The band was broke before they even started recording “Kill Em All” but coming into the making of this album, the band was really broke. Hetfield and Ulrich were 20 years old and Hammet was 21 years old and Cliff Burton was 22. For such young ages, they showed such great maturity in their song writing.
Hammet apparently came up with the “Ride The Lightning” title after reading “The Stand” by Stephen King, where a person on death row said he was waiting to “ride the lightning” and Hetfield takes the viewpoint of a man condemned.
But the song is written by Dave Mustaine, along with Cliff Burton, James Hetfield And Lars Ulrich. So the song would have had a different title and lyric while Mustaine was in the band.
And let’s not forget that Mustaine had a good grasp of melody and intricate technical songwriting as evidenced by the songs he wrote with Metallica, and while James took these ideals further after Mustaine was booted, Mustaine’s vision and influence still exists.
A tom hit and two guitar notes in harmony.
Another tom hit and another two guitar notes in harmony, descending in a minor scale.
Another tom hit and another two guitar notes in harmony,
Another tom hit and another two guitar notes in harmony.
Then it changes to a tom hit with a kick drum hit after it, while the harmony guitars keep playing.
And I’m hooked.
Then the chugging riffs start and the chainsaw vocals of James.
Who made you God to say
I’ll take your life from you
Humans love to play God towards each other. It’s how we live. And we refer to this God to decide what is right and wrong and swear on this God in the court of law to tell the whole truth and then go ahead and lie.
Religion uses a God.
Democratic governments are beholden to greedy corporations, the Gods who pay.
Read the book “American Gods” from Neil Gaiman and you will see how our beliefs in God gets complex as life progresses and evolves.
And while Hetfield crushes all the rhythm guitars and harmony leads, Hammet really shines on the leads, courtesy of his Satriani lessons.
2 thoughts on “Ride The Lightning”
I think sometimes some of the best albums are made by bands who are broke or just barely making it.
Like early Metallica and those first 3 KISS studio albums and even Alive was recorded on a shoestring budget as Casablanca Records was about to go under but Alive came out and took care of business!
Great point Deke on writing albums when you have nothing. You just write what you write without any thought of writing a hit.
And then as it so often does, once they get some attention, the writing changes.