Why Ride the Lightning Is Metallica's Most Influential Album
Metallica's seminal second album, Ride the Lightning, turned 30 years old this year, which I think is amazing. To be honest, I don't keep up much with anniversaries and such; I celebrated St. Anger's 10th anniversary last year because it was funny to me, but to quote "For Whom the Bell Tolls," time marches on. I don't think much of it.
However, amid all the retrospectives regarding Ride the Lightning's big anniversary, one thing has stood out to me: the album's lasting influence, perhaps greater now than ever before. I could go on and on about the album and Metallica, but it's all been said before. What of where Ride the Lightning stands in the public consciousness in 2014?
All of Metallica's records have had a huge impact to a varying degree that surely you can find entire subgenres based around each one. Maligned as they were, even Load and Reload inspired hard-rock radio bands for years to come. I still can't turn on 94.5 The Buzz without hearing either a track from Load or a band copying it.
Yes, even St. Anger has left its mark. We all hated that snare sound, the awful production, etc., yet bands still followed that album's footsteps after its 2003 release. Amazingly, a lot of musicians actually liked the record. Go figure.
But perhaps no other Metallica album is currently inspiring bands more than Ride the Lightning. Over the last few years, the crossover thrash and hardcore scenes have exploded. They have virtually overtaken the metal and punk landscapes, competing only with the emo revival for dominance among what scene kids these days are listening to.
The older crowd reading this may hate scene kids, but they are the ones who determine the future. Like it or not, these crossover thrash and hardcore bands are the ones who are winning the day now, and will be for the next several years. They're the ones that will be called "classic" bands a couple of decades from now.
Bearing that in mind, it's worth looking back on Metallica's influence on the current scene. It may seem weird to think a band who was so driven by "metal" that they put it in their name would ultimately come to influence a large group of hardcore punk bands, but it's easy to hear when putting them side by side.
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