Sound — 10
Metallica's sophomore effort is a huge step up from Kill'Em All. The songs on Ride The Lightning have more melodies and complex riffs which contribute to making each song great. Hammett and Hetfield race away with their lightning fast riffs and solos. However, this album, unlike its predeccesor, is not solely speed metal. There are several songs which have slower, more melodic sections and IMHO are among the highlights of the whole album (e. g. the intro to Fight Fire With Fire, the first half of Fade To Black & the intro/outro of The Call of Ktulu). Production is also improved from Kill'Em All. I especially like the different sounds Metallica uses in the songs to add to its potency (e. g. the thunder that acts as a bridge between Fight Fire With Fire and Ride The Lightning, the bells in For Whom The Bell Tolls & the sirens in the outro of Escape). This album is the first Metallica epic and announced their arrival as heavy metal gods.
Lyrics — 10
I, being a guitarist, personally dont take so much interest in lyrics but more in the music and melodies. But this album is full of extremely powerful lyrics. War, Death, and suffering are prominent topics in Ride The Lightning: 01. Fight Fire With Fire - nuclear war and armageddon. 02. Ride The Lightning - death through the electric chair. 03. For Whom The Bell Tolls - an ode to fallen soldiers. 04. Fade To Black - suicide. 05. Trapped Under Ice - drowning. 06. Escape - escaping life through death. 07. Creeping Death - ten plagues of egypt (from exodus). 08. The Call Of Ktulu - no lyrics but I believe the title came from HP Lovecraft's book - Call of Ktulu.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is abso-f--kin-lutely phenomenal. This and Master Of Puppets were the ultimate peak for Metallica. Now for my final impressions: 01. Fight Fire With Fire - amazing song. From the classical start that fades out to the thunderous riff, this song propels you at 100 miles an hour. Great solo as well. 02. Ride The Lightning - another cracker. A little slower than Track 1 but still full of energy. There's a great segment in the middle where Hammett and Ulrich try to outdo each other during the solo. 03. For Whom The Bell Tolls - one of my favourites from this album. Much, much slower in tempo than the first two tracks but still really good. Musically, its a very simple song with a few power chords and little solo snippets by Hammett (They're too small to be called actuall solos). I find that this song has an extremely catchy beat thanks to some great performances from drums and bass (Ulrich & Burton). 04. Fade To Black - masterpiece of the album. Starts of really slow and soft, and then continues with an acoustic verse (which has great playing by Hetfield) and an extremely heavy word-less chorus. The second half, where it gets faster, is my favourite part of the album. I absolutely love the final solo. It may not show off Hammett's skills as much as the One solo or Master of Puppets solo but IMHO it meshes the best with the rest of the song. 05. Trapped Under Ice & Escape - they're not bad tracks but unfortunately seem like filler here when compared to the other great tracks. 06. Creeping Death - picks up the tempo again and is a concert favourite because of easy-to-sing-along lyrics. Super fast riffs and mind blowing solo. 07. Call Of Ktulu - as a fellow musician, I can really appreciate the beauty of instrumentals. This one is Metallica's first instrumental featuring all the members (Anasthesia from Kill 'Em All only had Burton & Ulrich). The eerie intro progresses into a heavy riff. The solo's not so great on this one but the riffs are amazing. I especially love the intro/outro tune. Great finish to an excellent album.