Metallica’s debut Kill ém All was by all accounts the album that ushered in thrash metal as we know it, but it was their second album Ride The Lightning that put them above everyone else. No offense to any other metal bands from the eighties but this is the album that made it all possible. From the simplicity of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” to the complexity of the Dave Mustaine penned “Call of Ktulu” you knew upon first listen that this album was special. Cliff Burton really had his first hand at truly writing with Hetfield and Ulrich plus Kirk Hammet now had a tour with the band under his bullet belt and could go a little more nuts with the solos. Master of Puppets took every idea from this album and made it timeless, but it was Ride the Lightning that showed the world who Metallica really were. Oh and it was their first album for major label Elektra Records and it’s success allowed a ton of other real metal bands to get signed.
“I remember “Fight Fire with Fire” and “Fade to Black” were finished in the basement of a friend’s house in Old Bridge, New Jersey. I think it was this guy called Metal Joe [Chimienti]. Before we went to Europe to tour and eventually record in Denmark, we stopped on the East Coast to play some shows. We knew we needed to finish some of these songs.
We had most of “Fade to Black,” except the end part were the solo happens, and I came up with that there. I remember we were writing “Trapped Under Ice” there too. We were using that fast Exodus riff, and James came up with the chorus and I added that whole middle instrumental part.Ride the Lightning was written in a few places: the house in El Cerrito, New Jersey, Copenhagen, and down in L.A. before James and Lars moved up to San Francisco.”
Album: Ride the Lightning
Released: July 27. 1984
Recommended Listening: Fight Fire With Fire, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Creeping Death, Fade to Black
Ride the Lightning finds Metallica aggressively expanding their compositional technique and range of expression. Every track tries something new, and every musical experiment succeeds mightily. The lyrics push into new territory as well — more personal, more socially conscious, less metal posturing. But the true heart of Ride the Lightning lies in its rich musical imagination.