Metallica’s ‘Ride the Lightning’: 10 facts only super fans know

Metallica were still part of the underground thrash scene in the early 80s when their debut album Kill them all came out, but they really started to establish themselves once RID the lightning was published in 1984.

Considered a major step forward for the band in terms of musical composition and lyrical maturity, RID the lightning contained much more complex structures and socially conscious themes than its predecessor. The line-up was finally solidified after a revolving door of musicians, and they released their first ballad, “Fade to Black”. Metallica, little did they know, was well on its way to superstardom.

James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Cliff Burton and Lars Ulrich shared their second creation with the world on July 27, 1984. All these years later, Metallica is still on top of the world. Here are 10 facts you might not have known about RID the lightning.

1. It was published twice.

RID the lightning was originally released through the independent label Megaforce Records in the US and Music for Nations in Europe. It sold 85,000 copies across both markets, and Metallica subsequently signed with Elektra Records, who reissued the album. It ended up peaking at No. 100 on the Billboard 200 with no radio exposure whatsoever, and was eventually certified six times platinum.

2. The title is associated with Stephen King.

The name was inspired by a passage in Stephen King’s the stand, which Kirk Hammett had read around that time. “There was a passage where this guy was on death row saying he was waiting to ‘ride the lightning,'” the guitarist shared. Rolling stones. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what a great song title’. I told James and it ended up being a song and the album title.”

3. There was a swap in songwriting credits.

RID the lightning was the last Metallica album to feature songwriting credits Dave Mustainewhich continued to form Megadeth after he left. Additionally, it is the first Metallica album to feature songwriting credits from Mustaine’s replacement, Hammett.

4. The composition of the music was more complex, thanks to Cliff Burton.

Kill them all were often criticized for lacking complex musical composition, so Cliff Burton, who wasn’t heavily involved in writing their debut, taught his bandmates about music theory when it came time to work on his follow-up. The bassist had a formal background in music from studying it in college.

“Cliff went all the way and learned music theory and everything,” Hammett reflected in an interview with Guitar world. “And he absolutely loved harmonies. James really absorbed the dual-harmony thing and took it to heart. He made it his thing, but it was originally Cliff’s. Cliff also inspired James a lot on counterpoint and rhythmic concepts.”

Pete Cronin, Redferns/Getty Images

Pete Cronin, Redferns/Getty Images

5. Recording in Denmark made them homesick.

Thanks to Lars Ulrich’s connections, the band was able to record the album in Denmark. After a few weeks they started to get a little homesick. “It was easy for the Danish guy to fit in, but it wasn’t so easy for the three American guys to fit in. We experienced a bit of culture shock,” Hammett admitted to Rolling Stone.

“We didn’t really have anything else to do besides work on music and drink Carlsberg beer,” he continued. “Being homesick gave us the right amount, I wouldn’t say ‘depression’, but a little bit of longing that I think found its way into the recording process.

6. Their producer had never heard of them.

In Denmark, the band worked with producer Flemming Rasmussen in Sweet Silence Studios, because Ulrich was a fan of his work Rainbowalbum from 1981 Hard to heal. Rasmussen hadn’t even heard of Metallica before working with them, but ended up producing Master of Puppets and …And justice for all.

“I had never heard of [Metallica], but I really liked them as people,” the producer later said during the Rolling Stone interview. “My mentor was really into jazz, and he pulled me aside one day and said, ‘What’s going on with these guys? They can’t play’. And I think, ‘Who cares? Listen to the energy.’”

7. James Hetfield barely sang on it.

Hetfield didn’t want to play guitar and sing on the album, so the band offered him the lead vocals armored saint singer John Bush. He turned down the opportunity because his band was doing well at the time, so Hetfield just decided to do both again.

“Do I regret turning it down? What I always tell people is that Armored Saint evolved and we had a good time and these guys were my friends, you know?” Bush said Metal hammer of his decision to reject Metallica. “Metallica was doing well, but it wasn’t like it was Metallica in 1987. It was a few years before that. So I didn’t want to leave my band. I liked them and I still do!”

8. Ernest Hemingway’s For whom the bell tolls inspired the song of the same name.

Metal fans hear the name For whom the bell tolls and immediately think of the Metallica song, but it was actually inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel of the same name, which was about the Spanish Civil War. The lyrical content of the song refers to a specific chapter in the book which describes El Sordo and four soldiers being killed while trying to fight on a hilltop.

“Take a look at the sky just before you die / This is the last time you will / Black claw massive roar fills the crumbling sky / Shattered goal fills his soul with a ruthless scream”

9. “Fade to Black” was inspired by a series of unfortunate events.

“Fade to Black” was one of the first ballads Metallica ever wrote, featuring themes of depression and suicide. When Hetfield wrote the lyrics, they were quite personal to him at the time. The band’s equipment was stolen prior to a show in January 1984, where Anthrax lent them some of their own equipment.

“When ‘Fade to Black’ was originally written, this was real. Like, ‘I hate life. Our equipment just got stolen, we can’t live our dream, we’re not going to Europe,’ all these things,” the vocalist recalled in a So what! video interview.

However, the singer also revealed the new meanings the song has acquired for him over the years. “And then, of course, when Cliff or someone important in our lives passes, that song comes on. Or like Chris Cornell, Dio… Someone’s passing gives that song new life for me.”

10. They don’t care about “Escape”.

Metallica first played “Escape” 28 years later RID the lightning come out. They performed it for the first time at the Orion Festival in 2012, where they performed the album in its entirety. Hetfield introduced it as “the song we would never play live, ever.”

“Back then we thought we’d write a song that was a little more accessible and melodic and less metal and laughable. It was also in the key of A, which is pretty rare for us. ‘Escape’ was also the last one. written in the studio ,” Hammett admitted to Guitar World. “The song was basically an attempt to write something that would get radio attention. But it never really happened for us. They ignored that song…along with everything else!”

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