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Ride the Lightning, Metallica's Second Album

Ride the Lightning was Metallica’s second album and as well as featuring a great name it was a classic thrash metal album which cemented Metallica as an act to look out for in the rock world. Ride the Lightning showed how quickly the band were developing with a range of great tracks which were each pushing in new directions and showing off their growing technical skills as musicians. The lyrics were better, the music was more polished and impressive and their imagination was pushing them to create music which would continue to influence the metal scene for years afterwards. The album was first released in 1984 by Megaforce Records and then re-released later the same year by new label Elektra Records. It sold well on release indicating the growing fan base that Metallica was developing but while the initial sales were less than stellar, over the years the album went on to sell over 5 million copies in the US alone. It is still considered one of the best and most important metal albums of all time. The album was actually recorded in Copenhagen in Denmark and coming, as it did, just one year after Kill ‘Em All the improvement is astounding. The line up for this album was James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Cliff Burton. As usual the main writing partnership was Hetfield and Ulrich but Burton also made his presence felt with writing credits on no fewer than six tracks, Hammett was credited on four and even Dave Mustaine, long gone to form Megadeth, was credited on two tracks from this album. There were three singles released from this album and the first was the classic power ballad Fade to Black which features a great guitar solo and has remained a firm favourite amongst Metallica fans often being played at live shows. They followed it up with the intense thrash classic Creeping Death a song inspired by the biblical plagues. The final single was For Whom the Bell Tolls, another classic Metallica track which showed off Burton’s amazing skills on the bass. Other highlights of the album were Ride the Lightning and the The Call of Ktulu which were the last tracks ever to credit Mustaine’s influence on the band. The band is proud of the album and rightly so, especially the song Fade to Black which really marked a new direction for them and became a song which meant a lot to people. They have described the album as being about death and fear when discussing it in interviews partly because these were the things they were thinking about at the time. Ride the Lightning was a great album and the memorable name referred to a man being electrocuted in the chair, hence the cover artwork. This marked a real progression from Kill ‘Em All and already Metallica were slowing it down and adding in subtle creations that really made them stand out from the crowd. It would be their next album, Master of Puppets, which really exploded them into superstardom but Ride the Lightning isn’t far away from that standard and remains an excellent album.