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Is Metallica's Death Magnetic Better Than Master of Puppets?

Updated on September 30, 2019
CELEBSFAN78 profile image

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

Comparing Metallica's Death Magnetic to Master of Puppets is Worth It

In the long career of the band Metallica I’m sure that fans of the band will ask many questions such as why did they write this kind of album or that kind of album or why did they not always stick to their roots? One question that I feel should be asked is the question is Death Magnetic a better studio album than Master of Puppets? At first analysis most fans of the band would say that no album can even compare to the greatness of Master of Puppets an album that many fans of the band consider to be their finest work in their career.

I realize that many fans would think that such a comparison to Master of Puppets is unthinkable. While Master of Puppets does deserve consideration as being one of Metallica’s best albums for sure, Death Magnetic does deserve consideration as well.

Death Magnetic Album Cover


Death Magnetic Has a More Modern Feel Than Master of Puppets

Master of Puppets however does not have the modern feel musically that Death Magnetic does but the technology in production back in 1986 was more primitive than in 2008. Many things can change in 22 years. With that stated, let’s do a comparison of the various categories between these two studio albums to arrive at a conclusion if we can.

One Song On Death Magnetic & Master of Puppets That May Be Overlooked

One song on Death Magnetic that may be overlooked by fans is the song “The Day That Never Comes.” After that soft start, Metallica shows us some good unpredictability by keeping things on the soft side for a while. The song describes life as being hard, being a drag where progress is just pushed aside. When we are pushed down in life we have to just get back up and keep going. LOVE is a four letter word as James Hetfield says in this song and it is one of the best parts in the song for sure! The band tries to point out maybe in a humorous way that life is this prison that humans are stuck in as long as they are alive. One song on Master of Puppets that may be overlooked is the song “Leper Messiah” with its good bass work by Cliff Burton. Here are the categories that we will discuss.

Death Magnetic Versus Master of Puppets

Which one of these Metallica Studio Albums Is Better?

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"Leper Messiah"

A Photo of the Metallica Band Members Back in 1986

Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Cliff Burton seen here in 1986.
Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Cliff Burton seen here in 1986. | Source

How Death Magnetic Compares to Master of Puppets Reasons 1, 2, & 3

  1. Vocals: The vocals of James Hetfield are more mature and better sounding on Death Magnetic compared to Master of Puppets and he has gone away from his 1980’s style thrash metal vocals that other vocalists at the time used such as Paul Baloff. So the vocals on Death Magnetic are better. Edge goes to Death Magnetic on the vocals.
  2. Bass guitar work: Robert Trujillo cannot match the creativity and artistry that the late Cliff Burton showed on the songs Orion and Damage Inc. Orion starts with an exotic bass guitar feel that makes it unique as the guitar work accompanies it. Pure brilliance and I don’t think that Metallica will ever be able to duplicate what they did on Orion.
  3. Thrash metal technicality: both of these albums possess the quality of being technical thrash metal however Death Magnetic being more modern in its sound just feels fresher and complex in terms of the riffing. And Death Magnetic has a very good ballad song in The Unforgiven 3 and Master of Puppets has no ballads so Death Magnetic gets the edge for having a ballad and a more modern sound compared to Master of Puppets.

How Death Magnetic Compares to Master of Puppets Reasons 4 & 5

4. Cover Art: both Death Magnetic and Master of Puppets have cover art pertaining to a very controversial subject and that is death. James Hetfield took the time to explain the meaning of the title Death Magnetic and he said that the title was inspired by the late Layne Staley of the band Alice in Chains who died young. The title was given to the album to sort of pay tribute to these rock and roll star that died young. Hetfield also said that some people are afraid of death and try to push it away but we will all have to face death at some point in life. However, I like the cover art of Master of Puppets more than Death Magnetic.
5. Songs: both albums have very outstanding songs so it is hard to choose one album over the other. I myself enjoy both albums but the modern era has seen a major growth for Metallica and to me they are the greatest American heavy metal band of all time

"The Day That Never Comes"


Death Magnetic and Master of Puppets Final Thoughts

Bottom Line: both Death Magnetic and Master of Puppets have great songs that fans can enjoy for a lifetime and it is hard to choose one album over the other but in terms of bringing Metallica to the front of the heavy metal world in terms of popularity, Master of Puppets did this to them and the album represents what was part of the culture at the time. So which of these studio albums is better? Tough call but if I had to choose one, well Death Magnetic wins in the modern era given the factors described above even though most fans of the band would choose Master of Puppets over Death Magnetic. You make the call but for the modern era Death Magnetic wins because of the album’s maturity in the vocals, variety in the songs and a return to the roots of thrash metal. Back in 1986, the United States was one of the best nations in creating heavy metal that was of high quality. That’s not to say the US doesn’t have good metal music now but back then it was one of the finest nations for the genre.

"Orion" Metallica's Best Instrumental Song

© 2018 Ara Vahanian


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    • CELEBSFAN78 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ara Vahanian 

      11 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Thanks for leaving your comment here. I'd like to know some of your reasons why you prefer Master of Puppets over Death Magnetic. It is a tough call which album is better as both of them are great. Death Magnetic has a more modern sound to it as I mentioned in the article whereas Master of Puppets has more of that 1980's sound. It is good to know that you prefer Master of Puppets.

    • Michael Johnson45 profile image

      Michael Johnson45 

      11 months ago

      Masters of Puppets is a way better Death Magnetic just my opinion!


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