Sound — 9
Metallica's first four releases are all incredible, and you can't really go wrong with any of them. That being said, Ride The Lightning is my favorite of the four, and probably my favorite album of all time. The record itself is fantastic, the sound was something entirely new and entirely original. It was ground-breaking and earth-shattering, and aside from Metallica's own Master of Puppets and Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz (with Randy Rhoads, of course), nothing can stand up to Ride The Lightning in terms of pure technicality on the guitar. For a metalhead, this guitar is the definition of everything that is "holy" (or rather anti-holy). The guitar work is fantastic. Hetfield's voice is perhaps in it's best condition. My one problem with this whole album is an instrumental track, Call of Ktulu, that features solos from Hammet that are written entirely in the wrong key. -1 for that. Other than that mistake, I can't find anything else wrong with the CD. Interestingly enough, "Escape" was supposed to be the single off the CD and was designed to be a big hit. In the end, that hit ended up being "Fade To Black".
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are that of typical metal. Meaning that Hetfield sings about depression, being set on fire, freezing to death, and Biblical doom (the story of the first-born dying because the Pharaoh didn't let Moses' people go appears in "Creeping Death"). Most of the time typical metal lyrics irk me because they're always about the same song. But these lyrics are diverse enough to satisfy, and they suit the style of the music. Hetfield's voice is stellar on this album. It has never been and never will be better. If only he stopped drinking at this point, then maybe his voice wouldn't have gone to crap.
Overall Impression — 10
Despite the fact that the guitars aren't perfect and the lyrics aren't amazing, the whole package makes it the best CD in my (very extensive) collection and my all-time favorite. I love everything about it (except for the bad solos in Call of Ktulu). The best songs are "For Whom The Bell Tolls", "Fade To Black", "Creeping Death", and the title track. Buy the other songs just to say you've heard them. To not own this CD would be an injustice for anybody who claims himself to be a true metalhead, and it is the epitome of what a thrash/progressive CD should look like.