2 songs that I don't remember anything about on this album, this is more uninspired than Fight Fire with Fire, but it isn't as offensively bad in my eyes. I don't mind the chorus, but I even fail to remember that without listening to it, which is what I do as I write reviews.

This is the song that Metallica absolutely despises, and it isn't difficult to see why. The song has an extremely commercial sound to it, even more so than a lot of the stuff in the black album or Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast album. I also can't get my head around how awful the inconsistent beat is, it can definitely work in some cases, like Dream Theater's Dance of Eternity, the issue is that it doesn't fit anything else in this album and is distracting. Nothing else in the song even comes close to saving it either, as there isn't a single memorable part in its entirety.

Creeping Death:
This is easily the bet song on the album, it shows off why Metallica can be so amazing as they walk that fine line between traditional metal and thrash. Even on their original album, easily the most raw sounding one by them, it is still a lot more melodic, accessible and restrained compared to your average thrash album, meaning that they can also be somewhat more technical. This song is one of the best by Metallica ever, and probably fits nicely into my top 50 songs of all time. As well as the riff being amazing, the vocals are at some of their best here. The solos are very good and the chorus is absolutely amazing and surprisingly melodic for the way the rest of the song is. However, the reason that this is such a perfect song is that absolutely perfect bridge, the riff in it is epic and James singing "Die by my hand" is easily Metallica's finest moment.

The Call of Ktulu:
I've always had a soft spot for purely instrumental tracks, provided they are done really well. They usually allow for much more freedom as they don't have to be able to support the vocals. This is the best instrumental by them for sure, it's creepy, yet absolutely awesome. Considering that Metallica still had Cliff at this point, I find it very strange that this is the first song that I can truly say has Cliff taking centre stage. I find the main riff to be awesome and the weird screeching noises in the background to add even more to the song. This is a song truly worthy of Cthulhu.

4 + 2*5 + 6 + 9 +3*10 + 2*7.375 = 74/100

Final Thoughts:
I really don't like this album, while it has a couple of great songs, it is the most inconsistent of the first 5 albums by a landslide. So many songs are just outright terrible that I just can't recommend it at all. If you want a truly great Metallica album, stick to Master of Puppets and Kill 'Em All.

Next album that I'll review will be one of my favourite albums of all time, Blackwater Park by Opeth


That's the lowest rating I've ever seen for that album lol - visitor

I just personally think that half the songs on this fall flat. I'm not just saying this because they are Metallica, this is just genuinely my least favourite classic album by them. and 7/10 is still decent - kempokid

Yeah. Never been a massive thrash metal fan anyway. I prefer power metal and death metal - visitor

I disagree overall, I do love RTL, but it’s not even in my top three Metallica albums. For me it goes:
1. Death Magnetic
2. Load
3. Master Of Puppets
4.The Black Album
5....And Justice For All
6. Ride The Lightning
7. Kill ‘Em All
8. Hardwired...To Self-Destruct
9. ReLoad
10. St. Anger
11. LuLu

Still a good review even though I disagree. - visitor

I knew that if there was going to be a review that people would kill me for, it would either be this or anything by the Beatles. So, thanks for being cool about it and simply stating your own opinion. I personally would rate Kill 'Em All much higher and Hardwired somewhat higher, drop Death Magnetic a couple of places. Either way, thanks for reading the review, since you're back now, I'll review Somewhere in Time soon, after I get 2 other albums out of the way that I've already written some of. - kempokid

Cool, I’ll probaby review Lateralus and 10,000 Days soon, and I’ll cover a few others as well. - visitor