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Old 10-11-2014, 05:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
Dragon
 
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Kansas, United States
Posts: 2,633
Default Ride The Lightning - Metallica




This is LONG overdue, but I think it is time I air out the demons I have for this album. This could potentially be the longest, most in-depth review I have made so far, but it without a doubt is worth it. I was going to post this in my journal, but this is really a full-fledged album review and I wanted it to be placed appropriately.
Tracklist & Ratings:
  1. Fight Fire With Fire - 5/5
  2. Ride The Lightning - (see review)
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls - 4/5
  4. Fade To Black - 4/5
  5. Trapped Under Ice - 2/5
  6. Escape - 2/5
  7. Creeping Death - 2/5
  8. The Call Of Ktulu - 5/5


Overall Rating: 3/5


Here is the short version of my review
Positives:
  • Easily some of the best guitar riffs ever in the history of metal.
  • Not much else to be honest...

Negatives:
  • Easily my most hated performance by singer James Hetfield. His singing on Load or St. Anger is in all seriousness, better than his vocals on some of these tracks.
  • Complete dearth of speed on many tracks.
  • Boring compositions.
  • Many of the tracks have ****ty acoustic intros.








Alright so "Fight Fire With Fire” plays and right from the word-go, things are not looking good. Unpopular opinion: That acoustic guitar intro DOES NOT BELONG ON A THRASH ALBUM. Do not get my meaning construed either, acoustic guitar is fine, but this one is far, far, FAR too long, and it just does not work.

Here is an example where it DOES work, and work rather well




^ Here, the guitar is noticeably faster, more upbeat, MUCH shorter, and it just overall sounds a lot more sinister.

The stuff from “Fight Fire” just sounds happy-go-lucky, and that does NOT suit well with me at all. Alright so once we get past that worthless intro, this song is actually acceptable. More than that, it is great. The riffing is UNBELIEVABLE and it absolutely crushes every riff from KEA, COMBINED. Wow! The double bass drumming is slightly irritating, as something about it does not sound quite right, I think it is too loud maybe...Hetfield’s vocals are not all that good either, but good God HAVE I MENTIONED HOW MUCH I LOVE THE GUITARS?!?! This is the last track from this album that I bear no ill-will towards, so if you think I am being too critical of this album so far, just wait.

3/5. That is the rating I give for the next track. I am rating the track before I talk about it because I want to be able to accurately describe how much this song disappoints. “Ride the Lightning” is next and man does it start off a whole hell ofalot better than “Fight Fire With Fire!” Right away, some KILLER riffs start playing, and ha hoh my God…does the riffing go from great, to being some of the best riffs ever in the entire genre of ROCK. That chorus riff NEEDS to be played more.

Then Hetfield starts singing, and while he is not bad, he is just that: not bad. The riffs are out of this ****ing world, and Hetfield’s vocal performance is AVERAGE at best. He brings this song down so much, it frustrates me to no end. He does this lame-ass melodic singing that is just pure crap and does not belong in a thrash album as far I am concerned. “AYYYEE don’t want…to…die (ah!)”

Garbage. I cannot stand it. I am not even going to talk about the rest of this song, because it just makes me mad.

Next, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” starts playing, and the riffs are, again, 5/5, lights out, no-band-makes-better-riffs-than-Metallica. This very long instrumental section that goes for over two minutes is a candidate for the best moment in metal. Alright, in stark contrast to my feelings for his performance on the previous track, I actually can stand, better than that, I enjoy Hetfield’s singing. I think it has to do with:
  1. This song is slower.
  2. The song structure mirrors a ballad and Hetfield sings more spoken word style than his melodic vocals from the prior track.

It is still a difficult song to listen to for reasons I do not know, but I can not fathom giving this song lower than a 4/5. The riffs continue to impress as the song goes on and maybe my brain is willing to overlook the sub-par vocals—I do not honestly know. Either way, this is a great song and I cannot deny that.

Ugh! Again with the acoustic guitar intro as “Fade To Black” begins, though this is CONSIDERABLY better than the intro from the first track: it is more uptempo, and is backed by some powerful guitar chords. Oh, but then it goes all melodic and turns to complete **** for me. Then around the 1-minute mark it starts sounding country-ish, which does not sound nearly as bad as the melodic **** from just seconds earlier.

WOW. I thought Hetfield’s vocals were bad on the title track, this HAS to be his worst performance I have ever heard from him on a Metallica album. Is this a thrash album? It does not sound like it as Hetfield continues to do…whatever the **** he is doing. At last, some heavy guitars come in but they fade away. Then as if the gods do not want to see Metallica do this to themselves, out of nowhere comes some FIERY guitar riffs that…
I have officially run out of words to describe the riffs on this album. I can not fathom a band ever making better riffs that sound better than the ones on this album. I have certainly been wrong before, but there is just no way. Not only that, but Hetfield sounds good again as the sound picks up. Better than that, he sounds phenomenal. It could just be the riffing that I like, but seriously the second half of “Fade To Black” is way better than the first half, I am going to go ahead and start referring to “Fade To Black pt. 1” to describe the ****ty part of this song, and then “Fade To Black pt. 2” to describe the second half. Overall though, this song gets a 4/5 from me.

Next, “Trapped Under Ice” and by now, I am overly cautious of these long intro-riff sections because I know Hetfield is lurking at the end of each of them. This song is one of my most immortalized Metallica tracks because there is a solo AT THE BEGINNING of the song. Why is that so hard for bands to not do that more!? WHY?!? Solos actually sound much better at the beginning than they do towards the end! Yeah so, once again, the guitars are lights-out, and Hetfield’s performance is…not great. He sounds…okay, but yeah, that is it: he is just okay. I am starting to notice how none of the songs on RTL follow conventional song structures. It is TOO atypical if that makes any sense.
Anyway, “Trapped Under Ice” is dangerously close to mediocrity, and so it gets a 2.5/5 from me.

“Escape” is next, and…this album is starting to bore me. These riffs are great but where is the speed?? This is a Metallica album, and we are just cruising along when we should be soaring…fast. I can not listen to this song. It is just so bland and uninteresting. The guitars should be ramming these riffs down listeners’ throats, but they are just timid and not wanting to do anything else than back Hetfield’s awful vocals. 2/5

Now “Creeping Death” is approaching the type of speed the first track had, but it is still nowhere near as aggressive. These riffs no longer impress me without speed. They are being blatantly disrespected without a fast tempo and it truly is a shame. 2/5


FINALLY, we get to "The Call of Ktulu,” and this is far and away my favorite song from this album. It seems like Metallica finally got that damn intro perfected as the guitar notes at the beginning are all sinister, Burton is present adding a solid baseline as always, and Ulrich keeps a tentative beat. When the song starts, its just ****ing awesome. This is the true work of Metallica. Like I promised, this is an in-depth review, so I am going to get really technical here a bit describing this song.

For probably the first time on this album, Hetfield and Hammet are not playing the same ****ing thing at the same time, and it is clearly evident. Next, this song progresses considerably faster. Compared to earlier songs like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” with its long instrumental section, this song greatly shortens that, and churns out many complex riffs and chord structures while still making time for a WILD, lights-out solo by Hammet, while Hetfield still rocks the main riff section on rhythm. Then, at the end of the song, Hetfield takes the guitars for a bit while Ulrich pounds away on his drums, then Hammet comes roaring in with some just awe-inspiring, beautifully arranged chords. By far, the best part of this entire album is the ending of “The Call of Ktulu.”

I do have one negative thing to say about the ending of “The Call”. It takes way to long to actually end. Still, 5/5 and easily the highlight of this album.


Alright, so that was not nearly as painful as I thought it would be, and it was actually even a bit therapeutic going through that album again. One last unpopular opinion for me. If there was a gun to my head, and I had to pick, I would have RTL as the worst of Metallica’s first four albums. This means I would place …And Justice above it, which makes sense because …And Justice has more songs on it that I like.
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