UG Articles Archive

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who would win in a fight: a bolt of lightning or a puppetmaster? Part two of the great Metallica album debate.

I declare this day 'Tallica Tuesday! To celebrate, I will voice my opinion as to why the less critically-acclaimed album Ride the Lightning takes the cake as my favorite Metallica album. Before we begin, however, I would like to direct your attention to the picture of The Dude directly above this sentence and to remind readers that this is all in good fun, and furthermore, there is no logical way of proving which Metallica album is best. Think of my post and the previous post by Alex as guidelines or reminders to aid you in making your own decision!

I like to think of Ride the Lightning (which will be called RTL or Ride henceforth) as the third child that isn't as popular like Master of Puppets or as high-selling as the Black Album, but while he's not truly in the limelight like his siblings, he manifests into the perfect Thrash Metal Album. On an unrelated note, Ride the Lightning is also my favorite Metallica album artwork (seen above in the rare "misprint green"), though this will not be a part of my argument, I just thought it would add nicely to the introduction.

And what better way to start the perfect album than with a track that deceives you into thinking it's an acoustic lullaby? While Fight Fire with Fire is not my favorite "slow intro, ridiculously fast song" song, I truly believe that it is the best executed of those songs, literally going from elevator music to the fastest riff this side of the planet without warning. I honestly think this is one of the best intro tracks to an album, and I can imagine that it slew the audience when the band started with it pre-Master era.

Fade to Black doesn't need me to speak it's good name; its divine songwriting puts itself in the running for top 3 Metallica songs--often at #1 (which is the case for me, because I honestly can't think of a song I enjoy more than it). Metallica fans and critics of the mid 80s will tell you its the band's "sellout" song, and following Kill 'Em All, I can see from where they're coming. While I wouldn't be so bold as to say its the best Thrash Metal song of all time, I have no problem saying its the best Thrash/Ballad hybrid of all time (my apologies to A Tout Le Monde and The Unforgiven). Fade to Black--as the poster boy for RTL--is the one song I'm sure causes most people to reconsider when picking their favorite album.

Borrowing the name from an Ernest Hemingway novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls is another special song, despite having a rather simple song structure. I'm sure you know the intro "guitar" line, right? That's actually bassist Cliff Burton leading the listener into this doom/apocalypse anthem--which is perfect for action/horror movie intros (see Zombieland). The song just seems to perfectly capture a certain terrifying element that makes the song great in its uniqueness, and is also a fan favorite from RTL.

Creeping Death is an often overlooked track, but I consider it in the top 3 from the album. It's consistent throughout the entire song and maintains a fast pace while also containing some of my favorite lyrics (Moses, Pharaoh, plague, Old Testament, etc.). The title track also shares the same consistent intensity, along with one of Metallica's most technically skilled instrumental section.

Closing the Album is Call of the Ktulu [sic] another good completely instrumental song by Metallica. The one point I will yield to Master of Puppets is that I feel Orion is light years ahead of Call of the Ktulu (see picture at the top of my post). Fun Fact: this is the last song to give credit to Mr. Dave Mustaine, though he claims to have played a hand in the creation of Leper Messiah.

Honorable mentions go out to the remaining songs Escape and Trapped Under Ice, with Escape having a catchy and haunting chorus, and Trapped Under Ice maintaining the ferocity of the other tracks from RTL. I truly do enjoy these tracks, but I just don't know what separates them from the rest, so they're just fun songs to listen to rather than song with a progressive or new idea.

I picked RTL as my favorite album not only because of my love for the the tracks I mentioned above, but because it is the only Metallica album I will listen to in the car and not skip any song. Master of Puppets comes close these days, but I still skip The Thing That Should Not Be and Damage Inc. (no offense guys, but you don't have the lasting power I look for when driving). Though RTL will never be as critically acclaimed as MoP or Black Album, it is always in the running of favorite albums by actual Metallica fans along with the other albums that compose the first 5 Metallica albums. I'd like to think RTL set the stage for MoP, and for that--and for personal preference--I will always pick Ride the Lightning over Master of Puppets.

1 comment:

  1. Well said as usual! Loved the picture of The Dude!