Sound — 10
There's little I can say about Metallica that hasn't been chronicled a hundred times. Every album (except load and reload) felt like an album by a different band, whether it was due to their musical evolution or the changing production. Ride The Lightning came out at a point where the guys had just started to progress past the raw punk brutality of Kill 'Em All, but had not yet fully refined their art. The result? A complex, yet rugged piece of metal perfection. The mellow parts, while not quite as obvious as something like "Nothing Else Matters" are beautiful, and the heavy parts are as brilliant as ever.
Lyrics — 10
Typical for early Metallica (culminating in their semi-concept album "...And Justice For All") the themes of this album are helplessness, justice, evil higher powers and armageddon. While they were yet to reach the pinacle of their maturity, the sillyness that occasionally tarnished Kill Em All ("Phantom Lord" for one) is now gone, and it's no longer just the music that is heavy.
Overall Impression — 10
Quite simply, this is my favourite album by my favourite band. Nothing short of brilliant. The lasting power of the tracks is immediately obvious; Creeping Death and For Whom The Bell Tolls will be staples of their live shows until the end, and songs like Fade to Black and The Call Of Ktulu will always stand out as remarkable examples of their musical excellence. The title track is a brilliant, under-rated masterpiece, and contains my favourite guitar solo of all time, by any guitarist, ever. If anything happened to my copy of this album, I'd go out an buy another two.