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How Ride the Lightning helped establish the metal genre

Posted on 18 December, 2020

Artist

Year

Tracks

8
More Info

Runtime

47'25''

Written by

Produced by

Metallica, Flemming Rasmussen

Genre

Label

Formation

James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, BurtonBass, Lars Ulrich

Country

USA

Ride the Lightning is one of those records that altered the course of modern music forever with their appearance. The sophomore record by Metallica is in fact a landmark for the trash-metal genre. In general, for all the bands that from 1984 on tried to play extreme variants of metal music.

It is also one of the first records that helped establish the vision of metal as a serious and thoughtful musical style. Something more than just kids screaming and making noise with ultra-distorted guitars. The L.A. formation in this album explored various themes that later will establish as metal groups and artists’ core topics. Suicide, depression, violent deaths, oppression, war, and hopelessness before the powers-that-be, to mention a few. All this, blended and topped with a generous dose of horror weltanschauung and iconology. In this work, the listener finds the instrumental The Call of Ktulu just named after the H.P. Lovecraft cycle of cosmic horror novels and short stories.

The sonic stance

From a sonic stance, the band evolved from their debut Kill ‘Em All, adopting more complex rhythmic and melodic solutions, blending the heaviness of the bloody and speedy power-chord riffs that were preeminent also in the previous work with elements of prog music.

In this record, we see that Metallica develop and process metal as a technic and intricate style that needs a high quality of musicianship to be played and interpreted. The listener is constantly immersed in tempo changes, riff variations, crazy bridges and interpolations, and more melodic solos that manage to add a significant contribution to the songwriting side and the whole quality of the project.

The first leg of the record

The first leg of Ride The Lightning is probably the most famous and the one that remained in the history of metal for Metallica (but not only) fans. Songs like Ride the Lightning, For Whom The Bell Tolls, and Fade to Black count among the most successful and well-written songs of the Four Horsemen.

The album generally shows an excellent balance alternating super-fast and straightforward aggressive songs like Fight Fire With Fire, Trapped Under Ice, and Creeping Death with more elaborate and structured but still heavy songs like For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ride the Lightning. Finally, the haunting Fade to Black is an ultra-power ballad about a man committing suicide. With its darkly enchanting melodic intro and its grim breakdown, it stands to this day as one of the most powerful and moving songs in the band’s whole career.

You can find Ride the Lightning on Spotify.

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