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Album Review: "Master of Puppets" by US Heavy Metal Band Metallica

Updated on August 12, 2018
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Ara is currently an Accounting student at Glendale Community College in Glendale. CA. His main goal in life is the enjoyment of it.

Metallica: the band as it was in 1986

From left to right: Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield. Lars Ulrich, and Cliff Burton (1962-1986).
From left to right: Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield. Lars Ulrich, and Cliff Burton (1962-1986).

Master of Puppets is considered by many to be Metallica's finest work

"Master of Puppets" is the third studio album by US heavy metal band Metallica which was released in 1986. It is thought by many metal fans to be the band’s best album. Or is it? As a Metallica fan since 1993, I think that while this album is a very solid work by a great band, I still prefer the band’s debut album by a slight margin. Master of Puppets was produced by Fleming Rasmussen, the man who would also produce 1984’s Ride the Lightning and 1988’s And Justice for All. Metallica began their career in 1981 and released Kill Em All. That album has definitely stood the test of time and is a classic that even I will remember forever. Their 3rd album has eight songs for over 55 minutes of hard hitting thrash metal.

Master of Puppets: Songs Battery and Master of Puppets

The opening song Battery starts out with some soft, guitar that is melodic before turning into a fast, hard hitting thrash metal song. Battery was done as a cover song by Finnish folk metal band Ensiferum when Jari Maenpaa was still in that band. That’s one of the most excellent covers of the song that I have heard in my life! Next comes the title track Master of Puppets. This song has been played at the band’s live concerts and it has an excellent softer guitar part in the 3.5 minute part of the song. This provides an interesting time change to the song as well.

The song called Battery

About the Song The Thing That Should Not Be

The Thing that Should Not Be was always one of my favorite songs I would listen to as a teenager. I remember coming back home from school one day during a rainy day in 1994 and listening specifically to this song. The guitar playing in this song has kind of a dark and spooky feel to it yet it is greatly constructed! THIS is the way to write songs, not the way that some bands try to do this and fail at it. Metallica has been very consistent in the songwriting department for the most part and it shows in this album.Metallica are not a religious kind of band in the literal sense but this third song is about a so-called messenger of fear that is terrorizing the children. These children are turning to the father-GOD for help and guidance. And then chaos resembles underground. The solo in this song uses the wah pedal and it is a pretty good one.

The Songs Disposable Heroes and Leper Messiah

The second half of the album is no less impressive than the first half. Disposable Heroes is about a man who goes off to war to fight for his country. He is told to go to the front lines and fight even if there is a high risk of death. The band would once again address these concepts in the excellent song called One two years later. Leper Messiah may be one of the songs that is overlooked by fans but you would be making a big mistake by skipping the song. After a chant of one, two, three, four by James Hetfield, the song becomes a terrific mid-tempo to fast song that builds. The song is actually about how religion has the ability to brainwash its followers but Metallica writes awesome songs all the time!

The Songs Orion and Damage Inc. end a Very Solid Album in the Career of Metallica

The major highlight of the album is the wonderful instrumental song called Orion. This song is Metallica’s finest moment for an instrumental song and it features fine bass guitar work by Cliff Burton at around the 4 minute mark. It speaks to the high creativity and talent level of Metallica and shows why they were one of the best heavy metal bands in the 1980’s. Metallica would once again record another instrumental song called To Live is to Die in 1988. The album ends with the super-fast and excellent song called Damage Inc. So why is Master of Puppets so great even after all these years? It has excellent songwriting, good solos by Kirk Hammett, some of the finest bass guitar work, and good rough vocals by James Hetfield. His voice would improve as the band’s career progressed. Is this Metallica’s finest moment musically as a band? You decide.

The song called Damage Inc. (What a great way to end Master of Puppets)

What would happen to Metallica after the release of the album and the tour that followed?

Metallica would embark on a major tour after the album came out. Sadly, this would be the last musical collaboration for Cliff Burton. He would die in a bus accident in Sweden when the band’s bus would skid off what was thought to be an icy road. The band would be in a state of grief and shock following his death but they would choose to continue as a band. After much auditioning, the band chose former Flotsam and Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted to replace Burton.

Orion (probably the greatest heavy metal instrumental of all time)

The Legacy of Master of Puppets

Master of Puppets is one of the best metal albums of 1986 and all time. It is one of those albums that metal fans will never forget as we are well into 2017. This is one of the best albums ever made by the best US heavy metal band! Metallica has been active for 36 years and four separate decades and they are still going. They would once again go back to their original heavy roots with Death Magnetic in 2008. But Master of Puppets seems to be the album considered by many Metallica fans to be their finest work. In the opinion of this writer, it is not their finest work but it is pretty darn close.

Favorite Song On Master of Puppets

What is your favorite song on the album Master of Puppets?

See results

"Leper Messiah"

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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