Ride the lightning (not the cultural capital) Classic albums #2.

Ride the lightning. Metallica. 1984.

This thrash and metal classic were mostly ignored by commercial press* when it came out, which is both strange (because of the quality) and predictable (because of the audience).

Nowadays, every sane and insane hard rock/metal enthusiast regards the blue album as a milestone. It currently rates as #3 at the best metal albums ever list, in the app Rate your music (that’s surprisingly high if you ask me).

It has seven angry thrashy and heavy songs and one sad ballad. All songs are about death except ”Escape” (which ix about saying Fuck you to everybody).

The themes is, as Mick Wall writes in ”Enter night”(2010) the kind of youthful death theme that you could expect from a acne-burdened teenager, ”that locked himself in his room and hopelessly tried to defend himself against an unfair world”. (And the singer and frontman James Hetfield really had some acne problems in those days).

Personally I was totally struck by the title track. A man reflects on life and death before he is executed, but it’s not only sadness that you feel when you listen. Rather, you recieve a kind of strength through the angry vocals and also a sense of connection and knowledge about this dark place of the world (but I remember I soon got tired of it after listening to it 25 times or so).

Songs that I always will get back to is For whom the bell tolls and the instrumental Call of the Kthulu.

What about the audience? Why did the press miss it out?

My theory, inspired by the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu: Music reporters in the press is rarely in contact with teenagers from the working class, (or other groups with less academic cultural capital, like small firm owners). And the people that loved Metallica in the beginning were, to a large part, from these classes and groups.

That’s why the press, at least the culture-section, doesn’t appreciate the next big thing a lot of the times. (Most famously they didn’t get shit about heavy metal in the 70’s). And I’m quite sure it happens still, with newer young genres. (Maybe with EDM, the kind of music Avicii played ?)

However. The album is a 8 out of 10.

Best: the Hemingway-inspired For whom the bell tolls, and Ride the lightning isn’t far behind.

Very good: The Call of Cthulhu, a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft.

Worst: Trapped under Ice.

* Mick Wall. Enter Night (2010), s 195.

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