The guitar riffs are wholly impressive, fast paced for the most part, and entirely filled with songwriting genius. The crunch tone of the guitar is very likeable if thrash metal is your favorite genre or even if it isn't. Songs like the title track,"Fade to Black", and "Creeping Death" are favorites of mine, but all of them are noteworthy and unique. The bands' acoustic guitar use on "Fade to Black" has one of the most unbelievably well constructed main guitar melody. No Metallica ballad can surpass that acoustic guitar riff ever. It is impeccable and a pure exoneration of their songwriting advancement.
These songs aren't very technical guitar wise, but "Fight Fire with Fire" is a very fast paced track with riffs unimaginable and very intense. Solos by Kirk Hammett are fast and furious plus very well constructed and consist of wah pedal licks with amazing mixtures of blues influenced technicality. Just about every solo on here is wholly fast and well confounded. All of the tracks have unique song structures that stick in your memory and could never be played out. This goes for the first 5 Metallica releases, then degeneration into pure destruction that was tragic to see such talent go to waste.
James Hetfield's vocal outputs are intense with less screaming than their predecessor, but still feature the hate fueled lyrics that are mixed with hoarse throat. He sings with a clean voice on the acoustic parts of "Fade to Black". However, as the song progresses, a heavier vocal output is exhibited on the crunchy tone guitar. For every song, he is quite angry and intense. The vocals mesh well with the guitar riffs. A moderate use of back up screams are exhibited on here. Overall, every single track has worthiness and some more so than others, which is typical for an album.
The drums by Lars Ulrich exhibit a great pound into your skull with even some double bass kicks that are featured on "Fight Fire with Fire". His executions on each track are well played out and rehearsed to suit the music. Not a track on here lags in this department as Lars has very good skills and mechanics which are well mixed into the production sound. His abilities are far well embraced and utilized on every song. The production/mixing as was previously mentioned wasn't the greatest, but still very worthy of value. Again, I just had a hard time hearing the bass guitar. It's audible only if you crank the volume.
To reiterate this point, Metallica was pretty much the founder of the thrash metal genre itself. "Ride the Lightning" is a very dark and intense album in this genre and shows how well this band matured from their first full-length release. The production quality again is the weakest, but even that is debatable. This album remains to be my favorite release by the band because of its originality and desolate atmosphere. YouTube some of the songs that I mentioned to see what I mean in terms of quality thrash metal galore. If you're a fan of thrash metal and don't have this yet, get it now!