Together with Master of Puppets I think this is the pinnacle of Metallica’s achievement. Without a doubt a masterpiece. After all these years (the album is now 38 years old!) the band’s second album still sounds fresh.
Ride the lightning got its title from Stephen King’s novel The Stand, and it refers to the electric chair. Someone that is executed in it is ‘riding the lightning’. The lyrics are not only about that though: there are also references to the Cthulhu mythos and the bible.
The album was recorded in three weeks. They had to hurry, because the tour was already booked and started right after. Something I didn’t know was that during this time, there were some doubts about singer James Hetfield. He felt a bit uneasy with doing both the singing and the rhythm guitar. So they asked Armored Saint singer John Bush to help out, and he declined. They were doing well at the time, wiki says. Who has heard of Armored Saint now?
I have never heard the difference, but when I found this I bought it because someone told me that the Music for Nations pressing was better. I am happy I did now: this being a first European pressing, it is worth quite a bit. I’m not a collector like that, but it is nice to know just the same.