Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community

Metallica Ride the Lightning is Metallica’s second studio album. For me, this is the first album of Metallica’s groundbreaking trilogy; Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and …And Justice for All, which also considered as the Early Metallica period. The beginning of the period Metallica stormed the world.


Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community

While listening to “Ride the Lightning” many Metallica fans will surely think about the most characteristic songs of this album, the sound, and all the creativity that the band printed when creating one of their most significant albums.

Others may think of the tragedy that this album surrounded in the future. One of the most exceptional musicians in metal history, a phenomenal bass player and a great friend of the band; Cliff Burton said goodbye with one of the most tragic forms from this group that achieved fame and has become one of the most symbolic bands in Metal Music, thanks to its incredible and aggressive sound. Yet, there are some more details that accompany the creation of Ride the Lightning. Here you will meet the most prominent.

Ride the Lightning, the second album in Metallica’s career

In this second installment, the band musically has decided to be and sound more like themselves by putting the most creative, complex and progressive ideas together. They already knew well what they were able to offer, so they had full confidence to develop their full potential as exponents of Thrash Metal.

Composed of 8 songs, the band managed to reach the goal of discovering themselves as artists and creating (each with its instrument) the rhythm by which they would be identified in the face of other artists. Something unique, original, and characteristic, and the result was simply spectacular.


Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community

The story behind each song off from Ride the Lightning

Members of the Metallica have explained how the creative process behind Ride the Lightning was, an iconic record which turned 35 years old a few days ago, and still with force in the minds of those who enjoy the golden days of thrash metal. And those who affectionately remember Cliff Burton, who has made significant contributions in this album, never forgotten by metalheads, Metallica fans and the band members.

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Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community

These are the songs available on the album and the explanation provided by the group members themselves.

1- Fight Fire with Fire: This first song undoubtedly represents the end of an era, in which the band played a bit youthful songs. And this transition comes from a soft melody to gradually become a very aggressive mix, harmonic intros which merge with the lyrics that speak of the end of the world as we know it and chaos. You can clearly hear all the power of the band’s instruments, and it represents the introduction to the topics that will be developed below.

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2- Ride the Lightning: This song gave its name to the album and tells a story about the death penalty and the path to the electric chair, talks about inevitable situations in which many times we are caught. They surely were against the method of this way to take life. The idea of the title was from Kirk (it was originally taken from a passage in Stephen King’s novel The Stand) and it seemed like a fantastic idea to everyone. This is the first way to die that is presented on the album, and more will come later. (former Metallica lead guitarist Dave Mustaine has a contribution to the making of this song as well)

3- For Whom the Bell Tolls: This is one of the songs where we can appreciate the perfect execution of Burton’s bass marvel, and its creation is attributed to him completely, pointing out that he was a genius when he was carried away by inspiration. The song talks about death during a battle, detailing the civil war of a nation and a way to die in combat, which is different from the one described above.

4- Fade to Black: On this occasion, Metallica used their influences to perform more than a great and enjoyable musical piece for their audiences, and put together this statement for all those who have considered suicide at some point. This song became a great help for all those who at some point thought of this as a way out.

5- Trapped Under Ice: Kirk’s influence is noticeable throughout the song as it has parts of melodies that he composed in the past. The song describes a death under the ice, and symbolizes not being able to do anything in the face of a harmful situation. Very few presentations of this subject are known live.

6- Escape: It is one of the shortest songs of the album and was the last to be added to this group of eight. The band tells in this case how a prisoner tries to escape from prison. The story is complemented by sounds characteristic of what would be an escape. Although it does not detail a death clearly, it reflects certain situations with no way out.

7- Creeping Death: In this song, the band has dabbled a bit on religious issues, since in this single the band has dedicated itself to talk a little about the 10 plagues of Egypt. It is considered an emblematic song which gave way to “Die by my hand.” Members of the band tell how they went to Cliff’s house to see the movie; “The Ten Commandments” and while observing the scene where a cloud of smoke ends the life of the firstborn, the idea for the title of the song occurred.

8- The Call of Ktulu: It was the band’s second instrumental single, and ultimately one of the contributions of Mustaine’s influence. Although it had a different title first (When Hell Freezes Over) in the end it took the name due to a suggestion from Cliff, whose reference had drawn of a work by HP Lovecraft “The Call of Cthulhu”, of which he declared himself a complete admirer.


Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community

The release of this album was full of some curiosities such as:

– Color of the disc: The record label was responsible for printing the album with a mistake. The cover went from blue to green, and they realized the error after about 400 copies were printed. They still distributed them, and this particularity managed to turn them into collectibles.

– Songs composed or influenced by Dave Mustaine were introduced, who had left the band long before.

– Although the album represented completely new sounds for the band and its spectators, it won 5 platinum records in the United States.

James Hetfield sent to design a guitar with the wood that was of the demolition of the garage in California where the disc was composed in its entirety.

– Many of the songs make clear references to different ways of losing your life.

The meaning of Ride the Lightning;

Primarily used in the United States, which means; execution or to be put to death by the electric chair.


The album was recorded on February 20 – March 14, 1984, with Danish producer Flemming Rasmussen (who also recorded, engineered and co-produced Metallica’s other legendary albums such as Master of Puppets [1986] and …And Justice For All later [1988]) at the Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was recorded in only three weeks and released on July 27, 1984.

Produced by Metallica and Flemming Rasmussen
Engineered by Flemming Rasmussen
Mastered by Tom Coyne, Frankford Wayne, Tim Young, and Bob Ludwig.
Remastered in 1995 by George Marino
Digital Reissue Bonus Tracks Mixed by Mike Gillies
Ride the Lightning Album Artwork Design by AD Artists

Metallica Ride the Lightning - The Story Behind - Metallica Ride the Lightning Print Mistake

Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community


Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community


Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community


Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community


Metallica Ride the Lightning – The Story Behind – Metalhead Community

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