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Ride the Lightning
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Product Description

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Media Type: CD
Street Release Date: 07/07/1987

Don't let that classical-guitar-ish opening to "Fight Fire with Fire" fool you--Ride the Lightning packs a heavy-metal wallop. While not as ambitious as the subsequent Master of Puppets, this early Metallica album is indubitably one of their best. Thematically, it explores death and dying from myriad points of view: nuclear war ("Fight Fire with Fire"), electric-chair execution (the title track), and drowning ("Trapped Under Ice"). Interestingly, the best track on this album is probably "Fade to Black," a slower, more introspective song about suicide. There's also "Creeping Death," which remains a concert favorite. An excellent mix of rapid-fire guitar riffs, rip-roaring solos, and singer James Hetfield's trademark growl, this is thrash metal at its finest. Very highly recommended. --Genevieve Williams

Don't let that classical-guitar-ish opening to "Fight Fire with Fire" fool you--Ride the Lightning packs a heavy-metal wallop. While not as ambitious as the subsequent Master of Puppets, this early Metallica album is indubitably one of their best. Thematically, it explores death and dying from myriad points of view: nuclear war ("Fight Fire with Fire"), execution by electric chair (the title track), and drowning ("Trapped Under Ice"). Interestingly, the album's best track is "Fade to Black," a slower, introspective song about suicide. There's also "Creeping Death," which remains a concert favorite. An excellent mix of rapid-fire guitar riffs, rip-roaring solos, and singer James Hetfield's trademark growl, this is thrash metal at its finest. -- Genevieve Williams

Customer Reviews:

  • one of the four greatest Heavy Metal album of all-time
    I don't know exactly where this album would rank on some kind of official list or a huge vote for the top 10 Heavy Metal albums, but on my website I ranked this timeless masterpiece 3rd behind Reign In Blood. I did have a really hard time deciding if it should be 2nd or 3rd though. Anyway, enough about that, here is my review.

    FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE - This is easily one of the greatest album openers in heavy metal history and i love how Hetfield sings the song and the lyrics are great. The solo is very solid but nothing too amazing. My favorite part is probally the end of the song where they make it sound like a nuclear bomb is falling and then exploding, you can hear a rumbling sound at the very end like an explosion. A perfect ending to a song that is about nuclear war
    RIDE THE LIGHTNING - This is the perfect song to follow after Fight Fire With Fire. A song about a man being put to death by electric chair, it's easily one of Metallica's best songs and the guitar solos in the middle of the song are amazing!
    FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS - This song is perfect. It has a dark and creepy sound to it and i love the sound of the bell at the beginning and end of the song. I kinda wish this song was maybe a minute longer but like I said, I still think it's perfect.
    FADE TO BLACK - This is the best and most famous song on this album and for good reason. The first part of the song is slow and sad but beautiful at the same time, then the song builds up to about a 3 minute instrumental part with one of Kirk Hammett's best solos. This song is about a man who is depressed and eventually commits suicide. I would rank this song as Metallica's 3rd greatest song ever.
    TRAPPED UNDER ICE - Once again another great Metallica song. Trapped Under Ice is up there with Metallica's best speed metal songs. It has 3 super fast and crazy guitar solos and the lyrics are about someone being trapped under ice in water drowning. Yea I know, another song about death.
    ESCAPE - Finally a song that is more uplifting to give you a break from all of the lyrics about death. I truly think that is why this song is on this album. It has a great chorus that i like to sing along too and even though it may be the weakest song on the album, it sure as hell isn't a weak song!
    CREEPING DEATH - This song is normally a personal favorite of Metallica fans and it's one of my favorite songs as well. It has a great guitar solo, some awesome riffs and lyrics.....well what you usually get in an 80's Metallica song.
    THE CALL OF KTULU - I'm not real sure what instrumental song from Metallica is better but I do know that it would probally come down to either this song or Orion from Master of Puppets. I'm sure it's hard to make a 9 minute instrumental song without it being boring in some parts but Metallica managed to make all 9 minutes enjoyable and sometimes downright great! My favorite part in the song is the big guitar solo somewhere in the middle of the song. an epic 9 minute instrumental song is a perfect way to end this masterpiece of an album.

    Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets is what Heavy Metal is all about and the main theme for Ride the Lightning is death which I think is a great theme for a heavy metal album. If you love thrash metal and somehow don't own this album yet or if you just got into listening to thrash metal then make Ride the Lightning one of the first 5 albums that you get!...more info
  • "Die by my hand/ I creep across the land"
    A concept album about death. If that isn't heavy metal, I don't know what is. The songs that make up Metallica's second album, particularly "For Whom The Bell Tolls," "Fade To Black," and "The Call Of Ktulu," are among the chunkiest and most jagged milestones in the history of rock music. The guitars are swathed in corrugated industrial screech, the vocals sound like doom raining down from a thundering sky, and the rhythms charge like bulls at a momentarily distracted matador. And the lyrics, as I've previously established, are mostly about dying. Sometimes, the words are springboards for social commentary; "Fight Fire With Fire" takes nuclear paranoia to its logical conclusion, and the title track is a verbally intense screed against the death penalty. At other times, like in the surprisingly tender "Fade To Black," the words are darkly introspective. And sometimes, they're jut plain gruesome. Listen to "Trapped Under The Ice" and you'll see what I mean.

    The big classics include "For Whom The Bell Tolls," with its complex guitar progression and wailing chorus, as well as the claustrophobic title track, the fire-and-brimstone violence of "Creeping Death," and the aforementioned sweetness of "Fade To Black." The rest isn't quite as good, although I most certainly do dig the menacing guitar patterns and general Lovecraftiness of "The Call Of Ktulu." I guess I could live without "Escape" and "Fight Fire With Fire," both of which kinda sorta drag. But otherwise, Ride The Lightning is damn good. And I love the cover art, too....more info
  • A Defining Album of Metal
    I recently got into Metallica the past few weeks (their old songs), and this was the first studio album I picked up. I have never been blown away by a more terrific album than this one. Although I have not bought MOP yet (I hear it's the best), I know that this band really had it back in the 80s. You don't even need to read the reviews on here, you can just gaze at the 5 star amazon rating. How many CDs have you seen a 5 star rating with? Highly Recommended....more info
  • On my top 5 Favorite Metal Albums!
    Out of all the metal albums I've listend to over the years. Ride the Lightning is got to be at least number 2 on my top 5 I rank it way before Master of Puppets I love Master but it became so overated. But if you really wanna listen to a good Metallica album then I really suggest this one. The solos, the lyrics, the drum beats everything on this album gets me pumped up. If I'm working out this album is definatelly on for me to get going. for pple who don't like this album your either high on something or you don't like metal at all. And one of my most favorite songs of all time is on this album. And that is "For Whom The Bell Tolls" I just absoloutely love that song. and "Fight Fire With Fire" I just wanna mosh when I hear this song. And "Fade to Black" I love this song because it was played at my cousins funeral which is basically what made me pick up this album. R.I.P. Tyler well that's all I got to say I hope my review was helpful to people out there....more info
  • My first metal album, and easily one of the best ever.
    As mentioned in the title of this review, RTL was the first metal album I ever purchased back in 1996 at the tender age of 12, and I still listen to it to this day. It has always been one of my personal favorites, and it stands up as one of the best thrash metal albums of all time. It's the album that truly got me into metal and I feel it's the best Metallica record. MOP comes close, but not quite. Metallica perfected their incredible talent, and worked out the kinks from their thrash happy, raw first album Kill Em All, with this gem of a sophomore effort. Now, on to the review.

    1. Fight Fire With Fire - The first song of the 8 track onslaught sets the tone well, as it begins quietly with acoustic guitar, and then it changes with a heavy thrash explosion like a punch in the face. It plays fast and furious throughout, until it comes to a stop with an explosion to end the metal assault. Very good opening song, something Metallica has always done well. 4/5
    2. Ride The Lightning - The title track of the album dosen't dissappoint. It has a very solid, heavy riff, and Kirk Hammett busts out arguably his best solo on the album. Great vocals in this one too, especially in the chorus of the song. 5/5
    3. For Whom The Bell Tolls - Perhaps the most popular song on the album with most people. It starts out with two gongs of a bell, and then continues with a great melodic sounding guitar riff. One of the best intros to any song they've done. Sounds very cool with the bell going throughout the song, and makes for a great dramatic effect. 5/5
    4. Fade To Black - My personal favorite Metallica song not only on this album, but I would venture to say of all time. It really has everything you could ask for in a great song. It begins with a beautiful acoustic pattern and some lead guitar mixed in as well. Once the first few lines are sung, it builds into a heavy riff that grabs you and dosen't let go. Kirk Hammett rounds out the song with an absolutely incredible solo that will have you headbanging for sure! I think that it's the best written song on the record and the guitars mesh so well and sound better than any other song on the album. A HUGE 5/5!!
    5. Trapped Under Ice - A very heavy, speed metal tune that includes a galloping, in-your-face riff that will make you want to start throwing things!!Not in my top 5 favorites on the album, but still very strong. 3/5
    6. Escape - The weakest song from this offering in my opinion. Still not bad, but it's just softer and packs less punch than the others. For this to be the weakest song is saying alot though, because it's still heavy and I certainly wouldn't say it's one of Metallica's worst songs. 2/5
    7. Creeping Death - Here we go, now it's time to rock!! This one comes close as my favorite, second only to Fade to Black. The riffs in it are so tight and Hammett is at the top of his game with his solo work. It rocks so hard from start to finish, and the lyrics are creative and creepy at the same time. This song IS thrash!! 5/5
    8. The Call Of Ktulu - This is my favorite Metallica instumental-hands down. It starts with a nice string arrangement, and then builds up to a thundering guitar assault. Great lead work by Hammett in this one, as he really shows why he's one of the greatest thrash lead guitarists of all time. It's the longest track at 8:53, but worth every minute. 4/5

    Well, there you have it. My review of Ride The Lightning. Hope this helps in your decision to buy the album. I highly recommend it to anyone who is into thrash/speed metal music. If you're new to Metallica and looking for the best album to start with, look no further than this album. You won't regret it.

    ...more info
  • my 2nd favorite metallica record
    This is one of the best thrash metal albums ever and it's just raw and powerful totally recomend this to any old school metallica fan or any metal fan in general. But I can't put this ahead of Master Of Puppets. ...more info
  • 4 1/2 stars out of 5
    This was a leap and bounds advance forward for Metallica in only 1 year time, but this album is not quite perfect people. With only 8 tracks on an album everything has to be perfect. While songs like "Trapped Under Ice", "Escape", and "Creeping Death" are very good, they aren't great. The highlights are the first 4 songs....more info
  • Some of their best work (pre-sellout)
    I do own this album. I bought it on CD and cassette back when they were released. And to this day, this is one of their best albums. It's just too bad that they they all had to turn into a bunch of a-holes and sign on to be monkey boys for the RIAA, suing children and P2P networks....more info
  • A classic. Every rock fan should already have it.
    Metallica may have artistically peaked with Master Of Puppets (or maybe Justice), but this is my favorite album by them. It balances the fiery rawness of the debut with the more complex arrangements found on Puppets to create one of metal's defining masterpieces. Anyone who's ever had even a passing interest in metal has owned this album at some point or another.

    It starts out with what is arguably Metallica's hardest hitting song of their career, Fight Fire With Fire (dig those drums, Lars!) and never lets up. The only real "break" we get is the semi-ballad Fade To Black, which is definitely one of the band's top five songs. The album culminates with the one-two punch of Creeping Death and Call Of Ktulu. There's also these two other songs on the album called For Whom The Bell Tolls and Ride The Lightning, which are okay. Just kidding. They rule. Trapped Under Ice and Escape are, IMO, the album's weakest songs. But Trivium wishes they had 1/100th of the talent to write a song in the vein of early Metallica, no matter how weak(ish). Still two good songs that don't bog the album down; just not as great as the other six.

    Metallica have become to metal what Bob Marley is to reggae and what Johnny Cash is to country. Every guy my age I know cut their teeth on this band. Sabbath and Maiden give them a run for their money, but Metallica's enduring popularity with this new generation of rockers (yes, moreso than Sabbath and Maiden) cements them as the definitive metal band for those looking to get their foot in the door. And when I say metal, I don't mean Mudvayne.

    This is the album I always recommend for anyone looking to get into Metallica. I must've played it hundreds of times over the years and the truth is it never gets old (for me, anyway). Great music is timeless. ...more info
  • Don't ride the lightning, ride the Anger instead.
    How did this awful crap get 5 stars? I was a big big fan of their albums Load, Reload, and the awesome St. Anger, so I decided to give this one a try.

    First off, the bass is awful! I'm so glad that Cliff died, because he tried to play bass like Limp Bizkit and failed. Also, the songs are abysmal. In For Whom the Bell Tolls, they try to emulate St. Anger and put no solos in it, but it fails. And Fade to Black is an obvious attempt to be emo, but it did not make me want to cut my wrists. All the other tracks on the album are bad as well, and James' voice sounds prepubescent.

    Get St. Anger instead.
    ...more info
  • Extremely disapointed
    If you were waiting for that amazing glossy picture sleeve, with high quality front/back cover printing, high quality band's photos...don't buy it, and wait more 30 years for the next reissue, because Metallica did with this one just what they did with their music after And Justice For All...they screwed up...more info
  • Ride the Lightning with Metallica
    For sheer metal mayhem, there are fewer CDs available that are better than this one. Ride the Lightning features some of the finest Metallica material they produced. From Creeping Death to For Whom the Bell Tolls, this is a CD not to be missed. A five star metal masterpiece. ...more info
  • Flash before my eyes...
    Metallica(along with Slayer) was the most influential thrash Act ever, and this album is a big reason for that. Ride the Lightning is simply classic metal, that lots have bands have tried to top, but few have suceeded. Metallica were gods in the world of thrash metal, and this album remains one of the greatest metal releases of all time.

    Now, the songs.

    Fight Fire With Fire starts off with a classical sounding guitar intro before exploding into a thunderous thrash monster with great guitar work. Sick opener. The next song, the title track, is even better, with its famous riff and catchy chorus. One of Metallica's most recognized songs. For Whom the Bell Tolls is one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time. Starting off with a bell chiming(of course), the song progresses into a midpaced rocker that never gets old. Cool drumming from lars, too. Fade to Black is doubtlessly the best song on the album, and one of my favorite songs ever, by any band in any genre of music. An absolutely beautiful ballad. Starting of with an acoustic "riff" from james, before Kirk's beautiful melodic guitar work plays over. His playing on here is one of my favorite leads ever. Great soft singing from James, also. Simply a perfect song, and in Metallica's(what I call) Big 3:Fade to black, One, and Master of Puppets. Anyway, moving on. Trapped Under Ice gets us back into thrash form, with some blistering solos from Kirk. Escape is probably the worst track on the album, but it's definetley not bad, and it's definetley not filler. Not as significant as the afoementioned songs, but still decent. Creeping Death is another amazing thrasher, and it's a great song to jump around to. Definetley one of the better songs from the thrash scene. The final song on the album, The Call of Ktulu, is my favorite thrash instrumental of all time, starting with wind wooshing before a beautiful atmospheric riff takes over. The track gets heavier from there, and the result is just amazing. You have to hear this.

    So, summing it up, this album is just beyond words. Metallica were in top form when they made this, and they were in even "topper" form on their next album, Master of Puppets. This is not as good as Master of Puppets(cuz that's pretty much the best album ever) but this album is still amazing. I recommend this to anybody that likes metal, and if you're new to metal, than get this right away. Metal forever!...more info
  • A great gem occassionally lost in the shadows
    Talk of Metallica albums usually passes over "Ride the Lightning"; you hear how great "Master of Puppets" is, the transition that was "the black album" and general disgust at "St. Anger." The truth is, without "Ride the Lightning," we never would have seen any of the others.

    "Ride the Lightning" was Metallica's sophomore album, and it represents a quantum leap forward over "Kill 'Em All," setting the sound that has come to be known as "Metallica" to us. The songs are more refined, yet still feel as raw as those off its predecessor. While it would later be refined into "Master of Puppets," arguably the greatest metal album ever, this album is still a masterpience, containing "Fade to Black" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" as well as the very-well-done instrumental track "The Call of Ktulu."

    Definitely an essential pickup for a Metallica fan, and one of the first few albums you should buy if you're just getting into the band....more info
  • Less mature than Master of Puppets
    I recently got this album after buying Master of Puppets and was kind of disappointed by it. Overall, I find it kind of tedious. While there are some very good moments that show the band's talents, they don't last long enough to really earn the album more than 3 stars. I do give Metallica credit for some thoughtful lyrics, but they are all delivered in an uninspired fashion with no attempt to differentiate them. Perhaps, I would have approached this album with different expectations if I had listened to it before Master of Puppets. But I might not have even purchased MOP if I had started with this one.

    I should let you know that I consider myself more a "hard rock" fan than a "heavy metal" fan. My favorite groups include Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rush, Rainbow, Dio, Symphony X, and Dream Theater. So my tastes lean more toward early metal, hard rock, and progressive metal. I admit that I have no taste at all for the music played on Sirius/XM Liquid Metal. If you love thrash metal and death metal, you'll probably consider me an over-the-hill loser. But if you're in your 40s or 50s and like the bands I like, my review might have more relevance for you.

    Most of the songs start with nice instrumental openings, but they descend to monotonous thrash attacks after these promising beginnings. I find little melodic or rhythmic variety in the songs after James Hetfield starts singing. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Fade to Black" are the only songs that approach the maturity of the songs on MOP. The chorus on "Escape" is memorable and "Creeping Death" does have a good guitar solo in the middle. My favorite song on the album is actually the instrumental "The Call of Ktulu". Given my negative comments on Hetfield's singing, that might not be too surprising....more info
  • A HUGE step forward from Kill Em All
    If you listen to their music in order, this album is a tremendous step forward from their 1st album. Not that Kill Em All was bad because it was very good, but now they have depth and progression in their music. It is not just straight forward thrash. And this is the beginning of the blueprint for MOP, AJFA and now Death Magnetic in terms of where songs are placed. Title track is 2nd, opening track starts with a slow, acoustic style and then rips into a fast pace, 4th track is the ballad type song and then at the end you have your instrumental.

    While I do not care much for Escape and Trapped Under Ice, the rest of the tracks are just so stunning that I had to give it 5 stars. Creeping Death is my favorite. Fade to Black is their 1st attempt of a slower type ballad song. The Call of Ktulu is a beautiful instrumental and Whom The Bell Tolls and Fight Fire With Fire are awesome.

    Definitely check this album out. It is my 2nd favorite behind Master of Puppets....more info
  • My first Metallica album, and still one of my faves...
    "Ride the Lightning" is an interesting compilation of songs. There is no particular theme to the album except perhaps sudden death. Even that can only be loosely applied. While "Master of Puppets" is probably a better album, "Ride the Lightning" is still my favorite Metallica album and a perfect album for the initiate Metallica fan. This is not because the songs are better than those on "Master". It is because the songs here seem to latch on to you and not let go. As my first Metallica album it would not cease playing. Everywhere I went, everything I did for several years, this album went right along with me. Okay, enough melodrama.


    1. Fight Fire with Fire - a song about the perils of the nuclear standoff between America and the former Soviet Union. The song was perfect for the time. It is a simple thrash song with robot like vocals coming from James Hetfield. I love this song despite the weak execution of the vocals. It is fast and furious and it was my introduction to metal beyond "Motley Crue."

    4.5/5 rating.

    2. Ride the Lightning - the album's title song is largely overlooked by the Metallica fanbase, probably because of the several great songs that are on this album. If you buy this album, don't overlook the title song. Give it the chance it deserves. It is a great metal song.

    5/5 rating.

    3. For Whom the Bell Tolls - is probably the song this album is best known for. The bass intro to the song is one of the most creative things I've ever heard in heavy metal music. This one is a bit top heavy though, meaning that the most interesting parts happen before the vocals even come on line. Not to say that the whole song isn't good. It is great, one of Metallica's all time best efforts, imo. I wore the grooves off the LP listening to this song.

    5/5 rating.

    4. Fade to Black - as I understand it Metallica took some flak for introducing so slow and acoustic a song into their repertoire. Even so, this is one of the great songs in heavy metal history and there is enough heavy crunch in this one to keep it live and listenable as a metal song. Even so, clearly Metallica intended to write a song that gained a more sympathetic emotion. The theme of this song is with the darkening of the spirit when something precious has been lost. The idea is to ask, "Is life still worth living?" That's how this song works and it does it very well.

    5/5 rating

    5. Trapped Under Ice - this song is a bit of a foster child among Metallica's long list of tunes. It is certainly metal, but it does not display the full talent of the band, imo. This song interrupts the flow of music on this great album, somewhat. Even so, it is not a bad song and I'll listen to it every now and then.

    3/5 rating.

    6. Escape - Another underrated song from this album. It is very direct and powerful. Some listeners claim that James Hetfield hates this song. I don't know if that's true, but it'd be a shame. While not one of their best, it is a good song.

    4.5/5 rating.

    7. Creeping Death - one of the highlights of the album. If you've never watched "The Ten Commandments" movie then you may not understand what is going on in this song. It has to do with the curse of death on Egypt's firstborn that caused the exodus of Moses and the Hebrews, as recorded in the Bible. The song is filled with crunching riffs. Die! Die! Die! Die! Don't let the lyric overwhelm you. This song is so great.

    5/5 rating.

    8. Call of Ktulu - this is an instrumental and it might be the greatest composition that Metallica has ever created. Most Metallica fans prefer "Orion", probably because there is a more concerted crunch on that song. Nevertheless, "Call..." is filled with plenty of intense metal riffs. The song twists and turns its way through a rushing river of sound. That's the best way I can explain it. This might be the best song on the album.

    5/5 rating.


    "Ride the Lightning" is a perfect album for the Metallica initiate. If you have never heard Metallica, or know someone who might like to hear Metallica for the first time, then I point you in the direction of this great Metallica album. To the new fan it is an unforgettable listen. Once hooked you will be addicted for life....more info