Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, The 30th Anniversary: “Escape”

  • Axl Rosenberg

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

If you ask me, “Escape” is the most underrated offering on Ride the Lightning. According to Metallore, the band hates the song, a story made all the more plausible by the fact that they didn’t play it live until 2012 — and even then, did so somewhat unenthusiastically (“You asked for it, you wanted it, here it is,” James Hetfield dryly told the crowd before starting).

Again, I have no idea if this is true or not, but the band’s distaste for “Escape” is said to be because of its less-traditionally metal nature; it’s even been said that they were pressured into writing the track by a label looking for some kind of radio hit. Indeed, “Escape” is the most melodic song on Lightning besides “Fade to Black,” and, I suppose, sure, it’s the “least metal.” But that doesn’t mean it’s not good — if anything, its willingess not to be a ruthless headcrusher in the vein of the title track or “Trapped Under Ice” makes it stand out. James Hetfield came of age in the 70s, and has often spoken about his love for that era’s arena rock acts like Aerosmith and KISS. It can be hard to hear those influences in Metallica’s work — particularly on their first four albums — but it’s undeniable in the chorus for “Escape” and its triumphalist, rebellious lyrics:

Out for my own, out to be free
One with my mind, they just can’t see
No need to hear things that they say
Life is for my own to live my own way

And, yeah — you can dance to the chorus, too. But it’s hardly a disco song — KISS’ “I Was Made for Loving You” is a far more embarrassing attempt to woo a mainstream audience. “Escape” seems like the kind of thing the dudes from Dazed & Confused would enjoy… and that’s not a bad thing.

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