Sound — 9
Ride The Lightning pretty much bridged the gap between the early, formative years of Metallica (Kill 'Em All) and the more complete Metallica that we know today (Master Of Puppets onwards). It still had more than a slight element of thrash metal that was prevalent in Kill 'Em All, and this is evident from the first song 'Fight Fire With Fire'. After the acoustic introduction, very heavy, dirty, distorted guitars come in and blow the bottom out of your speakers. Fantastic stuff. The thrash trend continues with the title track 'Ride The Lightning', and then the pace slows down a bit for 'For Whom The Bell Tolls'. After this song comes 'Fade To Black', a song which at first listen probably shouldn't have anything to do with early Metallica, but shows James Hetfield's increasing maturity as a songwriter. More of that in the lyrics section. This album is heavy to the last song, 'The Call of Ktulu', which is a complex, near nine minute orchestral-like instrumental tune. Overall, sound-wise, this album will rock your jocks off.
Lyrics — 9
As I said before, the lyrics in this album show an increasing level of maturity in lead singer James Hetfield's writing ability, with songs such as 'Fade To Black', 'Creeping Death', and 'Ride The Lightning' being highlights. The main themes of the album are of death, struggling and suffering, to name a few. 'Fade To Black' is essentially written as a suicide note, but not in such a dirty way as other such notes are written. 'Ride The Lightning' tells a story of a man on death row about to be executed for something he didn't do (sounds vaguely Prison Break-ish). 'Creeping Death' tells of plagues and struggling in Egypt, in biblical times (you'll have to excuse me for not being more descriptive or for being incorrect here, I'm not overly familiar with the Bible or Egypt, for that matter). These themes repeat themselves throughout the album, making for perhaps a darker album than would be expected, but ultimately laying the path for Master Of Puppets to come along.
Overall Impression — 9
This album is by far my favourite Metallica album, not just lyrically, but musically as well, it just straight out kicks ass. Not trying to get too biased, and trying to remain objective though, personally this album lacks, but only in a little way, that kick in the nether regions that Kill 'Em All delivered. I'm not sure if it's my speakers or just my hearing (shouldn't be), but I can't really hear the bass all that well. I'd love to be able to hear it more clearly (this is coming from a bass player here). For me, the most impressive song on the album would have to be 'Fade To Black'. This choice might sound a bit sheep-like, as a lot of people I know love this song as well, but it's such a beautifully written song and is just a great song to turn up loud, no matter what mood you're in. If my copy of Ride The Lightning got stolen, hell yes, I'd use my black belt Tae-Kwon Do skills on whichever S.O.B. took it, kick his ass, and eat it afterwards while I pump this album through my stereo.