Monday, July 28, 2014

ride the lightning

Metallica expanded their brutal thrash onslaught with the melodic innovations of this expressive electric extermination.  Their debut album 'Kill 'Em All' had revolutionized the scene with its fusion of metal and hardcore punk; but for the follow-up, the band was ready to break out of that mold.  

Lars Ulrich would expound:   "I think the first album fits into [the 'Thrash Metal'] category, every number going at 500 mph, but you can't call songs like 'Fade To Black' and 'The Call of Ktulu' from the current LP, Thrash Metal.  'Fight Fire With Fire' and 'Trapped Under Ice' are pretty much the ultimate in Thrash, I think, but from a musician's point of view I don't really like that term.    It implies lack of arrangement, lack of ability, lack of songwriting, lack of any form of intelligence.  Thrash Metal to me is just 'open E' riffing for five minutes as fast as you can go.  We do play very fast, but I think there's a lot more to our songs than just thrashing.  We try and arange and structure them with good breaks, tempo changes, and choruses with melody lines...The only reason we didn't use a producer for 'Ride The Lightning' was due to finances.  We had a certain budget, so we decided to opt for the best studio with the best in-house engineer rather than go for a half-assed studio somewhere with a half-assed producer and a half-assed engineer."

'Ride The Lightning' was recorded at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark with James Hetfield on lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, and harmony guitar solo in "Fight Fire with Fire";  Kirk Hammett on lead guitar;  Cliff Burton on bass guitar and backing vocals;  and Lars Ulrich on drums.  The band shared production duties with engineer Flemming Rasmussen.

Hetfield reflects:    "I'd have to say 'Ride The Lightning'  is my favourite. 'Kill 'Em All' , our first album, was already written when we went into the studio but 'Ride...' was the first next step, when we started to discover the studio and what we could do in it. That was kinda the fun bit, and it still is ... I remember writing ['For Whom The Bell Tolls'], and I was the only one that knew what the vocal pattern was going to be, everyone else just heard a bunch of open chords, and that was the song. They were thinking, "Are you sure?" and I was like, "Just wait." I sang the words, and that really brought it all together. I think simplistic works, and obviously it worked. I'd say at least half the black album is pretty simplistic. There's less complexity than '...And Justice For All' or 'Puppets'. A song like that was probably the single that never was, a single before we were allowed to have a single. I think the song is amazing. It works great, and Cliff [Burton]'s bass playing is highlighted on it."

Released on independent Megaforce Records, 'Ride The Lightning' would peak at number one hundred in the US, eighty-seven in the UK, seventy-eight in Switzerland, forty in Norway, thirty-eight in Australia, twenty-two in Sweden, and number nine in Finland.  It eventually sold over twenty million copies worldwide.

'Fade To Black' gave rise to the power ballad.  Hammett reveals:   "'Fade to Black' was a song we had a good four to five months before recording. We had a lot of time to settle into it and get into the groove of it and get the arrangements down. That was a song that people accused us of selling out—that was the song we heard our first cries of sellout, which is pretty funny. It was the beginning of a long chorus of people screaming "sellouts." Every time we've put out an album, there's a contingency of people who aren't satisfied. What can you do? You can't drive yourself crazy to please a small pocket of people. You have to do what you do, what goes best, what feels like the right thing to do. We follow our gut instincts, and sometimes that instinct lands us in pretty weird spots. For us, it's all part of the journey."

'Ride The Lightning'

full album:

00:00 Fight Fire With Fire
4:44 Ride The Lightning
11:20 For Whom The Bell Tolls
16:20 Fade To Black
23:07 Trapped Under Ice
27:07 Escape
31:25 Creeping Death
38:00 The Call Of Ktulu

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