Retrospective

Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, The 30th Anniversary: “Trapped Under Ice”

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Ride the Lightning 30th AnniversaryIf you don’t understand what this is or why we’re doing this, read this.

“Trapped Under Ice” — now infamously the song Metallica somehow forgot to play during their once-in-a-lifetime 2013 performance in Antarctica — is, for lack of a better term, one of the more traditionalist songs on Ride the Lightning: it would probably fit in just as well on Kill ‘Em All or even one of the early Slayer records.

Still, as far as traditionalist metal songs go, it’s a great one. The relentless pace fittingly reflects the surely-desperate and frantic (tick tick tick tock) mindset of one who is meeting the unsettling end described in the chorus:

Freezing
Can’t move at all
Screaming
Can’t hear my call
I am dying to live
Cry out
I’m trapped under the ice

In the post-Phil Towle age, it’s almost unimaginable that Hetfield would write such morbid and blunt lyrics about death (tracks like “That Was Just Your Life” have a more philosophical bent to them). What’s not hard to imagine, though, is youngsters like Chris Barnes, John Tardy, Glen Benton, and Frank Mullen — all of whom would have been adolescents at the time of Lightning‘s release — obsessively listening to “Trapped Under Ice” and plotting lyrics which would somehow outdo the gruesomeness detailed in the track. (And that’s to say nothing of the hardocre band Trapped Under Ice, who took the name outright.) Both musically and lyrically, “Trapped Under Ice” is almost as much of proto-death metal song as “Angel of Death.”

“Trapped Under Ice” doesn’t seem to be as beloved as some of the other cuts on Lightning, I suspect due to its rather simple nature — it’s doesn’t quite portend Metallica’s eventual greatness the way songs like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Fade to Black” do. But the bar on Lightning is so high, “Trapped Under Ice” still reigns supreme over countless other metal songs. Crank it:

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