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RIDE THE LIGHTNING

Metallica

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Metallica Ride The Lightning album cover
4.00 | 392 ratings | 27 reviews | 38% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fight Fire With Fire (4:44)
2. Ride the Lightning (6:36)
3. For Whom the Bell Tolls (5:06)
4. Fade to Black (6:53)
5. Trapped Under Ice (4:02)
6. Escape (4:22)
7. Creeping Death (6:36)
8. The Call of Ktulu (8:55)

Total Time 47:31

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- James Hetfield / vocals, guitar
- Lars Ulrich / drums
- Kirk Hammett / lead guitars
- Cliff Burton / bass

Releases information

CD Elektra Records (1984)

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METALLICA Ride The Lightning ratings distribution


4.00
(392 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(38%)
38%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(38%)
38%
Good, but non-essential (15%)
15%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

METALLICA Ride The Lightning reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Much better then Kill 'Em All. It makes me wonder if the guys that made this are the same that made Metallica's debut. . .

Only one year is what separates Ride the lightning and Kill 'Em All and each album represents a different band. Kill 'Em All is Metallica's rawest album, mainly because it was made by a garage band that was still forming itself, having members still joining and leaving it quite easily (Dave Mustang contributed with some songs for the album before he left Metallica to strive for his own band and interests), with youngsters that wanted to be extreme and badass, wile Ride the Lightning, though still a bit raw also, was made by a band that established itself, released an album, toured and gained experience with it and wished to do the same thing as before, but much better, and that was exactly what happened.

Ride the Lightning, although having some minor prog influences, is still a 100% thrash metal album. Here, the band was able to retain all the extremeness they presented in Kill 'Em All and improved it wile making their music way more complex and elaborate than before. The production and recording quality also improve very much, contributing with the change for the better. The changes are so drastic that even James Hetfield's vocals change, becoming more like his traditional vocals would be known.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

As far as musicianship goes, the guys of Metallica do not excel themselves in almost anything here, since this album is pure and straightforward thrash metal. The only possible exception to that is the song The Call of Ktulu, in which they show us the preview of what Metallica would eventually turn itself into.

The highlights go to Fight Fire with Fire, Fade to Black, Trapped Under Ice, Creeping Death and The Call of Ktulu.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Dramatic changing their music, Metallica was able to reach a much higher quality than they reached with Kill 'Em All and made Ride the Lightning be one of the most important albums in thrash metal. This album is terrific and very important, so it deserves the masterpiece grade.

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Posted Monday, October 13, 2008

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars I played this to death when I first got hold of it in 1984. It still retains it's power to pummel the senses.

I heard the opening track on a radio metal show, 'Fight Fire With Fire' and was mesmirised by the sheer ferocity of the breakneck riffs. The way it begins with an acoustic intro has become a standard trademark for metal albums. The lyrics were simple 'the ending is near, bursting with fear, we all shall die.' Obviously bleak but it was all tongue in cheek really. Optimism where needed and just the correct dosage of pessimism as Metallica spit out at social injustice and the fact that Armageddon is nearing - the end of the world was a popular theme that became part of metal mythology.

'Ride the Lightning' continues the theme of death from a more localised point of view. A man sentenced to the chair screams out at his injustice at being killed for his crimes. Or is it a dream? Metallica are never really clear on this but the point is this is a headbanger's dream. Brutal, simple riffs put to a complex arrangement of light and dark textures.

' For Whom the Bell Tolls' is the sleeper on the album that quickly became a crawl metal classic - a fan favourite that translated brilliantly to live shows. The riffs are easy but the way they are arranged gives the track a masterful sense of doom, complete with clanging bells and fuzzed bass notes.

' Fade to Black' is a 7 minute track that begins quietly and emotively sang and switches time signatures to a massive finale with crunching guitars and screaming solos. The 80s had never encountered anything like it. Even the critics had to sit up and take notice.

'Trapped Under Ice' is one of the lesser known Metallica tracks, rarely played live - it is as straight forward as it gets - just played fast, with nasty lyrics of entrapment and fear, a common theme, and when it ends you know you have another head banger.

' Escape' is another track that feels more throwaway but it is still better than anything on 'St Anger'.

' Creeping Death' is absolutely brilliant with searing lead breaks and a complex metrical pattern that shifts in many directions. The content focuses on the pharaoh of the Bible who said he would not let Moses' people go and therefore was plagued by locusts and firestorms until the final culmination of the creeping death - the angel of death that takes the souls of the firstborn sons, including the pharaohs. An excellent lyric performed with relish from Hetfield backs up the tantalising relentless riffs. It is the best track on the album and I live the ending with all the variations of the main motif that sound fresh and as exciting even after the 50th listen.

'The Call of Ktulu' is a 9 minute instrumental that is as good as 'Orion' in content and structure. It moves in many different directions and works beautifully live with a symphony orchestra as on 'S & M'. I once did not even listen to this very much, but now I realise it is the proggiest track on the album and not really for metal heads. It was a brave move for Metallica to include it but it stands the test of time as being one of the best of prog metal.

I can only conclude by stating that this second album is one that any metal band at the time would have died for. It put the name of Metallica on the lips of all metalheads, and it paved the way for the piece de resistance with 'Masters of Puppets'.

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Posted Monday, October 13, 2008

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Heavy Metal Thunder

After the ultimate raw energy of Kill 'Em All, where could Metallica go in their quest for World Domination (as recorded by the Music press at the time - Metallica were never modest in their aspirations)?

With Fleming Rassmussen on board, they skipped from the Metal equivalent of Piper at the Gates of Dawn, to the equivalent of Dark Side of the Moon.

For this album revolutionised Heavy Metal. Just as Kill 'Em All did.

Instead of a swaggering street brawler equipped with near-mystical black belt skillz, this is a more polished affair - from Metal Militia to Metal Mafia, you might say.

We still see the long songs - but they're longer. The complex compositional structures are more complex, the variation in approach and style is stretched almost to breaking point, and the techniques are more advanced, to the point that this is, to my ears, not only the first Progressive Metal album per se, but also the first technical metal album that combines technique with strong, accessible melody writing. The first purely technical album in this style was Megadeth's Killing is my Business and Business is Good, but that's a much less accessible album because of its tech focus.

And the mayhem begins with the very first track. That mellow, sharp-edged, clean cut guitar orchestra fools no-one - the tension is tangible before the increasing volume trick used on Kill 'Em All builds to a riff that makes Metal Militia sound like something by Black Sabbath on mogadons. Fight Fire with Fire is a twisting, turning, building burning effigy of mayhemic efficiency.

It SOUNDS like a thrash song, and it is. It uses the innovation of Venom's Mantas in the main riff - pedal thrased note supporting shifting accented chords - but with Lars Ulrich once again showing his dramatic flair, in a drumming style that marked Metallica out from their peers in the early days. Sure, it's nothing now, but then it was a big deal, and it's evident throughout this album, which is unique for the time;

Each drum hit is calculated, yet maintains the rock feel. Aggressive thwacks punctuate during the introduction, and a flying back beat drives and pummells. The ball of spikes is back - and it's bigger and badder.

On to the riff development - here we see a fantastic expression of this, that lives up to the famous Keith Emerson quote about Prog being music that turns itself inside out, upside down and whatever else he said. The chorus, if it can be called that, is essentially the verse riff played backwards, and the instrumental backing is a series of chords accented at precisely the right time, shifting subtly off the beat, and the sections are joined together with motifs created from the riffs themselves. It's exactly like Metallica found an alchemical way of writing - this is so far beyond ordinary metal song writing (and indeed, most Progressive Metal songwriting) that it's just not funny - and yet feels so natural, that Fight Fire With Fire sounds as fresh today as it did back in 1984. How can it possibly be 24 years old?

Basically, because this compositional style has never successfully been emulated, let alone bettered, except by Metallica themselves on their next album. It's essentially similar to what Iron Maiden and Diamond Head had done before - but never fully realised the potential in this way.

Ride The Lightning, the title track, goes above and beyond, and is easily the best track on the album from a tech/Prog standpoint, with its multi-part instrumental and crazily shifting riffs. Lyrically, it maintains the overarching theme of the album - I tend not to get overexcited by lyrics generally, but it's plain to see that there is commonality between all the songs here.

Musically, we are thrown 3 excellent ideas before the song even starts by way of intro, tritonic, angular and muscular, with obvious roots, but no obvious peers. The structure for the vocal sections is a kind of verse/mid section/chorus - but the harmonic suggestions in the riffs, and lack of clear separation between verse and chorus drive it forwards into the instrumental, which is where all hell breaks loose - a downwards descending thrashed riff leads to a vocal bridge, based motivially on the same ideas, riffs come back with changed drum tempos and punctuation, then the first guitar solo segment starts - a slow melodic idea, which picks up pace in the second segment before a variant of the descending idea throws us at neckbreak speed into the third, flying solo segment, and we're soon thrown into the fourth segment, based on a new descending idea, which changes key dramatically before reverting to the intial descending riff and back to the vocal bridge in a kind of mirror-image construction. This is all broken down into pounding drums, decorated and varied before a return to the verse/midsection/chorus parts. The riffs are varied again for the ending.

You want complexity in structure?

It really doesn't get much more complex than that!

And there are 6 songs to go...

For Whom The Bell Tolls seems like a simple little number, opening with the Black Sabbath bell and the Da-Da/Da- Da/Daaaaah! accents. But it's subtle, and the ideas worm their way around - first the descending guitar idea, then the derived descending bass motif that becomes the BIG riff - in every way a Classic in the same way that Paranoid, Whole Lotta Love and Smoke on the Water have classic riffs.

Then a new guitar idea is presented, and the power chords shift underneath, driving the harmony towards a new and even bigger riff before the verse starts, a full 2 minutes 6 seconds into the song! Ulrich punctuates and drives with an unerring instinct for pathos, even if his timing is a tad on the sloppy side - it doesn't matter, because this is a groundbreaking approach to writing a metal song. For the 3rd time on this album. The outro is full of screaming, wailing guitars over the accented riffs, punctuating drums and Hells Bell. Marvellous stuff.

Side 1 closes with the 4th major innovation in metal on this album. Fade To Black is Metallica's first attempt at a ballad, and, unlike just about everything they did in this vein in later years, it's fantastic.

The opening reminds me of Goodbye Blue Sky from Pink Floyd's The Wall, but Kirk's solo puts a new perspective on it, and the harmony shifts around, breaking the two-chord mould - something I'd really like to hear modern Prog Metal bands doing - shaping the melody, then using a dramatic fill to link to the second section of the intro, which presents the harmonic movement of the verse, but not the melody - a crafty technique.

Just as the verse starts to feel a bit lightweight and repetitive, Metallica throw us a heavy, chunking riff, based on the rhythmic and harmonic patterns of the acoustic sounding section - but this is all about expressing the song, which raises goosebumps every time that heavy riff is brought back.

Around 3:56, when your average metal ballad would have finished or gone into the burnout, Metallica throw a new riff at us and a two-part vocal/instrumental bridge, which is built up towards a new shifting harmony and twin leads for the burn-out - and what a burn-out! Kirk's guitar ideas tend to hang around the Lynyrd Skynrd, for better or worse - with maybe a dash or two of David Gilmour, before picking up the speed, as the whole edifice takes off and the fade happens all too soon - drat Mr Rassmussen!

We flip the vinyl for more Progressive Metallic Mayhem - Trapped Under Ice is my second favourite piece from a progressive standpoint - the harmonic shift from the first riff to the second, the craftily snatched accents, the shifting backbeats (and I'm sure that's intentional, and not Lars' bad timing!) at that breaknect speed is just impossible - and again, unmatched today. The riffs feed from each other, twisting, turning, developing, changing before your eyes with a slieght of hand matched only by David Blaine - never going off tangentially, just creating, creating and then more creating. There is not a note or accent out of place in the flow of this piece - it's the nearest to perfect that Metallica ever achieved for this unique style that they created. Interestingly, listen to how similar the main riff is to Ride The Sky by Helloween. It's just possible that the whole Power Metal genre was kicked off by this one track.

Escape is another amazing track on an album lousy with amazing tracks, an anthemic singalong nestling within the dark, twisting riffs with drum accenting born from nothing but the desire to create new music. The instrumental is another vocal bridge/developing riff/melodic solo fest - listen as those riffs shift the harmonic base, strip away the foundation, then pummel it back into place, and the melodic ideas shift crazily over the top.

Next up is the Epic, Creeping Death, which, like Seek and Destroy, I played to Death (sic) in my youth, and can hardly bear to listen to it now. It's fantastic, but a bit over-repetitive in the face of the other more substantial fayre on this album. Nevertheless, a Classic on an album crawling with classics.

To round up, The Call of Cthulu is every Progger's favourite. Mine too. A quite wonderful instrumental, with Pink Floyd inspired mellowness and Metallica inspired heaviness, dramatic pathos, snarly wah-wah bass and crafty invention all round - I really don't want to pin this one down with words - it would be like finding the most unique, amazing looking butterfly ever, then gassing it to pin it into your collection.

Call of Cthulu is perfectly crafted, like haut cuisine - and demands that every single mouthful is savoured to the max - and there are a lot of mouthfuls here - much too much to absorb on first listen. Every second is accounted for and a necessary part to the overall development of the music - nothing is wasted. This is not music of the street - although it is music born of the street. It is a well-oiled machine that crushes everything in its path, takes no prisoners, and has no match in the world of metal in the early 1980s - nothing that could possibly hold a candle to this behemoth.

It's slow to develop - but that's a large part of its charm - in a world of instant gratification, where it is known that chewing food too fast is bad for the health, the same can be said for music. Music that gratifies instantly is bad for the soul and leaves nothing but an empty craving, while music that is artistically dense and requires patient listening can leave the listener satiated and ready to live some more.

Which is exactly what this album does - you leave in the knowledge that you've just heard something truly special and unique, even if you don't follow all my musical analysis.

It is that fulfulling an album.

Yes.

I like this album.

A Lot.

So much that I'm desperate to award it the full 5 stars - in fact, I can think of absolutely no good reason not too.

Except that, somehow, I just don't FEEL it as a Masterpiece of Prog - unlike its successor...

4.99999999 stars - and I'm being really cruel not rounding it up.

I'm like that :o)

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Posted Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Review by ProgBagel
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Metallica - 'Ride the Lightning' 4 stars

I'm not a fan of Metallica, it just isn't my style, but when I listen to them it is a pretty good experience.

'Kill 'Em All' was a complete onslaught of metal, raw, fast and heavy. I loved the progression that didn't take any time at all by the time this album came out. The songs get longer, more complex and varied. The only song I wasn't too fond of was 'Escape', but the rest are pretty good. The most important song on here is 'Fade to Black'. James Hetfield still uses his grunty voice, but the music behind it on the acoustic guitar is so beautiful that it all sounds so perfect. This eventually builds up into a heavy chorus and even a whole other section to close out the track, giving this a definite proggy nature.

The other lengthy track included the highly praised 'Call of Ktulu', 'Creeping Death' and 'Ride the Lightning', which each had their own merits. 'From who the Bell Tolls' created a riff, although simple, would be recognizable to anyone that has crossed this band before. Like 'From who the Bells Toll's, Metallica's 'Ride the Lightning' album will be remembered also. An excellent purchase for a Metallica album.

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Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Review by crimson87
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Metallica's sophomore album "Ride the Lighting" is a step in the right direction for the band. Apart from the fast , typical thrash metal numbers they were used to create The band also show us a new aspect of their music which can be consider "proto prog metal"

The record opens with a really fast and agressive tune called Fight Fire with Fire. As usual with this band , I will say that Jame's riffs stole the show here. There are also some really fast bass lines and interplay between James and Cliff. Kirk's lead guitar is somewhat average in this song. The title track is much better , since it features longer instrumental sections like the ones found it the " Kill 'em All " album there is some soloing around the 2:30 minutes and one of my favourite Kirk solos of all time at 4 minutes. Lars drumming is typical thrash metal style much like early Kreator records.

For Whom the bell's tolls is one of the most progressive songs on this record and a live favourite of the band. This song has some twin guitar melodies in it's introduction pretty much like Thin Lizzy and it's probably the best Lars perfomance on this album. Next , we ll face a highlight on this album. The clear proof that Metallica evolved quite a lot from Kill em all to this point. Fade to black is a really inpressive song that includes an acoustic intro and good guitar lines by Kirk ( the outro to this song is one of the best moments this album has to offer)

Unluckily , the second side of Ride the Lighting is not a strong as the first one. Trapped under Ice and Escape are some of the lowest points in Metallica's 80's period ( Although they are masterpieces compared to the ones in the Bob Rock era). It's no wonder that the band rarely played them on stage. However there is an improvement with the early classic "Creeping Death" This song works for me in the same way some Powerslave tunes do , there is some Egyptian sounding and epic feeling on this tune although it's really fast and riff -based. The album closes with the lenghthy instrumental " The call of Ktulu". While this shows that the band is expanding their musical horizons , it does not work that well for me. Specially if we compare this song with better instrumentals like " Orion" or " To live is to die" those songs had multiple sections and abrupt changes , while Ktulu always bases around the same riffs and drumming style.

In my opinion , this record is a very interesting one. It's a pity that the sound quality is average and that there were some uninspired songs among other great numbers.

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Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Ride The Lightning' - Metallica (7/10)

Regardless of it's chronological significance as a turning point in the crossover between progressive and metal music, 'Ride The Lightning' represents a turn for Metallica to a more intelligent, complex form of music. While I have never truly considered myself wto be a fan of Metallica and their music, this is an album I can appreciate. It's probably not as enjoyable for me as it is for those who actively enjoy Metallica, but I can definately see the talent this band has.

But why not a masterpiece? First of all, this album lacks the sheer enjoyment and emotional factors that a 5 star rating would warrant. One of the main problems I've had with Metallica is their lack of emotional content. Hammett's soloing style can get annoying, seeing as it's more or less lackluster blues-influenced shredding. Talented, but hollow.

Also, some of the songwriting could have been much better with a little bit of touching up. For example, the chorus of 'Fight Fire With Fire' can get exasperating, and (arguably) the most progressive song on the album; the Lovecraft inspired 'Call of Ktulu' passes me as being a tad repetitive, especially for a song that clocks in at almost 9 minutes long.

My main problem with Metallica has always been James Hetfield's irritating holler... However, in 'Ride The Lightning,' his voice works, at least for the majority of the album. There's nothing special about his shouting style, but at least for this release, it doesn't necessarily detract from anything.

Then there are songs like 'Fade To Black,' which really stand out as being epic, even brilliant. There's alot of references to the works of horror author H.P Lovecraft in 'Ride The Lightning' which I found contributed to my appreciation of the content (Lovecraft being one of my favourite authors.) In this way, the topical content generally passed me as being rather progressive in nature, and intriguing.

Overall, it's more of an album for fans of metal. If I was rating this album solely on metal merit, I would be more willing to give it a five-star rating. However, from a progressive standpoint, 'Ride The Lightning' remains very significant, but just not mind-blowing or enjoyable enough to warrant a perfect rating.

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Posted Monday, March 02, 2009

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Ride the Lightning" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US thrash metal act Metallica. The album was released in August 1984 by Elektra Records. After the success of their debut album "Kill īem All (1983)" the band was expected to release something equally groundbreaking with their second album and "Ride the Lightning" is indeed a big step forward for Metallica in every possible way. Rather than staying in the US to record the album Metallica went to Denmark to record with prolific Danish producer Flemming Rasmussen (Blind Guardian, Morbid Angel among others) at the Sweet Silence studios on Amager (an island outside Copenhagen). Three singles were released with the album in "Fade to Black", "Creeping Death" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls". The album has at this moment in time sold more than 5 million copies in the US alone. Itīs noteworthy that former guitarist Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) is credited for co-writing the two tracks "Ride the Lightning" and "The Call of Ktulu" which suggests that those songs (or parts of the songs) were written even before the release of "Kill īem All" (apparently The Call of Ktulu was featured on an early demo called "When Hell Freezes Over").

The music on "Ride the Lightning" is a lot more sophisticated than the music on "Kill īem All" and itīs a lot more varied too. The layered guitar work is impressive and innovative, the songs are cleverly composed with more than a few twists and turns and with an improved sound production too "Ride the Lightning" actually comes off as a rather mature effort by a band that were still very young. Regarding the sound production itīs very strong for the time. The production is way ahead of itīs time IMO and I canīt seem to recall any other thrash metal album from that early in the eighties which featured such a professional sound production.

The three songs chosen as singles "Fade to Black", "Creeping Death" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" are all thrash metal classics in my book and as far as I recall theyīve played those three songs every time Iīve seen Metallica live. The rest of the songs are strong compositions too (even though I donīt appreciate the awful staccato vocal rythm in the verse of "Fight Fire with Fire") but I donīt count any of them as classics. The instrumental "The Call of Ktulu" starts the tradition of long instrumental songs on Metallicaīs eighties albums.

The level of musicianship has increased greatly since the debut and Kirk Hammetīs guitar solos are more varied and melodic this time around which is a great treat IMO. James Hetfieldīs voice still sounds a bit imature but there is a notable difference between his performance on this album and his performance on the debut. Overall the bandīs performance is tight and powerful.

"Ride the Lightning" spawned what I think of as three thrash metal classics and greatly increased Metallicaīs popularity. Itīs considered a seminal thrash metal album by many and rightly so. I still think there are a couple of tracks that arenīt on par with the best material on the album. Tracks like "Fight Fire with Fire", "Trapped Under Ice" and "Escape" arenīt exactly classics in my book and my rating drops slightly because of those tracks. Still a 3.5 - 4 star rating is warranted.

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Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
5 stars If Metallica's debut had revealed only little of the direction Metallica was heading for, their sophomore effort leaves little room for doubt. Their intensity and harshness were maintained, but the band had become much more versatile in ways to express it.

The speedy opener Fight Fire with Fire stays true to the debuts method: loud, aggressive, fast, vicious and uncompromising. It's one of their best songs in this style, but Metallica's qualities lay in another direction. Where Megadeth and Slayer proved to be better contenders for speed and evil, Metallica had the knack to write big dramatic epics. They were not only authentic enough for thrash fans but also sufficiently catchy, musical and accessible to attract people from outside the inner circles of the metal underground.

Metallica learned an important lesson in the year since their debut. Metal isn't just about aggression and speed but also about power and heaviness. Ride The Lightening achieves this by varying the edgy riffing with slower drum rhythms. For Whom The Bell Tolls goes even a step further and comes close to epic doom metal. Tony Iommi must have been proud hearing this one.

Fade To Black introduces acoustic guitars and quality balladry in the verses. A thundering chorus and great harmonic leads make it into another metal classic. Trapped Under Ice returns to the speed idiom of the first album. Escape is the odd one out on this album, it's a catchy and almost anthemic hard rock tune with a great 70's vibe despite the thrashy riffing.

If the previous onslaught of elevated metal wasn't enough, Creeping Death adds another classic to the list. The album ends with the instrumental Call of Ktulu, a definite progressive moment. This isn't just a succession of metal riffs or a jam with guitar solos. It's a carefully crafted epic monster that goes through a number of developing themes with a distinct proggy feel. It won't beat Rush's Villa Strangiato for me but it has a similar feel.

The big arenas that Maiden was filling back then were lurking at Metallica's horizon. Coming from the same year as Maiden's Powerslave, I would have a hard time picking a 1984 metal favourite. Both albums are crammed with classic progressive metal moments. I'd say Metallica would get the higher score for delivering the more diverse and more consistent album.

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Posted Friday, January 15, 2010

Review by poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A Thrash Metal Classic

With Ride the Lightning begins the best period in Metallica's history, which will last about two more studio albums. It's amazing how a band can mature so much only for a year. It's necessary a lot of talent to do such an achievement. After the debut album, which I consider as amateurish, Ride the Lightning can satisfy much more the musical fan. All songs are much better than on Kill 'Em All. The production and musicianship are of high quality. The genre is much more polished and pure thrash metal. The album consists of some classic Metallica's songs, including my favourite - The Call of Ktulu . The album contains a lot of progressive themes, that make big influence on future arising progressive metal genre. Surely above 4 stars!

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Posted Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review by jampa17
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The second shot, the previous step into a great level of songwriting.

I'm not fan of Metallica, but I have to agree that they really have a great concept back in those days and made a wonderful second album.

When you hear the introduction of the album, an acoustic guitar set the mood in a dark and melancholic orientation but you know that soon the heaviness will take the control and everything is about to come: heavy and creative guitar riffing, changes of tempo and speediness, aggression, tough vocals (maybe the most weak point at all) and good guitar solos.

If you have heard Metallica before and you decided that you don't like them, give this album a second shot. The songwriting is as good as the next two, Master of Puppets and And Justice for All, very well focus and oriented more in the mood than in the heaviness, which is always good. You can see that they started to developed different arrangements to each song and that everything works very good to entertain and give you a particular feeling about each track. The highlight depends of what you expect and want from this album. If you want heaviness you can count with Creeping Death or Right the Lightning. If you want more moody stuff, you have Fade to Black and Trapped Under Ice. The rest of songs are good as well, it all depends on your particular mood.

Well, in the other hand, the vocals of Hetfield are very limited and plain to say the least and that's the only weak point about this album (and about whole Metallica's discography). He is maybe the best riffing guitar player of history, but his vocals are really lame. Don't know, I can't appreciate those but still, the music really works above so you will entertain yourself with the music. If you like the vocals, that is really a plus. 4 stars is fair. Great album, in the best balance between metal and prog.

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Posted Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars You know, Metallica didn't really have to do this. In another universe, Metallica's second album, Metal 'til You Die!, would have been a typical sophomore slump, filled with tired rehashes of "Hit the Lights" and "Whiplash," and would have been loved by a very small number of fans but rightfully castigated by everybody else. The band would have broken up, Cliff would have gone to the Berkeley Conservatory, the other three would have formed a Megadeth tribute band, and there would have been a flop reunion with Dave in 1989. Instead of that, though, the band members took the raw materials of Kill 'Em All and used them as the starting point to practically create a new form of rock music that combined intensity, speed, group virtuosity, compositional skill and solid rock'n'roll power in concentrations that had never been this high all at once. No, the band hadn't become the absolute greatest in the world at any one of these facets, but in aggregate, Metallica briefly reached a place in rock music whose very existence probably hadn't even been considered by anybody else.

And dang it, the sound, not to mention the album, is still not perfect. James' singing is better than on the first album, but reverbed into oblivion, which makes it a bit hard to hear. The bass is mostly inaudible as a solitary instrument, though that doesn't really hurt things; it instead mostly latches itself onto the guitars to create what is close to the ultimate heavy guitar sound. And frankly, I still don't like "Trapped Under Ice" that much; there's a nice secondary riff that pops up in the middle, and some typically vicious soloing can be found, but it manages to sound kinda rote compared to everything else on the album. Oh, and "Escape," while not even remotely sucking, sounds a bit awkward when it suddenly transitions into a heavy "anthemic" pop song; it's still ok, though. So no, this album isn't going to break my top 100, it's not going to get the nod as Metallica's best, and it's not going to make me into a total metalhead all by its lonesome.

The other six tracks, though, are collectively amazing. I used to not like the title track much at all, and I'm still not blown away by it, but I've come to enjoy it a lot. The vocal melody could be better (though the lyrics are actually pretty good), I think, and the instrumental passages in the song seem a little too stretched out (on the whole) for my taste, but the riffs are definitely top-notch, and Hammett's solos really do a great job (especially in the second half) of creating a menacing, soul-crushing atmosphere. So yeah, it can stick around. And the other five tracks, well, I have no reservations on those whatsoever. The opening "Fight Fire with Fire" has an acoustic introduction (two guitars sounding like they might break into Scarborough Fair if we're not careful) that immediately demonstrates a light-years' advancement in maturity from Kill 'Em All, and it's not just the very presence of an acoustic sound (which was nowhere to be found on the debut) that makes me say that. Rather, it demonstrates the band's sudden mastery of contrast, the willingness to use lighter touches as necessary (even to almost comical degrees, as in the introduction to this album) to bring out the power of their heavier passages that much more, to increase the impact on the listener's psyche. Of course, the song could have fared just fine without the introduction, but it's just one more thing to mention. And holy mackerel, this song rules. The ultimate key is not in the speed and power that James, Kirk and Cliff get out of their various guitars, though that certainly helps; it's that they're playing BONE-CRUSHINGLY AWESOME RIFFS with this speed and power, and that the speedy Kirk soloing also throws in some beautiful (yes, I said beautiful) harmonics in the second half. I also love the lyrics; these lyrics take apocalyptic themes to their basest and most ludicrous extremes, and in conjunction with this has-to-be-mechanical-but-somehow-isn't instrumentation, they work amazingly for me.

After the title track, we come to a glorious track (which I sadly first heard elements of in Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest; I have way too many weird mental associations with that game) that's as sophisticated a pounding heavy metal assault as I can imagine. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" also, in addition to a series of AMAZING riffs and crunchy guitar sounds that Black Sabbath would have murdered for back in the day, contains some of the very best lyrics I've ever heard from a metal band ("For a hill, men would kill; why, they do not know" is my favorite). Also, the Kirk line that first pops up about a minute in gives me a chill every time I hear it, and he's typically magnificent through the whole piece. Following, then, is Metallica's first ever step towards selling out (not that I really care); I mean, "Fade to Black" could have fit on Metallica with only a minimum of editing and rearranging, don't you think? It's one of the very great anthems of wanting to die, with well-used dark acoustic guitars driving the song forward and heavy distorted ones popping up whenever necessary. And guess what, James sounds way, way better on this song than anywhere else on the album. The ending guitar solo passage is awesome, too.

After hitting a bit of a standstill on side two with "Trapped Under Ice" and "Escape," we come to my second favorite of the album. Simply put, whenever I read the passage in Exodus about God sending the destroying angel to slay the first-born Egyptian children for the final plague, I fill the compulsion to listen to "Creeping Death," a brilliant song that glimpses the story from the perspective of the angel himself. The "main" riffs are incredible, but it's the middle riff, the one that goes with the "DIE! BY MY HAND! I CREEP ACROSS THE LAND, KILLING FIRST BORN MAN!" lyrics, that takes the cake as possibly the greatest mid- song (not belonging to the rest of the track, I mean) riff I've ever heard. And the creepiness factor in the solos, oh gosh, stop me before I plotz myself.

Moving to the end, I would say that to merely refer to the closing "Call of Ktulu" as a great metal instrumental is almost to demean it; this just a great piece of music, period. Ok, maybe the main theme goes a little too long before switching gears, but I don't really notice at all when I'm listening to it. All I notice is gorgeous guitar harmonics playing a menacing, tension-laden buildup that almost works like a metal version of the midsection of Yes' "Awaken" or the lengthy passage in King Crimson's "Starless" (though "Starless" is out of this track's league, frankly, great as it may be), culminating in a fine instrumental climax worthy of anybody's attention. Anybody who doubts Metallica's collective intelligence, at least as of 1984, after hearing this track just doesn't see the world as I do.

In short, this isn't a perfect album, but many of the songs are just unbelievable, and the overall sound is truly something to behold. I'd go so far to say that anybody who doesn't rate this as one of the best (at least top 50, come on people) albums of the 1980's, even if they're not a metalhead in general, needs a serious cranial adjustment. And needless to say, this is an essential part of any decent hard rock and heavy metal collection.

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Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Metallica - Ride the Lightning (1984)

This thrash-metal album is perhaps my favorite of the genre. The sound of the band is amazing and the song-writing had become way more innovative and even melodic than on the debut. The albums has some metal-classics like For Whom the Bell Tolls, Fade to Black, Creeping Death and of course Metallica's first progressive metal epic The Call of Ktulu.

The rock'n roll and punk influences of the debut were excluded and a modern thrash metal sound saw the daylight on this album. Fight Fire with Fire is even pointed at as the beginning of the speed-metal genre. The musicianship is very strong, but the main ingredient of this album is still the memorable song-writing for me. Songs like For Whom the Bell Tolls and Fade to Black are very sticky and have an emotional impact. Another favorable element of the album is the fact it doesn't have a weak track.

Conclusion. A great thrash-metal album with some amazing song-writing and musicianship. The impact of tracks like Fade to Black and The Call of the Ktulu make this a special record within the genre. A very innovative and important record for the genre, but it also influenced the progressive metal quite a lot. Four stars.

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Posted Monday, June 21, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars Even though I've been a metalhead ever since I can remember, Metallica has never been one of my idols. I'm not debating whether they deserve their status as one of the, let's say, top five metal bands of all time since history will most probably prove me otherwise. All I want to do with my reviews is to give you an understanding for the metal upbringing that I went through and how I ultimately got to where I am today.

Sweden and Scandinavia, in general, are not considered to be the best places for touring bands to go since the distance between the biggest cities is way too long and only the biggest acts can afford to take on such a diversion from their tour of the mainland Europe. Instead, the usual route of a smaller band's Europe tours consists of the biggest cities in France, Germany and U.K.. All this is irrelevant when it comes to three acts, for us here in Sweden, and the performers I'm referring to are 1). Bruce Springsteen 2). Iron Maiden and of course... 3). Metallica. The fan bases for these three acts here are gigantic and it was/still is almost impossible to get tickets to these shows unless you camp outside the ticket sale stands... days before the tickets went on sale!

Naturally this weird fanaticism will get to your head when you're a young kid growing up in this climate. Every respectable rock fan is almost forced to keep at least an album by all three of these acts, which is a mentality that really used to bug me back in the day. I've never been much for illogical herd behavior and always tried to see a wider picture wherever I explored new things. That doesn't mean that if people enjoy something that everyone else does that they are automatically brainless zombies or anything like that. I'm sure that many of these fans truly love these bands. What I'm aiming at here is the lack of enthusiasm of exploring anything outside of the norm set by the environment around us!

I've given all of these bands a fair chance to impress me but didn't find anything there that could not be substituted and, most importantly, improved on by other lesser known artists. This doesn't mean that I don't like anything by these artists and Metallica's Ride The Lightning is a perfect example of just that! Made during the classic post-thrash metal era in the band's history, Metallica actually carved out quite an experience with these 8 lengthy compositions. The opening 4 tracks are some of the best pieces composed by the band and have it not been for the two fillers, called Trapped Under Ice and Escape, then a 5-star rating would have been in order.

As it stands today this is a great Metallica album which I originally considered second only to ... And Justice for All, but my history with this music actually made me appreciate this album a lot more with time. Today, this is easily my favorite Metallica album even if it doesn't pass the requirements of being anywhere near my top 100 favorite albums.

***** star songs: Fight Fire With Fire (4:45) Ride The Lightning (6:37) Fade To Black (6:57) The Call Of Ktulu (8:54)

**** star songs: For Whom The Bell Tolls (5:10) Creeping Death (6:36)

*** star songs: Trapped Under Ice (4:04) Escape (4:24)

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Posted Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars That old sophomore stumble again

Those in my circles always placed "Ride the Lightning" as above the debut album and equal in stature to "Master of Puppets" but nowadays I find both conclusions wrong. The debut album just smokes this often boring, contrived beast, and Master would be a quite large improvement over it. Metallica clearly had the ambition here to move forward in their quest for domination, and one can hear the supposed improvements in production as well as the attempts to branch out with more complex songwriting. But the loss of the debut's grit and energy are not replaced by anything that holds my attention these days. This would not be the case on Master which still strikes me as a monster fun metal album. Here I can point to only "Fight Fire with Fire" and "Creeping Death" as highlights that kick my ass. The former has a cool acoustic opening before tearing into a nice thrashy mess and Creeping has an epic feel to it, nice development and punch. But other like "Bell Tolls" and "Ktulu" are lumbering and tired. Even the title track which starts out pretty good just drags on and on with a Hammett solo that is all show and little else. With regard to "Escape" I can only say I've heard better tracks from some of the old guys I used to hang out with, wake me when it's over James. The artwork here also fails miserably, as cheesy as it gets. Metallica really do not excite me too much so it's probably best to disregard my brief opinion piece here, but my recommendation would be to acquire "Kill 'Em All" or "Master of Puppets" for the best Metallica. Then of course Burton was sadly lost and while the band would find great commercial success, it connected even less with me post-Cliff. I'd like to give this three stars for Fire and Creeping but when I look at the other six tracks I can't call it a "good" album.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#359008) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Showing an incredible degree of musical development over the comparatively simplistic Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning sees Metallica exorcise the ghost of Dave Mustaine from their sound and establish their own technically proficient brand of thrash. Not afraid to incorporate the occasional quiet, gentler moment into the music, as on Fade to Black, the album finds the band less interested in empty metal posturing as on its predecessor and filled with confidence. And they have plenty to be confident about, with all-time thrash classics like The Call of Ktulu, Creeping Death, and the title track under their belt. Simply put, this is essential metal.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#579259) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, December 01, 2011

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars One of the bitterest ironies of the music business inevitably appears when a band or an individual artist fights and claws their way for years up through the sticky morass of mediocrity to finally get that all-important debut album released, only to realize that the really hard work has just begun. In other words, you're in the same boxing arena but now you're facing even tougher competition. That's why the curse of the sophomore record is not a myth at all. The act in question has wisely put their very best, most finely-honed material on that first disc and now must come up with a batch of equally impressive songs in a much shorter span of time. That's the situation that the men of Metallica found themselves in after they'd planted their tattered flag in the public's consciousness in '83 with 'Kill 'Em All,' their shockingly intense introduction to their highly combustible approach to knocking your block off with edgy rock & roll. There was an enormous but as yet untapped audience for their brand of aural rebellion and the crowds that gathered for their concerts grew with every appearance they made. It became apparent that Metallica was no flash in the pan and that metal wasn't just a here-today-gone-tomorrow fad but, as usual, the know-it-all execs that ran the major labels in that era were the last to figure that out. So the group soon realized that album #2 was going to be just as crucial as #1 was and that, my friends, is pressure.

Whether it was advantageous to go all the way to Copenhagen, Denmark to record said disc is something only the members themselves can address. The inside of a studio is usually the same whether you're in Lagos or Honolulu but being far away from home for months on end can sometimes be a detriment to an individual's psyche. Perhaps that goes some distance in explaining why the tracks on 'Ride the Lightning' aren't as remarkably tight and cohesive as they were on its predecessor and maybe not. The bottom line is that I don't sense the exhilarating energy and unbridled joy of creation that I detected on 'Kill 'Em All.' As I stated earlier, though, following up your first foray into the industry just may be the most difficult task any band will ever have to tackle and, with that in mind, Metallica was still more successful than most in that endeavor.

They start with 'Fight Fire With Fire' and, in their favor, they raise the curtain with a slightly misleading but strong acoustic guitar intro that is soon vanquished by a blisteringly hot riff. While I was happy to hear that their fiery ferocity was intact I wasn't pleased by the tune's lack of an identifiable melody to lock onto. However, they do earn points with the loud bomb blast ending that clears the room. 'Ride the Lightning' is next and it features a slower tempo while sacrificing none of the group's inherent power. I do hear a palpable Black Sabbath vibe running through this number and Kirk Hammett's doubled guitar solo is top notch in both execution and effect. 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' is a high mark. I'm totally on board with their all-out commitment to being heavy-handed here and for not holding anything back. The overall structure of the arrangement is better from beginning to end than the first two cuts, as well. But what really takes it over the top is the fact that James Hetfield is singing more than screaming, a fortunate turn of events, indeed. 'Fade to Black' follows. Variety is the spice of life and their downshift to a quieter motif at this juncture shows they were more than just a one-trick pony. I do think they feared alienating their balls-to-the-wall, head-banging fan base with such a move, though, because they inject massive power chords into the proceedings unnecessarily as if to prove their continuing virility to those so inclined. It all fits into the uncertainty that surrounds the manufacturing of an entity's second record, though, so I completely understand. Hammett's guitar ride is spectacular, nonetheless.

'Trapped Under Ice' is an expected, obligatory return to their torrid, subtle-as-a-sledgehammer, speed metal regimen and few do it as well as this quartet of ruffians does. When the smoke clears, however, it's a somewhat nondescript rocker offering little in the way of prog or finesse. Things take an upward turn on 'Escape.' If they'd brought in Jon Lord and his roaring Hammond B3 organ this could've easily been a Deep Purple scorcher. And that's a big compliment. It's a very entertaining track from top to bottom and the addition of the old-school prison siren was a stroke of genius. 'Creeping Death' didn't fare as well. To my ears it sounded like the result of a late-night rehearsal studio jam that James was able to devise a workable melody and some macabre lyrics for. If that's how this one came about then it's no disgrace but there's something vital missing. The good news is that Hammett apparently put quite a bit of thought into his guitar lead and the audience participation angle they covered via the forceful 'DIE' shouts no doubt would come in handy on stage in the years to come. They close on a positive note with the instrumental, 'The Call of Ktulu.' This number is the most intriguing on the disc mainly due to Kirk's blazing guitar work. Having said that, I still feel they could've been bolder and taken some more progressive-minded chances with the arrangement, building the piece to a more climactic WOW moment that would've sealed the deal with a fat exclamation point.

Metallica did the very best they could to top themselves every time they entered the studio and that's one of the traits that allowed them to rise above and beyond the limits of their own genre. 'Ride the Lightning' is no exception. Yet I get the feeling that they were stuck in between being tempted to safely duplicate what they'd done before and courageously challenging themselves to go where their rowdy muse was leading them. To call this album a failure would be ridiculous because it further solidified their standing as a force to be reckoned with, causing the major labels to take Metallica and the metal banner they so proudly brandished seriously. 'Ride the Lightning' may not be a masterpiece of prog by any stretch of the imagination but it ain't no conservative piece of fluff, neither. It rocks. 3 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#820717) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 14, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars On to the second Metallica release. I am not a fan of the first one at all and I kind of hope that this one isn't so one track minded. "Fight Fire with Fire" - Nice acoustic guitar opening leading into some very heavy riffing and adrenaline inducing drumming. Immediately the band sounds more ... (read more)

Report this review (#1010260) | Posted by sukmytoe | Saturday, August 03, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Also thanx to Mexican food and Carlsberg" Ride the Lightning is the second effort of Metallica. The music is about the eye for an eye princinple, electrocutions, suicidal patients, batlefields, being trapped under ice and the seven plaques in Egypt. These fine young lads of Metallica surely ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#642835) | Posted by the philosopher | Tuesday, February 28, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In 1984 I was just a kid, but I still remember clearly that at the time there was a great deal of curiosity and expectation regarding the release of this album; Metallica had indeed taken the world of metal by surprise the year before with their debut album, surely a little bit raw and not ver ... (read more)

Report this review (#584809) | Posted by Avtokrat | Thursday, December 08, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In comparison to the innovating but ultimately rather closed minded debut record, Metallica's Ride The Lightning is a big step forward for the band. In only one year, the band explored new terrain without abandoning its roots and went further than any other band of the genre at the same time. This a ... (read more)

Report this review (#383249) | Posted by kluseba | Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yes, let us ride... ...but don't get burned? Annoying introductions aside, here is an annoying introduction: I like Ride the Lightning a great deal. It is fun. It is also dark. Ride the Lightning is Metallica's second album. Where Kill em all was pure metal, Ride had hints of progressive in ... (read more)

Report this review (#246335) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, October 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The difference between the debut Kill 'Em All and this album is like the size of the Pacific Ocean. The main reason being that the Kill 'Em All songs was pretty old when the album was recorded. Some of the songs was also co-written by David Mustaine (MEGADETH). The debut album of MEGADETH is p ... (read more)

Report this review (#218227) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, May 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is an excellent album when it comes from a Metalhead's point of view, but from a progressive rocker it's just ok. More of the progressive elements in Metallica's career come later, especially with Master of Puppets and ...And Justice for All, and Death Magnetic. But it's an amazing album. ... (read more)

Report this review (#204252) | Posted by HammerOfPink | Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is one of Metallica's finest. Although it is not as progressive as MoP and ...AJFA, it is my favorite Metallica album. This album is VERY different from KEA. The vocals are much better, guitar is less monotonous, yet the bass isn't as good, though you can't pass up Anesthesia.I originally ... (read more)

Report this review (#201575) | Posted by estes | Tuesday, February 03, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Metallica produced a much more impressive effort on their second album. Although Kill 'Em All was great, this album transformed Metallica from a heavy metal player to the preeminent metal band of all time - where they remain today. In terms of progressive material, this album offers nothing disc ... (read more)

Report this review (#190511) | Posted by AngleofRepose | Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It's hard to believe how much Metallica's music had matured within a year of their debut album 'Kill 'Em All'. With plenty of clean guitar melodies and guitar harmonies, this is a band that has grown tighter and stronger as time went by. James Hetfield seems to be more confident as a singer here ... (read more)

Report this review (#188362) | Posted by Valarius | Saturday, November 08, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Great to see 'Tallica here on the archives! It might even give me more of an incentive to buy some more of their albums. Ride the Lightning is a superb example of thrash metal with a slightly progressive twist. The poduction is good, leaving a raw edge to the band's sound. Fight Fire With Fir ... (read more)

Report this review (#185618) | Posted by burtonrulez | Tuesday, October 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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