For the second time in a week, a classic Metallica album is celebrating a birthday! Ride The Lightning (RTL), the band’s second album turns 33 this year. It birthed some live staples, like the much-loved ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and the epic ‘Fade To Black.’ Ride The Lightning was a big step forward technically, as the band toyed with more complicated riffs and longer songs–some of which featuring softer, acoustic sections. Let’s take a look at some things that make RTL great!
The Heavy Songs Are Heavier Than Ever:
Metallica came out with a vengeance on ‘Creeping Death’ and the ‘Trapped Under Ice.’ These songs were faster than anything Metallica had previously recorded and launched them into a new stratosphere above the other heavy metal heavyweights.
The Acoustic Work:
However, the album’s biggest surprises proved to be the excellent acoustic work. Take the intro to ‘Fade To Black,’ which has become an all-time favourite among Metallica’s extensive catalog, and added diversity and range to their music. Everyone knew they could shred, but the world began to understand Metallica’s musical scope. Take the beginning of ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ which kick-started a trend for Metallica: soft beginning passages transitioning into fast, thrash riffs.
Cliff Burton’s Bass Work:
On the topic of intros, how awesome is Cliff Burton’s playing on ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’? He was an extremely creative player who took bass from background noise to the forefront of the music. If only they’d done that in 1988!
Another great part of Ride The Lightning is the plethora of crazy guitar solos from Kirk Hammett. From his frenetic work on ‘Creeping Death,’ to the harmonized section on ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ the album features some of Hammett’s best work with the band–and showcases his ability to rival other shredders like the soon-to-emerge Dave Mustaine and former Exodus member Gary Holt.
Last but not least, we have ‘The Call Of Ktulu,’ which is one of the eeriest, bone-chilling songs I’ve ever heard. There is a sense of dread apparent throughout the entire track that only builds as the band progresses through the intro to the explosive finale. Dave Mustaine apparently wrote the whole thing, but Metallica played it and made it great– no discredit to Dave!