Sound — 5
First I'd like to say that I'll be rather objective, which includes acute, about this album, though I'm very dedicated Metallica fan. We really need objective reviews here. The sound of the album in general is very lousy, especially the sounds of the distorted guitars. I think it ruins James Hetfield's impressively aggressive guitar riffs, and takes away a bit of the spice of Dave Mustain's and Kirk Hammet's guitar solos, which really deserved to blast away the entire musical landscape! The bass needs some space as well, it's very hard to hear though it's a vital part of trash metal, no music lives without the fundamental bottom, not even trash metal. In turn the acoustic guitars featured on Fade To Black and Fight Fire With Fire have a great atmosphere and are liberating in contrast to the heavy guitar riffs. They pull the sound from 3 to 5! The album was recorded in a small, little Swedish studio as the band hadn't earned real money yet. Some might say that the term "trash metal" is based on the raw and not necessarily optimal sound (it has been used for many years as an excuse for having too low funds to finish things), but my opinion that this is in general just bad sound.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are, as always, very destructive, depressive and extremely aggressive: "Soon to fill our lungs, the hot winds of death, the gods are laughing, so take your last breath, fight fire with fire, ending is near!" James Hetfield sings every song very committed and despite his absence in his vocal lessons, he makes it as a lead singer beacause of his charisma, his live performances, always regognizable voice and his commitment to the song. The lyrical climax is in beautiful Fade To Black with verses as: "Things not what they used to be, Missing one inside of me, deathly lost, this can't be real, cannot stand this hell I feel" and: "Emptiness is filling me, to the point of agony, growing darkness taking dawn, I was me but now he's gone." This is true poetry! (and it pulls up from 4 to 7).
Overall Impression — 6
Ride The Lightning is structually a very well-laid out album with 3-4 out of 8 good songs, which is elegantly finished by the immortal instrumental track The Call Of Ktulu, which is a magnificent specimen of Metallica's thoroughness. Ride The Lightning can't be compared to Master Of Puppets or The Black Album at any point. Yet it was Metallica's final step before jumping into their real breakthough and their musical landmark Master of Puppets, so it's a record you, as a fan of Metallica, have to own. In overall terms, it's a record with it's stories and sentimental values and on account of Master Of Puppets and The Black Album is a must-have. Yet again, you can't do a "perfect" record with only 3-4 good songs!