[How Hard is it To Play]: Ride The Lightning Album

You’re a Metallica fan and you want to learn their stuff on your guitar? You’ve came to the right place.

In this article I’m going to analyze the whole Ride The Lightning album. Each song will be thoroughly analyzed and rated by difficulty of playing it on a guitar. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. Let’s go!

Ride The Lightning – The Album

After it’s debut, Kill ’em All, Metallica released its second album, Ride The Lightning in 1984. It was, of course, different from Kill ’em All, in terms of sound, music and arrangements. Ride The Lightning paved the way to the new, more harmonized and heavier Metallica.

Let’s analyze each song on album.

Fight Fire With Fire

How hard is it to play Fight Fire With Fire on a guitar?

Fight Fire With Fire is hard to play. It is fast, and it demands a high level of accuracy and stamina to play it right. IMO, it is the hardest song to play on the album.

Acoustic Part

Acoustic part at the beginning is on the intermediate level of playing. Why? You have to be familiar with finger picking, and also with hybrid picking.

You can play it fingerstyle, but you can also play it in hybrid picking style. I like hybrid picking, so I prefer this option.

Anyway, with some level of dexterity needed to play this, you can handle this part with some practice and repetition.

Here, take a look at this article about hybrid picking if you’re interested.

Heavy Riff

After the clean part, heavy, distorted riff comes. It is hard to play this right. It demands a high skill of alternate picking, downpicking, and palm muting.

It is so easy to sound sloppy and muddy when playing this. That’s why it is crucial to master palm muting technique before + alternate picking.

Also, play with the settings on your amp in order to find a perfect combination of knobs and pickup settings.

I advise you to check out Abasi Pathos distortion pedal. I like it particularly because you sound chuggy, explosive, and yet not messy and muddy. For this song, it is a perfect tool. With it, your guitar will sound almost exactly like the one on original recording.

Check it out on Amazon for more info.

Ride The Lightning

How hard is it to play Ride The Lightning on a guitar?

Ride the Lightning is not that hard to play. The tempo of the song is slow enough for anyone with intermediate guitar skills to catch on. With exercise and repetition, you can manage to play it flawlessly and confidently.

Opening Part

The opening part is a two-guitar harmonized section. Not hard to play. Basically, you’re picking two notes on higher strings.

The Riff, Verse and Chorus

First riff, verse part and chorus are also not hard to play. It is not fast, that’s why it takes a little repetition to handle it. These are the techniques used in it:

  • downpicking
  • palm muting


After the second chorus, there comes a bridge part. It is a bit harder to play it on a guitar. It is because you have to perform alternate picking technique on a low string, at fast tempo.

So, in short: Practice alternate picking.


To play a solo of Ride the Lightning, you have to master the following techniques:

  • legato
  • alternate picking
  • string bending

For Whom the Bell Tolls

How hard is it to play For Whom the Bell Tolls on a guitar?

For Whom The Bell Tolls is definitely easy to play on a guitar. It is perhaps one of the easiest song by Metallica. The tempo is slow and technically, this is not a complex song.

Here are the basic techniques you need to know in order to master this song. Along with simple power chord strumming patterns, here are the two main techniques used:

  • downpicking

Downpicking is a technique you just have to know if you plan to play any Metallica songs on your guitar. In this example, downpicking is not that hard to handle. That’s mainly because the tempo of this song is not fast

  • palm muting

To be able to play tight, you have to use your palm to mute the strings from ringing out. You can hear it in the main (chorus) riff.

Fade To Black

How hard is it to play Fade to Black on a guitar?

Fade to Black is not that hard to play. It demands intermediate level of playing skill. It is among the easier Metallica’s songs in terms of difficulty. However, Fade to Black demands a certain amount of dexterity and accuracy in fingers.

Let’s analyze the song in more details.

The Beginning – Clean Parts

The beginning of the song is played on an acoustic guitar. It is a great example of the song with which you can exercise your fingers’ dexterity, accuracy and strength.

Here are the guitar playing techniques employed in this part:

  • alternate picking

Alternate picking is the technique of picking in which you alternate direction of picking with each pluck of the string. It is one of the most important techniques when it comes to playing guitar. Be sure to play with it a lot.

  • legato

After the first part (in B minor), the song modulates to A minor key. Basically, it’s a chord progression with noodling that kicks in. Legato technique is used, along with simple chord strumming pattern. To be able to perform legato properly, you have to exercise pull off’s and hammer on’s.

That way you’ll develop enough strength in your fingers. Strong fingers are crucial if you want to play guitar confidently and correctly.

Chorus (Instrumental)

The chorus in the song is a power chord progression (with distortion). It’s not hard to play it. However, you’ll need to repeat it a lot of times until you become confident enough. Otherwise, you’ll sound sloppy.

Here’s what you need to exercise:

  • palm muting

Palm muting technique is essential when it comes to playing trash metal on a guitar. With palm muting, you’re blocking the sound from ringing on and on.

Without it, your guitar sounds loud and messy. Exercise palm muting. Eventually, you’ll find the right amount of pressure exerted by your hand onto the strings.

Second Part of the Song

After the two choruses and clean verses, the song modulates to an E minor key. It is the power chord progression, with faster tempo + downpicks and slides.

  • downpicking

James Hetfield is notorious for his downpicking technique. However, this is a slow downpicking that takes place in this particular part.

Make sure you know how to downpick properly.

  • sliding

From D to E power chord, you have to slide. Sliding is effective and yet easy technique to learn.


There’s a beginning solo, and then later on, a second one. The beginning solo is slow, the second one is faster.

Every intermediate guitarist can learn the first one. The second one is not that hard (in Metallica context), but it takes more practice.

In short, solos in Fade to Black are among the easier solos in Metallica’s catalogue.

How to Get The Sound?

How to get the sound settings right, so it sounds like an original recording? There are multiple options. First of all, turn on the neck pickup.

On your amp, lower the mid knob, and increase the bass and treble knobs. Play with it until you find the right combination.

Use a reverb effect, and also you can add a bit of chorus effect; it sounds really cool for the clean parts. For the distorted parts (like instrumental chorus), you can use a tube screamer pedal to boost and energize the sound, while keeping its clarity.

For that, I use a famous Ibanez Tube Screamer overdrive pedal. It works great for trash metal genre, especially for Metallica’s stuff. Check it out on Amazon for more info.


Fade to Black is a great example of a song you can learn on your guitar. Even if you’re a beginner, you can start learning this song. It doesn’t matter how much of it you can play properly. It will make you a better guitarist with each playing session.

Fade to Black is a song that demands finger dexterity and accuracy. That’s, among other things, is what makes it so fun to play on a guitar.

Trapped Under Ice – How Hard Is It To Play?

How hard is it to play Trapped Under Ice on a guitar?

Trapped Under Ice is a fast paced, trash metal song that is fairly demanding to play. It’s mainly due to the fast tempo the song has. Also, alternate picking skill must be mastered to play it properly.

Here are the most important guitar techniques used in Trapped Under Ice.

  • alternate picking
  • palm muting
  • pentatonic runs (soloing)

Make sure you have these techniques nailed down before attempting to play this song. Start slow, use metronome + have patience, and after a while you’ll be able to play it confidently and properly.

Escape – How Hard Is It To Play?

How hard is it to play Escape on a guitar?

Escape is among the slower paced Metallica songs. That’s what makes it not that hard to learn. However, you’ll need to improve dexterity and palm muting technique for this one.

  • downpicking
  • palm muting

Downpicking techniques is almost always played in combination with palm muting. Make sure you exercise these two techniques. You don’t want to sound muddy and sloppy.

Creeping Death

How hard is it to play Creeping Death on a guitar?

Creeping Death is technically not a complex song, but nonetheless it is not easy to play. It’s mainly due to the fast tempo the song has. Downpicking technique + the 200 BPM make a killer combination that demands a lot of stamina and skill in playing.

Opening Riff

The opening riff consists of power chords and downpicking on low E string. It requires strong hand and some picking accuracy.

Second Riff

This is the hardest rhythm guitar part in the song. It begins around 0:20 from the beginning. What makes it hard to play?

  • downpicking

Downpicking is, as you know it already, one of the signature James Hetfield’s techniques. It is hard because it is so tiring for a playing hand. Make sure you start slowly, with the tempo you’re comfortable with. Exercise, exercise, and more exercise. And patience.

And by the way, take a look at this article in case you’re stuck with this hard technique.

  • tempo (it’s fast!)

The tempo of this part of the song is around 200 BPM. That’s pretty fast! Again, start slow. Use a metronome and eventually you’ll reach the original tempo at which you’ll be confident playing.

Chorus (“So let be written…”)

The tempo of the chorus is the same as the part before it. However, it is somewhat easier to play on a guitar. That’s because you have these power chords ringing out periodically.

That provides your hand a rest for a second, and that means a lot!

Bridge (“Die, by my hand…”)

In terms of technicality and difficulty, IMO this part is the same as chorus part. Power chords, downpicks with resting parts…


Solo in Creeping Death is one of my favorite Kirk Hammet’s solos ever. In terms of difficulty, it’s simple – it is hard to play it. Of course, it is fast and it employs fast guitar techniques like:

  • alternate picking
  • bending
  • sweep picking

Sweep picking is especially hard soloing technique. Make sure you exercise it slowly at first (with metronome).


Creeping Death is hard to play. It is fast, and it is exhausting for your playing hand. However, take it as a challenge. When you learn it properly, your playing confidence will rise through the roof!

The Call of Ktulu

How hard is it to play The Call of Ktulu on a guitar?

The Call of Ktulu is not that hard to play when. However, it’s not that easy, too. Although the tempo of the song is slow (in Metallica’s context), the song demands a high amount of dexterity and accuracy in fingers.

It starts with D minor triad. Alternate picking is the technique you have to employ to play this. At first glance, I thought this would be easier than it actually is.

However, when you start playing this part, you soon realize how easy is to make a mistake. That’s why this song is a great exercise for alternate picking technique, and accuracy in general.

The question is: How to play it flawlessly? My answer is: Spider exercise. It is a famous guitar exercise that will make your fingers stronger + your dexterity will improve a lot.

Here it is. Do it for 10 to 15 minutes a day. After a week, you’ll be amazed by results.

That, along with metronome is the key for nailing this song.

Later parts are not that hard. It’s just a basic downpicking and palm muting technique you need to master in order to play this confidently.

How to get the sound right?

Let’s say you mastered this song. But still, you can hear the peculiar reverb effect on guitar. In order to sound proper, a reverb pedal is a good choice. I have a few reverb pedals in my room, but this one is my favorite. What I like the most is that you can modulate your own reverb preset and store it in the pedal.

Along with it, you have 7 default presets already. Also, it looks quite nice. Check it out on Amazon for more info.


I hope you really enjoyed reading through this article. Metallica is one of my favorite bands, and I enjoyed writing this analysis.

Check out other interesting stuff on my site.

Cheers, and rock on!

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