was the first Metallica music I ever heard, albeit it was at the beginning of 1986 and not at its release of 1984.
Thirty years on from that release date, and everything that makes it one of the best and most admired albums of the metal is still there and relevant to listeners new or old.
This album was a step up from their debut , without losing the elements of thrash that made it the standout it was.
The start of the opener "Fight Fire With Fire" draws on that immediately, the clean guitar beginnings lulling the listener into a state of ambiance, before cranking into the thrash guitar riffs that envelops the speakers into the heart of the song. I will never forget the day when, on a school bus trip we asked the driver to put this album on over the stereo.
The beginning of the album brought responses from many of the girls on board of "Wow, isn't this nice music! before the anguished cries of "OH, what is THIS shit! The perfect response to the start of the album, from lovers of metal and detractors alike.
The title track "Ride the Lightning" follows, and in turn moves into "For Whom the Bells Tolls".
"Ride the Lightning" is dominated by the guitars and Hetfield's squealing young vocals, while "For Whom the Bells Tolls" is distinguished by Cliff Burton's bass warbling through the song, wah wah pedal on full. Two tracks on this album highlight what made Metallica stand out from the crowd.
The first is "Fade to Black", what some people in the mid-80's called Metallica's 'sell-out' song - how wrong they were, and little did they know what the 90's would bring in that regard!
"Fade to Black" instead showed all the strengths of the band, without losing the intensity of their music.
It is one of their signature pieces, because it showed that as a thrash metal band their were able to diversify without losing their roots (certainly, at this stage of their career anyway).
"Fade to Black" has been the song I have played on every stereo I have bought since this time, to judge if it is good enough to stand up to my music needs. Shifting onto Side 2 of the album, and the goodness just keeps on coming.
Opening up with the brilliant "Trapped Under Ice", the speed returns in true style and hammers along with glee. It seems to be a song that has slipped through the cracks of Metallica folklore, and I for one have never really understood that.