Great Metal Albums of 1984: Metallica- Ride the Lightning

I have said many times throughout the journey through 1984, it was the golden year of the golden decade for heavy metal. Many metal bands got mainstream exposure on radio and MTV. Not only that, the exposure gave many metalheads a look into bands that were up and coming or just out of the limelight. One of these up and coming bands was Metallica with their second album, “Ride the Lightning.”

Thinking back to that year, I don’t ever recall Metallica getting any airplay on the radio or MTV. As I listen to the album, I have to conclude that while mainstream media gave many metal bands some great exposure, I don’t think they were quite ready for a band like Metallica, even if metalheads were. After spending the year listening to all the great bands, Metallica was something different but interesting. It definitely had my attention. When I heard this album, I was blown away by the sheer power and hunger of this band.

While their debut album, “Kill’Em All,” just wants to pound the crap out of you, “Ride the Lightning” does offer some, I stress some, melodic moments. One gets that impression on the opening notes of the first track, “Fight Fire With Fire,” because it starts out with a full acoustic intro. However, it goes right into some very hard chords which lasts for three songs. In fact, all the times I’ve listened to the album, I seem to miss where “Fight Fire With Fire” ends and the title track begins. The comes the great “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” a loud pounding but at the same time rhythmic tune. I really like this track but I was disappointed when they played it at Donington 1987. It just didn’t grab me the way that it always does on vinyl.

Afterwards comes what I mean about melodic moments, my favourite track on the album, “Fade to Black.” The first half of this song is a near power ballad and while it would be another seven years before we got to hear their most famous ballad, “Nothing Else Matters,” I do hear some resemblances on “Fade to Black.” But it doesn’t stay melodic as the second half of the song goes back to more traditional Metallica soundings. An added bonus is the way that Kirk Hamett rips his guitar solo at the end.

With “Trapped Under Ice” and “Escape,” you get more great Metallica mashing and like the first two songs on the album, you have to listen carefully or you’ll miss where the one ends and the other begins. Then, if you thought your eardrums might get some relief, you’d would be sorely disappointed because “Creeping Death” comes along to kick your ass. This is a power song only slowing down slightly to deliver a more melodic chorus but then goes back to ear bashing. “Creeping Death” is decidedly my second favourite track on “Ride the Lightning.” It may not have the melodic approach of my number one but it lets you know it’s there and says you will like this song. Kirk’s solo on here is very cool too. The album ends with the very interesting instrumental “The Call of Ktulu.” All in all, this is a fantastic album and it reminds me of when Metallica were hard and hungry. The music on “Ride the Lightning” bears witness.

Track Listing:

  1. Fight Fire With Fire
  2. Ride the Lightning
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  4. Fade to Black
  5. Trapped Under Ice
  6. Escape
  7. Creeping Death
  8. The Call of Ktulu


James Hetfield- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Kirk Hammett- lead guitar

Cliff Burton- bass

Lars Ulrich- drums, backing vocals on “Ride the Lightning”

In the opening pages of “Rock and Roll Children,” while the main characters are driving to the first concert in the book, one of them introduces the others to a new band called Metallica. It was the “Kill’Em All” album. Yes, back then, they were still making their way in the world and “Ride the Lightning” provided a springboard that would help launch them to greater things.

On another note, this album has been labelled thrash and speed metal. These were terms which I wouldn’t hear for another year. I just considered Metallica great metal at the time. Furthermore, this trip down memory lane makes me sad that I missed the Metallica, WASP and Armoured Saint show. That must have been fantastic.

Next post: Anthrax- Fistful of Metal

To get Rock and Roll Children, go to:


16 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1984: Metallica- Ride the Lightning”

  1. Yeah Babay! Ride the Lightning. That was the one that really did it for me. Fade to Black, Trapped Under Ice, Creeping Death what an album.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A classic. In our circle of friends our first introduction to Metallica was via a Music For Nations compilation or maybe a Metal Massacre album. We couldn’t wait for RTL to come out and it honestly blew us all away with its power and intensity. We lived in a small town at the time and no one seemed able to find a copy of Kill em All or we didn’t even know about that album yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can’t go wrong! My favourite? MAYBE.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Can’t go wrong but maybe. For me, it’s a very close second to “Master of Puppets.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah same for me 🙂

        I don’t hate on later Metallica like some fans do, so I’ll just mention here I love Load, probably even more than Black.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t hate later Metallica either, not even St Anger. Nothing wrong with Load or Black.


      • “Ride The Lightning” was the first Metallica album I heard! Their first three albums are masterpieces! “Creeping Death”, to me, is the best song on this album.

        >I don’t hate on later Metallica

        To me, the “Black” album (which should’ve been titled “Don’t Tread On Me” because of the snake on the cover) is a good album. But Metallica went steadily downhill after Cliff Burton died! “St. Anger” made me saint-angry that I wasted money buying the CD!


      • I heard so many people dis “St Anger” that I didn’t even bother. However, it is universally agreed that the first three Metallica albums are masterpieces. I like the “Black” album as well and I agree that they went downhill after that.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great write-up of my second favourite Metallica album. There are tons of great tunes here; big slabs of riffage thrown hard and fast, but I was surprised by how melodic they are…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Source: Great Metal Albums of 1984: Metallica- Ride the Lightning | 80smetalman’s Blog […]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The golden age of THRASSSHHHH!!!

    (which I only got into 10 years later, because I was stupid)

    Liked by 1 person

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