Metallica - Master of Puppets
Heavy Metal
8 songs ()
Release year: 1986
Reviewed by Jason

Every few years there comes a band, album, or song so great that no matter what musical genre you prefer, acknowledging the fact that their music will always remain a timeless classic is just a matter of common sense. For instance, putting musical preference aside, no one can deny that Bob Marley will always remain classic and that his music has changed the face of much of the industry, or that Led Zeppelin is one of the granddaddies of rock, and that The Ramones, Sex Pistols, and The Velvet Underground are the concrete foundation of virtually all Punk Rock. Every kind of music has its select few artists that define and steer the genre they play, and though Metallica may have “changed” through the years, much of their music will remain everlasting classics that have forever changed the face of music. The Black Album may have made Metallica’s classic status a universally held opinion, but its Master of Puppets whose greatness is the least disputed among metalheads and that sealed the deal making Metallica gods within the metal realm. So with no further a due, I present to you the review of the long awaited and missing classic which I believe is the master…MASTER of the entire Metallica discography: Master of Puppets.

Until I heeded the call to review this album, it had been almost 8 years since I’d heard Master of Puppets its entirety; though I could air guitar every riff of Battery, Master of Puppets, and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) I could only vaguely remember what the rest sounded like. I went out and purchased this album a few weeks ago and when I popped the disc into my car stereo my brain nearly exploded. What hit me was a euphoric feeling close to the one you get when you’re in the midst of alleviating a long sexual dry spell; “how the hell did I survive going so long without this” I asked myself. I could just imagine what it would have been like to be a teenager in 1986, and through word of mouth (before the days of free music at the touch of a few buttons), blindly purchasing your first metal cassette sporting a cover with a seemingly endless cemetery and only wondering what kind of sound this piece of plastic is going to throw out of my speakers. Most of the people who have gone through this experience will tell you that their taste in music would never be the same; they’ll tell you that the second they heard that acoustic interlude at the beginning of Battery erupt into a deep melody, followed by that relentless galloping riff, a microscopic Che Guevara initiated a musical uprising in their head, and by the time the album was entirely finished, the sheer power, solidness and bad-ass sound turned that mental uprising into a full-scale revolution.

Like all bands that have a classic in their discography, their golden status is usually attributed to a mixture of balance, well written lyrics, musical variety and successful experimentation. Master of Puppets nails all those things on the nose with a sledgehammer as it flawlessly transforms the older, raw-ish sound on previous releases into a beautifully produced beast that distances itself from that “garage thrash” feeling, and closer to a cleaner and more solid sound - never seen in this way in the metal sphere. Simply said, any positive adjective that you can possibly think of to label a kick-ass metal song likely applies to every track on this album.

Everything on Master of Puppets is done right from beginning to end. Each track bears its own signature sound, the “more furious” tracks never become repetitive, the ballad-like interludes fit like pieces of a puzzle, and the musicianship is simply a work of aggro-genius. As soon as the intensity of battery fades, the second self-titled classic smashes the listener’s ear with that all-too-familiar riff that all guitar players try learning the second they picked up a guitar. The track Master of Puppets is an epic adrenaline pumping monster that is factually a true classic. I know that any sentiment related to music cannot be a fact, but if anyone knows someone that plays electric guitar and has never tried to learn Master of Puppets I will be extremely impressed. This 8 minute gem has many faces – With lyrics centered on the pains of drug addiction: “Taste me you will see / More is all you need / You're dedicated to / How I'm killing you" it begins with a fiery ferociousness that carefully progresses into a mellow interlude that serves as a way for Kirk Hammet to deliver one of many razor-sharp solos on the disc. Master of Puppets is the perfect example of how Metallica was capable of mixing catchy music, intelligent/poetic lyrics, aggression, and stellar musicianship to make a tune that cuts across virtually all cleavages.

After two tracks of hammering speed and aggression, the album takes a slower and heavier turn with “The things that should not be”. This mid-tempo track, with riffs so heavy that you can swear they crunch, is a 6 minute track inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's short story "Shadow Over Innsmouth". The track sounds great when blasted through a high-powered stereo and is an even greater warm-up for the next undeniable classic Welcome Home (Sanitarium).

There isn’t much more than can be said about this track except that it is absolutely stellar. Based on Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, This ballad-like track bears heavy resemblance to the huge hit that would later come on …And Justice For All called One (ring any bells?). The tune begins slow and mellow with an atmosphere that is almost haunting (extremely appropriate for a tune describing a man’s decent into insanity); but the haunting atmosphere becomes short-lived when the true insanity is busted out and the galloping riffs and amazing solos take the stage. What really gives me the chills on this track is the deep melody after the first solo – so deep that it never fails to give me goose bumps each and every time I hear it.

The next two tracks on the album are what I believe to be some of the most overlooked tracks in the entire Metallica discography. Disposable heroes qualifies as one of my top 5 favorite Metallica tracks of all time for good a reason, and that’s because it’s an epic 8 minute track that manages to stay badass from start to end. Lars doesn’t waste a second and kicks off the tune by pulverizing his cymbals before pausing for a few seconds to allow James to deliver a riff that says “this is an introductory riff to a song that is going to rip your head off” – no less than a few seconds later the song erupts into a flurry of speed that would surely turn the smallest mosh pit into sea of flailing bodies. The track is absolutely relentless and its hard to keep from screaming along with James when he hollers “I was born for dieinnnnnnggg!!!!”. Leper Messiah, I believe, is also a track that is often overlooked - probably because it’s sound and vocal arrangements are fairly different when compared to other tunes. This, if anything, adds to the quality of the album as the song gracefully takes many different twists and turns, kicking-off with a rhythmic beat the progresses into a barrage of palmed riffs that will finish ripping off your head if Disposable Heroes hadn’t done it a few minutes before.

Next is one of the more special tunes on the album, and that tune is Orion. This purely instrumental track is the little extra this album needed to show how Metallica are more than psycho metalheads bent on making crazy music, but are, in fact, mature musicians that don’t need “wank” their instruments on a song without vocals to show just how good they are. Instead, they wrote a song that was more focused on intricate tempo changes and accentuating beautiful melodies that bear a heavy resemblance to classical music. As soon as Metallica finishes demonstrating their musical prowess on Orion, the introduction to the last song on the album begins to increase in volume.

Now, this is my favorite part of the review – the reason being is that, as weird as it may sound, Damage Inc is hands down my favorite song by Metallica. It happened when I was 13 years old; I walked into the local skateshop to pick up the snowboard I had put on layaway for a few months and as I was dishing out the final 50 bucks when I noticed the clerk I was dealing with way paying more attention to a T.V screen than he was to me. Right when I noticed this, he says to me “check this out… it’s the best part of the movie”. He was watching a snowboard video titled “The Worst of Whiskey”, which is part of an old snowboard video series that is more concentrated on filming people smash bottles over their own head and vomiting than the actual snowboarding. The second I turned my head Damage Inc began blazing out of the television, and with each cymbal crash at the beginning of the tune, someone would smash a beer bottle on their own head. If that wasn’t enough, as soon as the cymbal crashing began to pick up in pace, a guy in the video began smashing the bottles on his head to the exact speed of the song. I was in absolute awe of the utter destruction. I thought to myself that they couldn’t have picked a better song to show people puking and smashing stuff on their own head, and as stupid as it sound, Damage Inc has forever remained my favorite Metallica song. In my mind it will always be a true anthem of destruction, and whenever I feel aggressive I just fast-forward the song up to the point right before Kirk Hammet shreds his guitar into oblivion.

What this review boils down to is that this album is a piece of gold. It is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the Metallica discography, and whether their sound began changing due to the death of Cliff Burton, the desire for fame and riches, or Aliens for that matter - who cares. The world has been graced with and album of gargantuan proportions and thanks to the often cocaine driven passion to make music, Master of Puppets is one of the many big bumps on the road of music that has steered Metal in the right direction. For this, we should all thank them…for anything else… well… that’s up to you.

"Fuck it all, and fucking no regrets" Metallica – Damage inc.

Killing Songs :
Jason quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Metallica that we have reviewed:
Metallica - 72 Seasons reviewed by Goat and quoted 35 / 100
Metallica - S&M2 reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Metallica - Hardwired... To Self-Destruct reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Metallica - Ride the Lightning reviewed by Adam and quoted CLASSIC
Metallica - Reload reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 62 / 100
To see all 17 reviews click here
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