“James really absorbed the dual-harmony thing and took it to heart. He made it his but it was originally Cliff’s”: Kirk Hammett on Joe Satriani’s influence and Metallica’s ’84 masterpiece Ride the Lightning

James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett
(Image credit: Pete Cronin/Redferns)

You’d be hard-pressed to find Metallica songs that hit harder than the four that open Ride the Lightning. If you were there in July of ’84, you remember where you were the first time you gazed at the album’s cover, which depicts an electric chair in the middle of a midnight thunderstorm.

Based on that grim imagery, it’s expected that themes of death and destruction would run rampant throughout Ride the Lightning. But this was a thrash metal album, and the rage nestled up against sociopolitical commentary. Despite Metallica’s inherent youth, Ride the Lightning found success tackling tricky subjects… and chugging riffs and hair-raising solos.

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Andrew Daly

Andrew Daly is an iced-coffee-addicted, oddball Telecaster-playing, alfredo pasta-loving journalist from Long Island, NY, who, in addition to being a contributing writer for Guitar World, scribes for Rock Candy, Bass Player, Total Guitar, and Classic Rock History. Andrew has interviewed favorites like Ace Frehley, Johnny Marr, Vito Bratta, Bruce Kulick, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Rich Robinson, and Paul Stanley, while his all-time favorite (rhythm player), Keith Richards, continues to elude him.