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Ride the Lightning (album).jpg

Ride the Lightning is the second (and title) track of Metallica's second studio album, Ride the Lightning. The song was written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton, and Dave Mustaine. It is one of the last Metallica songs that Mustaine receives a writing credit for (along with "Call of Ktulu"), as he wrote the "spider chord" riff used in the song.


Keeping in the political themes of the first three tracks, the song deals with capital punishment and the flaws that come with it. The protagonist of the story depicted within the song is a man who is convicted for an unknown crime and is executed via electrocution.

In many interviews Hetfield stated that the song is not critical against the capital punishment, but that he wrote the lyrics trying to express the point of view of a person who deals with the electric chair.

Song features

The song is the third longest song off the album, clocking in at 6:37 (just one second longer than "Creeping Death"), after "Fade to Black" (6:57) and "The Call of Ktulu" (8:54). It also features some of James Hetfield's highest note-singing (although they are screamed) and a lengthy guitar solo by Kirk Hammett, with lots of tapping at the beginning.


  • "Ride the Lightning" was played live for the first time on November 07, 1983, in San Francisco, CA.
  • Metallica stopped playing "Ride the Lightning" live in 1987, but later started playing it live during 2003 and has been a concert staple since.
  • As August of 2019, "Ride the Lightning" has been played live 365 times.


Media releases

On November 20, 2007 this song, as well as Blackened and ...And Justice For All, was released as downloadable content for the Rock Band video game series.


    Guilty as charged
    But damn it, it ain't right
    There is someone else controlling me
    Death in the air
    Strapped in the electric chair
    This can't be happening to me
    Who made you God to say
    "I'll take your life from you!"
         Flash before my eyes
         Now it's time to die
         Burning in my brain
         I can feel the flames
    Wait for the sign
    To flick the switch of death
    It's the beginning of the end
    Sweat, chilling cold
    As I watch death unfold
    Consciousness my only friend
    My fingers grip with fear
    What am I doing here?
         Flash before my eyes
         Now it's time to die
         Burning in my brain
         I can feel the flames
    Someone help me
    Oh please God help me
    They are trying to take it all away
    I don't want to die
    Time moving slowly
    The minutes seem like hours
    The final curtain call I see
    How true is this?
    Just get it over with
    If this is true, just let it be
    Wakened by the horrid scream
    Freed from the frightening dream
         Flash before my eyes
         Now it's time to die
         Burning in my brain
         I can feel the flames


Ride the Lightning.jpg
Ride the Lightning
Songs Fight Fire with FireRide the LightningFor Whom the Bell TollsFade to BlackTrapped Under IceEscapeCreeping DeathThe Call of Ktulu
Members James HetfieldLars UlrichKirk HammettCliff Burton