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Music / Ride the Lightning

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"Die! By my Hand! I creep across the land! Killing first born man!"

Ride the Lightning is the second studio album by Metallica, released in 1984 through Megaforce Records and reissued two months later through Elektra Records as the band's first release on the latter label. It has sold 6 million copies circa 2012.

Fan favourites include "Fight Fire With Fire", the Title Track, "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "Fade to Black" and "Creeping Death".


Side One
  1. "Fight Fire With Fire" (4:45)
  2. "Ride the Lightning" (6:36)
  3. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (5:09)
  4. "Fade to Black" (6:57)

Side Two

  1. "Trapped Under Ice" (4:04)
  2. "Escape" (4:23)
  3. "Creeping Death" (6:36)
  4. "The Call of Ktulu" (8:53)

Bonus Tracks (Digital Reissue):

  1. "For Whom the Bell Tolls (Live 1989)" (5:34)
  2. "Creeping Death (Live 1989)" (8:12)

Principal Members:

Original Album

  • Cliff Burton - bass, vocals
  • Kirk Hammett - guitar
  • James Hetfield - lead vocals, guitar
  • Lars Ulrich - drums, percussion

Live Bonus Tracks

Creeping Tropes:

  • Alliterative Title: "Fight Fire with Fire".
  • Ambiguous Ending: The album's title track is about a prisoner sitting in the electric chair, and the unbearable anxiety of waiting for the executioner to finally throw the switch. The final lines (before a final repetition of the chorus), however, raise the possibility that it was All Just a Dream and that the protagonist wakes up safe and sound from his nightmare; alternatively, they can be read as the chair finally being powered on, with the protagonist screaming in pain as he's electrocuted.
    Wakened by horrid scream
    Freed from this frightening dream
  • And I Must Scream: "Trapped Under Ice" is sung from the perspective of a Human Popsicle who is still conscious. The title track also incorporates this.
  • Apocalypse How: "Fight Fire With Fire" is about this via nuclear annihilation.
  • As the Good Book Says...: "Creeping Death", about the ten plagues of Egypt. Though it was inspired by the band watching The Ten Commandments (1956), and got its title from Cliff saying "Whoa, it's like creeping death!" during the newborn slaughter scene.
  • Audience Participation Song: In a live setting, "Creeping Death".
  • Concept Album: Almost all the lyrics on the album relate to death in some way.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: "The Call Of Ktulu", in reference to The Call of Cthulhu.
  • Death Row: "Ride the Lightning" which is about execution by the electric chair.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Fight Fire With Fire", where it is implied to violence to end violence will eventually lead everybody to their doom.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "For Whom the Bell Tolls" has a two minute long intro.
  • Epic Rocking: The title track, "Fade to Black" and "Creeping Death" all top six minutes, while the instrumental "The Call of Ktulu" is nearly nine minutes.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: "For Whom the Bell Tolls", obviously.
  • Get It Over With: "Ride the Lightning:"
    The final curtain call I see
    How true is this?
    Just get it over with
    If this is true
    Just let it be.
  • A God Am I: From "Ride the Lightning" which denounces capital punishment.
    Who made you God to say
    I'll take your life from you
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: "Fade to Black" is about someone on the verge of committing suicide in despair.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: "For Whom the Bell Tolls:"
    On the fight, for they are right
    Yes, but who's to say
  • Human Popsicle: "Trapped Under Ice", which is sung from the perspective of someone in a cryogenics chamber.
  • Instrumentals: "The Call of Ktulu".
  • Isn't It Ironic?: The use of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in Zombieland. Again, not a bad offender, but the song is about war between humans and other humans, not between humans and zombies.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: The album ends with "The Call of Ktulu" (8:55).
  • Metal Scream: The end of each chorus to "Ride the Lightning".
  • New Sound Album: The band noticeably slowed down their sound, but became much more technical as compared to Kill 'Em All, which had much faster but simpler riffs. This would continue through Master of Puppets and ...And Justice for All, before their next New Sound Album Metallica (The Black Album).
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Fade to Black", "Ride the Lightning".
  • One-Word Title: "Escape".
  • Power Ballad: "Fade to Black", Metallica's first one.
  • Protest Song: The title track could be taken as one against capital punishment.
  • Revenge: "Fight Fire With Fire" is about how this would backfire in the context of nuclear warfare.
  • Ride the Lightning: Not an example, but the Trope Namer.
  • Shout-Out: "For Whom the Bell Tolls" is a reference to Ernest Hemingway's novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, about the Spanish Civil War. "The Call of Ktulu", references The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft.
  • Song Style Shift: "Fade to Black".
    • "Escape" sports a somewhat poppier sound compared to the rest of the album, especially in its chorus.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Fade to Black" is not as heavy metal as all the other songs.
  • War Is Hell: "For Whom the Bell Tolls:"
    On they fight, for the right, yes, but who's to say?
    For a hill men would kill why? They do not know
    Stiffened wounds test their pride
    Men of five, still alive through the raging glow
    Gone insane from this pain that they surely know