Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ride the Lightning - Metallica

So I have been listening to so much Jazz lately I lost track of reviews. So I decided to pick this album because I know it quite well, and while I doubt I will have any new insight, I still wanna do it. Okay now back to the review, or into rather. A growing trend in media seems to be revamping old ideas for today's sound. Like classical music, but it's rock and is supposed to "kicks ass". Or let's revisit out 80's albums and make a new album, but with new production. Which in all fairness, sometimes you need to go back to move forward (and some people have pulled it off). Rejuvenate that love or passion you once had, and then take the drive and continue forward. So they follow the album up with a fresh sort of breathe of air. It might have been off putting at first, but there are glimpses of something nice and interesting for a thrash band to do in decade 3. Then for whatever reason they take 5 years to follow that up, but the final product just seems to take ideas from elsewhere and their 90's albums. Hardwired is not a good album, it's not terrible and I do not see it being impossible for someone to enjoy the album. I have lightened up on it, but that's because I also haven't listened to it and only remember being disappointed. The only thing is that it can never amount to their 80's out put or even their 90's. Why? Well what happens when you run out of ideas? You either go back and look at old ideas and renew them, or you push ahead and try new things and do things you never thought possible. Fuck if they put out an EDM album, it'd probably suck, but at least they weren't back tracking. So in honor of that disappointment I felt I needed to review my favorite album by the group. This is the second album by Metallica. This is also my favorite album by them. This album kicks ass. Now this album is also somewhat historical. Yes, Dave Mustaine co-wrote four of the songs on Kill 'Em All, including the first four bars of each solo. But here this is where the writing is better than on the prior album, and also you got some of the best songs Metallica ever made.
  1. Fight Fire With Fire: Opening is a great, really kicking off the start of a more focused album. I imagine it surprised some fans of the band to hear acoustic guitars opening up the record. I mean I could imagine me going what the fuck, if I want already exposed to their later stuff. Okay the drums do bother me a little bit, but the song is still freaking great and has a fucking awesome hook. The song is angry and has this energy to it that makes me wanna headbang, in usually opposed to that because I feel dumb. But this is an exception. The solo is not that memorable, well parts are, but it isn't as memorable. That is until the dual leads that are harmonized I wanna say a third or fifth apart. I could double check but I wanna be fast. I think that is the best part of the solo to be honest. And there is a great punch that comes with this song and shows that even though the opened different it still fucking rocks. 
  2. Ride the Lightning: I think that this is kind of cool. People thought this was about the horror of Capital Punishment. But James later said he supports it, and this song is about a man who faces it for a crime he didn't commit. That gives the song a story, and an interesting one. This song also paints a picture with its words and the music even has this sort of lightning bolt feeling. The fast guitar chords, the cymbal hits and even the sort of clouding up the mix a bit. and the sort of thunderous clouds that I could almost see this being (if it was an instrumental) a tone poem about a thunder storm. The guitar solo is so fucking sharp and it could be ear piercing but sounds so fucking good and is very memorable. I also love how the song has a bit of a change with the solo and then it starts up with a dual guitar thing. So freaking good. Also I think Lars drumming actually fits this songs tone and theme quite well. Also how can you not love that opening riff.
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Again another nice touch having those bells in the beginning. The bass is the lead on this in the intro and the guitars power chords sounds like thunder clouds. The track really is constructed extremely well and the guitar makes you feel l your going to trudge into battle. I figure the walking pace of the drums helps that quite a bit, but again musically another stellar song. Even the lyrics and the delivery feel like its people chanting about to go to battle. Revisiting this album I wonder if Cliff was the real brains or at least creative force of the band. Well either him or Dave. This again is a very memorable solo and song in general. I love the ending and they basically do the break down of Raining Blood two years before it came out. 
  4. Fade to Black: A very nice change of pace, very sad and depressing. The song is about suicide and musically and lyrically I feel its handled quite well. Lyrically its not a master piece, but it isn't as shallow or corny as it could be. There is a real grit to the tune. I mean look at some of th later post-Black Album lyrics... Odd they'd go down that road and wouldn't progressively become better lyricists. Unless.... No, they couldn't have phoned them in on newer albums. I also want to point out on the CD this works perfectly from the last track. Also as if the soldier wants to die bow that the battle is over, for some reason or another. Like a pseudo-protoOne. This really is a gorgeous song and really evokes sadness, misery and just finality. The second half of the song, is a great change and I mean it isn't that shocking of a change but it is like a "beat change". The first half is the sorrow, and the second half is the follow though. This really is a great moody tune, as I've said now I don't know how many times, but I really have yet to grow tired of this or any tune on this album honestly. And that solo, the only thing I wish is it was turned up a tad, but other than that I mean it works.
  5. Trapped Under Ice: Based on a demo from Kirk's days with Exodus this song Impaler. Note: this demo was later released, rerecorded, on Exodus' 2004 album Tempo of the Damned. I honestly don't think this would sound out of place on Kill Em All. It's very fast and probably the best example of speed metal here. I mean not to say the songs aren't fast, but this is like a shot of adrenaline, and a much appreciated one. This song is really solid and has some great moments, but the fact that it is a bit faster than the others is a nice contrast to the slowest/"lightest" song on the album, the previous cut. Plus it kind of is a return to the charm of the last album.
  6. Escape: This is the only tune I can never remember. Honestly I just can't ever remember it, hence me not having this a "bold" track. I mean I can remember all the others why can't I remember this. And to be honest, other than it could easily be transformed into a sludge metal/groove metal tune, there isn't much here for me. I mean yeah when I hear the chorus I remember it, but it doesn't stick with me. Sadly this is the weakest cut here. But I'd prefer one weaker cut to more or less an entire albums worth. There is some nice moments, but this feels like I don't jive with it. Honestly I'm having trouble retaining anything other than the chorus, but even that I doubt I'll remember.
  7. Creeping Death: Another killer fucking tune, and possibly the best of the album. Well with the exception of maybe the closer. Written about the plagues of Egypt and Kirk co-writing the lyrics, this really is a heavy hitter. This is a song that I think even now, on newer live albums/releases, it'd be hard for even this band to fuck up. This also returns to the sort of thunderous thrashing that was earlier on the album. Great solo harmonies and this really is a great cut. I also like the change that makes it more chaotic, and yes you've basically hear this earlier on the album, it's nothing new, but it works very well here. The chant makes it seem all the more evil. Which is odd, I was always taught the Egyptians were the bad guys in that scenario. I guess it comes down to perspective, of which if you think sort of a subversion of Christianity, like what God doing is "evil" or whatever, check out Wormwood by The Residents. They got some odd stories that actually are in the bible. Judas Saves is my favorite in terms of thinking. Regardless great tune as a penultimate track.
  8. Call of Ktulu: This track was originally titled When Hell Freezes Over and was co-written by Mustaine. Mustaine later released When, a reworking I believe if I remember correctly, in 2001 with Megadeth. This is another track I can't imagine them fucking up, like really it's handed to you on a platter almost just don't fuck with it. The electric guitar arpeggios are reminiscent of what would come on the future albums and, to a lesser extent, Fade to Black. The really great thing about this is this track builds in a fucking phenomenal manner that is just a bit baffling to me. This so fucking kicks the shit out of Pulling Teeth, Orion and definitely Suicide & Redemption. This is really just a great tune that while you can argue nothing much happens, it keeps your focus for all 8 minutes. That truly is a large achievement, especially for this type of song. There isn't really anything new happening here that hasn't happened on other tracks throughout the album. It's almost like a sort of overture, but at the ending, and instead of featuring the themes it just takes that elements instead of exact notes. Killer ending.
Overall I have to give this a 9/10. Don't get me wrong, thematically the lyrics on these Metallica albums are awesome and inspiration to write better lyrics/stories. But I don't think they are the best thing ever. Now I think this is the best album by the group easily, but its not perfect. Its so fucking close, but not quite there. It's heavy, memorable, and definitely worth a listen. Also as a side note, let's hope that in 2031 they release the follow up to Lulu and not a St. Anger II in 2023. But according to past behavior (1988/2008, 1996/2016, 2003/2023?).

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