Metallica - Ride the Lightning - August 15, 1984
So 11 days earlier, Slayer cracks the door to the world of thrash metal open, much like a deranged Jack Nicholson in The Shining with Haunting the Chapel. On this day, August 15, 1984 (coincidentally my younger brother's second birthday) Metallica blasts the motherfucker open with this masterpiece and slays everybody in that dang room! Metallica go at it a little differently than Slayer though. While Jack's simple and effective axe is a perfect metaphor for Slayer's brutal and ultra-violent style, Metallica go with a katana -- an equally effective killing tool, but there is a beauty in its killing style. Metallica make thrash a true artform with this one.
This album is perfect in nearly every way. I've heard it countless times and I can still sit and listen to it, eyes closed, from front to back and not get bored or antsy, as I just did now. The production is unbelievable. You can't show me an album 28 years later that sounds better than this album. The arrangement is masterful. So good in fact that Metallica would virtually clone it two years later with Master of Puppets. The one-two punch of "Fight Fire With Fire" and "Ride the Lightning" is devastating. The following of the beautiful and moving "Fade to Black" with the all-out thrasher "Trapped Under Ice" is equally so. And the album closer, oh what a fucking closer! An instrumental that truly transcends genres, "The Call of Ktulu" is a nearly 9-minute epic, with Cliff's bass wailing and groaning like the mythical sea beast that the song was titled after.
As far as I'm concerned this is the album that really announced the genre's arrival. I had to double-check that it was indeed released in 1984! I mean, look at what we've heard so far. There's nothing that even approaches the level of songwriting, musicianship and production values within the genre.
OK, I guess I'm done gushing. This will probably end up being the longest review I write in here, and it was the easiest as well.
Standouts: Ride the Lightning, Trapped Under Ice, Fight Fire With Fire