Sound — 10
Being a hardcore Metallica fan like myself, it's not unusual that one day I decided to pick myself up a copy of their second album, "Ride The Lightning." I can't even begin to describe the feelings I had when I first popped it into the CD player. 01. Fight Fire With Fire - the album's opener, it may come off as a little odd for those who want straight-up thrash. It starts off with this almost medieval-sounding thing with, I believe, a classical guitar (I could be wrong, though), which obviously inspired them to do the same on their next release, Master of Puppets. However, after about a half-minute of the tranquil, peaceful part, something begins to happen. It fades away, you hear the cymbals slowly getting louder and the distortion slowly coming in, louder and louder and louder until the main riff comes in and all hell breaks loose. One of Metallica's most dangerous head-banging songs that could ultimately lead to serious long-term side-effects. It's blistering fast, the drums and the guitar sound like a nuclear holocaust (which is definitely what they were going for), and the lyrics ultimately tell you the story of a once-peaceful world being destroyed by nuclear war. It's one hell of a ride to kick off the album. 02. Ride The Lightning - it comes in with bass and guitar, and delivered in such a manner it is almost breathtaking. With the harmony working its way in with the guitars and Cliff hitting that bass note right on time, it's a heart-stopper. The song is about being sent to the electric chair, and it's another awesome ride. It has a great interlude with some nice solo work on Kirk's part, and the echoing out at the end makes it come to a perfect stop. 03. For Whom The Bell Tolls - it's one of their more famous tunes, but I never really found it to be all that good. The lyrics are well-written in it but the ameteur songcraft and lack of much of a bridge or anything makes it a pretty bland song. There is somewhat of a bridge between the choruses (of which there are only two), but it's not so much a bridge riff as it is a weak attempt at something that just isn't working out for them. The solo work at the ending seems a little odd to me, but I assume it's supposed to sound like WWI or something, as if in the middle of a battle. It's got a cool bell solo at the beginning, so I can't complain. 04. Fade To Black - another one of their more well-known songs. It's supposed to be about suicide, and I like the vagueness used in the lryics. James doesn't come right out and tell you what the song is about, and to me that's more mature than just coming out with unnecessarily obvious lyrics. From the acoustic work in the beginning to the heavy riffs and fast solo at the end, it's a pretty decent song. Nothing all that epic, really, but it's not bad for Metallica's first attempt at a ballad. 05. Trapped Under Ice - the riffs are pretty cool, and the solos are well-done, but to me the whole concept of the song is dumb. I don't know if James was using some sort of echo effect for his voice on the song, but it sounds kind of far-out (as if coming from under ice, I assume). To me I don't really care about somebody trapped under ice, because it just doesn't happen all that often, so for me it's just an average song. 06. Escape - excellent guitar harmony at the beginning, some nice riffs and well-written lyrics. It's just about how the government thinks they can control you but you're your own person and you can make decisions for yourself. They probably could have extended on it a bit more; the fade-out started too soon and I think they could have done some more stuff to it. Nevertheless, it's still a good song, even for Metallica's awesome standards. 07. Creeping Death - this song has possibly one of the coolest riffs ever; the main riff. Double-stop-city, which, to me, really makes it sound heavy. Some awesome solo work and excellent lyrics, which are about the ten plagues of Egypt from Exodus (it's the Bible, folks, pick up a copy sometime, it's actually quite interesting). To be honest, it was this song that inspired me to actually read Exodus. They did a good job with the lyrics, it was obvious they knew what they were writing about. Just an awesome song all around. 08. Call Of Ktulu - the album's closer, it's an instrumental. I love the clean intro, it sounds really good, but then it slips into a tri-tone note and the whole thing starts to fell really tense. Not a bad thing at all, it sounds great. It does this for a while and then comes the distortion. Some cool riffs in this song; fun to listen to and play. Cliff has some awesome stuff going on with his bass during this song, too. It's a really badass-sounding song, and the solo work isn't all that bad, either. The outro is good, too. They drag it on for a bit but not to an unnecessary extent. A great song to close the album. This was the only album that Metallica produced themselves (I'm pretty sure it was just produced by them), and it sounds awesome. It's really different from their other albums, not too thrashy, but not too grungy. It's a near-perfect album for the straight-up metal genre, in my opinion. Not speed, not thrash, just metal. A perfect example, too.
Lyrics — 10
This being only Metallica's second album, you're not expecting brilliant lyrics or breathtaking songwriting or anything, but it's really not that bad for only their second album. None of the songs have a repetitious feel to them, and all of the songs had some pretty decent lyrics. Some better than others, though. There are songs with good lyrics and songs with great lyrics. I believe that deserves a 5 for lyrics.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this is a stunning album coming from a band who's prior (and first) album was purely thrash. The approach to songcraft is much different, they really expand on their songs and have more than just fast-fast-fast the whole time. I think they spent a bit more time on this one and tried to have some nice melodies and everything. Whereas Kill'Em All felt like each song was the same riff over and over again with fast drums and guitar riffs, this album is a shockingly matured version of Metallica. If you don't have this album already, I strongly suggest going and getting it, it's well-worth your money.