“Fade to Black” was a lot of things for Metallica in 1984 when it was released. It was essentially the band’s first ballad, showing the band capable of moving beyond the thrash metal of its debut (“Jump in the Fire”, “Whiplash”, etc).
Similarly, “Fade to Black” — the second single from the bands second album Ride the Lightning — also showed a band that was capable of considering human emotion, as the song explores themes of sorrow and death.
And perhaps more than any other song Metallica released in the 1980s, it pointed to the move to the mainstream that the band made beginning with its album Metallica (aka The Black Album) in 1991.
The song begins with acoustic strums, before eventually reaching the full-metal gallop for which the band is famous, along with the bark of singer/guitarist James Hetfield. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett also turns in one of his best solos in the song.
Ryan King began covering music in 2004 for the Arrow, the student newspaper at Southeast Missouri State University, eventually becoming Managing Editor at that publication. He is also the former Music Editor for OFF! Magazine, an alternative publication published by the Southeast Missourian. Ryan began writing for The Music Universe when launched, but has stepped away to focus on law. He may appear from time to time for reviews.