Metallica: James Hetfield (vocals, guitar); Kirk Hammett (guitar); Cliff Burton (bass); Lars Ulrich (drums).
Recorded at Sweet Silence Studios, Copenhagen, Denmark in Spring 1984.
Metallica turned the metal world on its ear with their debut album, KILL 'EM ALL and then blew its mind with the follow-up, RIDE THE LIGHTNING. The riffs and arrangements are more intricate, the lyrics are more intelligent and biting and James Hetfield's growl is meaner. The set starts out with two tunes that would have been right at home on KILL 'EM ALL, but the next two are slower and more involved. "Ride The Lightning" is a slow (by Metallica's standards) dirge about the futility of war. "Fade To Black" is a ballad (!) that builds to an instrumental coda featuring the guitar melodies that the band would later base their sound around. It's also Hetfield's first attempt at singing in tune. The most ambitious song is a dense instrumental, "The Call Of Ktulu," that starts with a single arpeggiated guitar and slowly adds layer upon layer, building in intensity until it all comes crashing down nine minutes later.
Q (Summer/01, p.127) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Reaffirms their status as the pre-eminent metal band of the modern era....They broke with the conventions of thrash metal to record the genre's first power ballad in 'Fade To Black'..."
Kerrang (Magazine) (p.50) - "[The album included] melody, maturity and musical intelligence. It was these traits which helped them broaden metal's scope..."
Uncut (magazine) - "[T]he songs here display the firepower, dexterity and drive to innovate that prevailed before 'Enter Sandman' introduced a more broad-strokes variety of bombast."