A definitive release.
A game-changing collection of songs.
A band arguably at their peak, revelling in inexhaustible inspiration.
A passionate, progressive moment in thrash history that proved once and for all that thrash was going to change the face of metal as we knew it.
Metallica‘s Master Of Puppets is simply one of the finest metal albums in existence, regardless of sub-genre…..but you already knew that!
It also turns an incredible 35 frickin’ years old on the 3rd of March 2021 and this milestone has prompted us to write a ‘thing’ about it.
Still recording music on their own terms and not bowing to record label pressure to adopt a more mainstream approach – that particular compromise was still 5 years away – Metallica’s third album remains an intense, passionate and progressive pinnacle of thrash!
The track listing speaks for itself.
“Battery” did exactly that, it battered you senseless, while “Master Of Puppets remains a riff-fest of biblical proportions and requires no further evaluation. “The Thing That Should Not Be” still hits like a brick to the gonads and conjures imagery of leviathan-esque, Lovecraftian monsters hell-bent on destruction – a rival to “For Whom The Bell Tolls” in imagery, atmosphere and execution – while “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” is a classic ‘tallica ballad, with madness as metaphor informing James Hetfield’s intelligent lyrics.
The hard and heavy “Disposable Heroes” turned its attention to the depressing reality of war before “Leper Messiah” took shots at TV evangelists in Metallica’s own inimitable way. “Orion” was another showcase for Cliff Burton’s prowess while “Damage Inc” reminded the world that Metallica were a thrash band; a brutal, belligerent thrash band with everything and nothing to prove.
There’s no denying this is one of the greatest records in heavy metal history but it actually plays it safe in many aspects. By following their Ride The Lightning formula to the letter, (hell-for-leather thrasher followed by epic title track, followed by atmospheric, slow-burner etc), Metallica risked diluting Master Of Puppets‘ impact with over familiarity and quasi-sequel status. That’s not to say this album isn’t anything less than an absolute triumph, but perhaps a little bravery with dynamics and song order could have elevated it even further.
These are trivial gripes of course, as Metallica undoubtedly crafted a record that has rightfully gone down in history as a true metal classic, regardless of sub-genre.
Many fans and critics alike name Master Of Puppets as the best heavy metal album ever recorded. We wouldn’t go that far…..but it’s certainly damn close!
- James Hetfield – vocals, rhythm guitar, solo on “Master of Puppets” and “Orion”, production
- Kirk Hammett – lead guitar, production
- Cliff Burton – bass, backing vocals, bass solo on “Orion”, production (main album tracks only)
- Lars Ulrich – drums, production