Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, The 30th Anniversary: “The Call of Ktulu”


Ride the Lightning 30th Anniversary

If you don’t understand what this is or why we’re doing this, read this.

That thing about the importance of the lyrics on Ride the Lightning I was talking about earlier? Throw that out the window for now, because we close out our celebration of the landmark album’s 30th anniversary with, big shocker here, the album’s final track — the all-instrumental “Call of Ktulu.” At least for now, it’s all about the music.

Dave Mustaine’s imprint is all over this one, the last Metallica song on which he was given a writing credit, even though (obviously) he didn’t perform here. There’s something about the sonic structure, the genetic make-up of those riffs, that sounds undeniably and unmistakably Mustaine, a characteristic his work with Megadeth retains even to this day. That scalar ascending guitar lick that starts at 1:15, then reprises again in heavier form at 1:42 (and elsewhere), NO ONE ELSE COULD HAVE WRITTEN THAT RIFF but Dave Mustaine. It’s as obvious as night is dark.

And you know what? Mixed in with Hetfield’s own easily identifiable riffage, Burton’s paw-heavy bass and Lars Ulrich’s… Lars Ulrichness — all four men were given writing credits on “Ktulu” — it makes one wonder what could have been if Mustaine had never been given the boot. Musically speaking — at least here — Mustaine’s and Hetfield’s styles meshed incredibly well together, something perhaps a tad more melodically nuanced than the rest of the album — and Metallica’s output as a whole — but still absolutely uncompromising and heavy, even for a slower track.

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