Sure, I could’ve chosen to do ‘Master Of Puppets’, but what’s the fun there? That album has been pored over and loved since its release. I wanted to do ‘Ride The Lightning’ for a couple of reasons. First of all, some of my favorite Metallica tracks are on here. Second of all, the album was released when I was a month old, so I feel a strange connection with it. So, join me readers, as we head back to 1984 to check out Metallica’s sophomore album.
I remember seeing Metallica for the first time at the Pontiac Silverdome. The concert began December 31st, 1999 and ended on January 1st, 2000. The opening acts were Sevendust, Kid Rock, and Ted Nugent. I remember Kid Rock sharing the stage with Joe C. I remember Nugent riding out on a buffalo and later shooting his guitar with a flaming arrow. And I remember Metallica melting my face off with songs ranging from the classics to their (relatively) latest hits from the Load and Reload albums. It was a show that was full of pyrotechnics, amazing light displays and a massive stage set-up. However, for those of you who have seen Metallica, you know that the real reason to see them is the energy and presence that they give off. They command the audience and play them as finely as their instruments. It would be another 10 years until I saw them again at the Joe Louis Arena.
‘Ride The Lightning’ played a vital role in my musical upbringing. While ‘Kill ‘Em All’ was a brutal onslaught of metal and ‘Master Of Puppets’ arguably fueled by need for more progressive metal, it was ‘Ride The Lightning’ that made me realize that metal could have beauty and deep emotion. Tracks such as ‘Fade To Black’ and ‘The Call of Ktulu’ stand out as examples of this kind of melodic metal. It’s easy to see how bands such as Dark Tranquility, At The Gates, Opeth, and more credit early Metallica as one of their biggest influences.
However, it would be remiss of me to not state that Metallica still rocked as hard and as furiously as they did on ‘Kill ‘Em All’. ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ and ‘Creeping Death’ are fast paced behemoths that go straight for the jugular, teeth bared and claws extended. It is because of this variety in the music that ‘Ride The Lightning’ stands out as one of the best Metallica albums.
The Final Word: 27 years old. Five times platinum as of 2003. ‘Ride The Lightning’ still commands as much intensity and immediacy as when it first came out.