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Metallica > Master of Puppets > Reviews
Metallica - Master of Puppets

The various different innovations of 'Pastor of Muppets' - 93%

Annable Courts, August 18th, 2023

Greatness is found in the ability to transcend one's field. Michael Jordan was more than a great basketball player, Michelangelo was more than a great sculptor, and Metallica in the eighties were more than a great metal band. On 'Master', their music transcends thrash metal in that people outside the genre could tune in and find something that spoke to them. The appeal goes beyond the limits of a mere genre. There's the pure thrash on the menu too, but the album is full with sections that are excellent music, first and foremost, before being excellent metal.

The introduction to the album is like a metaphor: the early signs of embryonic life, as the first sound the listener hears are these bare acoustic guitar strums. Then a lead comes on top. Then the harmonies, progressively, join in and flesh out the section. It's a blossoming. Until suddenly, an explosion of musical warmth and harmonic richness comes crashing onto the scene as the section transfers to distortion guitars and drums, and it's dramatic and triumphant. It's Metallica from 'Ride the Lightning' reborn, and stronger than ever. The riff that ensues, is known by all thrashers across the globe, and needs no description. It is simply thrash incarnate. Battery! That scooped (bass and treble heavy, big cut in the mids) and gain-laden yet tight guitar tone just didn't sound of its time, and constitutes one of the big anachronisms in the genre.

The self-titled epic does something rare. It takes all these different sections which, surely, based on their number should be used to make a progressive song; and yet, it puts them all together in a way that still feels totally consistent, with the same natural flow a 4-minute song would have. Yet it's roughly twice that length. There's one noticeable big break, as the drums stop and the clean guitars chime. But generally all the various different sections for eight minutes connect to produce one song. It's quite a feat when one thinks about it: that classic arithmetical metal intro, the blues thrash verse, that excellent pre-chorus riff that blends power chords with melodic single-note riffage ("Come crawling faster"), and then the epic chorus ("Master! Master!"). All parts different in nature. All work together like a charm, like they always belonged as one. And what metalhead will ever forget the twin lead harmonies on the clean guitar interlude? - and what a great finger pattern on the fret-board. That's precisely what "classic" feels like.

Metallica's single darkest ever song follows, and its title is borrowed from none other than metal's favorite weird fiction novelist, H.P. Lovecraft; and it's the heaviest song on here; but at no.4 'Sanitarium' does more of that lovely staccato twin lead patterning on the solos, particularly the one after the first chorus. Those little staccato stops in the phrasing simply make them uniquely Metallica. "Welcome to where time stands still". Those chorused clean guitar plucks almost feel like they're pumping and they give out that distinct feeling of stagnating, like they're a depiction of the imprisonment and numbness described in the lyrics. A pulsating placidity, with buried humanity in the coldness.

Other tracks return to the pure thrash, but often bring along with them that important bit of innovation: 'Disposable Heroes' has that very modern right-hand guitar action it shows off in solo at the start, when most bands were going with straight 16ths and continuous palm-muted shredding. Metallica were doing the equivalent of Fear Factory riffing, from the technique to the modern tone, in 1986. 'Leper Messiah' does that famous guitar effect right before the verse as the power chords fade in and out. That's basically outright groove metal, in the mid-eighties. The riff that comes at 3:15 into the song: that is, from the specific riff pattern to the chord progression around it, an early archetype of the melodic death metal heroic riff. It's basically the greatest riff In Flames never wrote.

'Orion' brought its cosmic appeal to a genre that simply didn't have anything like it. It sounded mighty and the size of a planet. Burton playing overdriven bass riffs as if he were the lead guitarist and the guitars playing power chords at the back: when had anyone heard this? Then, love it or hate it, the mellow second part is the essence of Metallica. Loads of bands were playing guitar harmonies, but nobody sounded this musical, with such a signature sound doing it. Those melodies brought the rounded graceful quality of classical into a world of angular metallic angst. Finally, Damage, Inc.: more of Burton's antics with his violin/synth hybrid use of the bass on the intro showed the breadth of the band's possibilities and ability to reach outside the boundaries. And that riff at 3:15 is the prototype of the modern metal riff: it's the blueprint for all next gen heavy/thrash metal like Iced Earth, and what metalcore would be based on (15 years later).

It's simply not often a single album would pack so much novelty and originality, so early in a young musical movement.

Mutiny In The Air - 95%

Sweetie, May 5th, 2023

Seeing that Ride The Lightning expanded on the thrash metal sound that was in the works, Master Of Puppets more or less reinforced this by cranking out eight more songs in a similar vein. Metallica, if anything, came in clutch and made what is likely their cleanest record from the thrash run in 1986, giving way to not only more memorable chops, but sophisticated outlets for similar emotions. The Bay Area legends boast elements of depression, anger, and likely the clearest expression of reality to date in their third record. Its constant in that manner only adds loads of muscle to the already beefy riff foundation from cover to cover.

By this, I mean that it takes a pretty immense level of skill to make the likes of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” and “Disposable Heroes” fall back-to-back without feeling inconsistent in the least. The production as a whole is truly flawless, from everything to the deep but swift distortions of the rhythms to the echoing weeps of the softer leads. Moreover, “Welcome Home” utilizes the latter to carry an entire armory of depression represented in somber passages, and it truly wouldn’t feel the same without taking on a resentful angle for the back half of the song. This in particular is why it still fits so well with the fury of “Disposable Heroes,” one that utilizes Metallica’s strong ear for proper repetition for suspense in the early days; it’s a shame that that wouldn’t last forever.

Both the repetition precision and the use of build-up work as key factors to Master Of Puppets, something notable on the previous release as well. The infamous title track is likely an even more obvious example of this, especially with how it inverts the formula by cooling down only in the center. Opener “Battery” has the same energy, but focuses on the speed metal element, much like closer “Damage Inc.” (though I would argue that the writing on the closer is far inferior). That leaves the doom influences that make up the bulk of two of the songs. “The Thing That Should Not Be” takes a creeping approach, focusing on the lyrical narrative of unsettlement. Alternatively, “Leper Messiah” reinjects the element of anger that swings off of “Disposable Heroes,” likely being my favorite tune on the record. You could argue that “Orion” does this strictly in the form of instrumental, but the lead guitars here take down the heat a notch in aggression while kicked up one in tempo. Regardless, not a note feels out of place, and for that I love this.

Really, I would say that the most highly-praised disc of the entire thrash metal scene is also one of the most accessible strictly because of how well the production is able to let the heavier parts appeal to a greater audience. It was an expansion of what came before it, and while I still may prefer that first iteration in 1984, it’s an absolute masterpiece in its own right. By this point, the band was long into focusing on specific ideas, and their potential as songwriters was absolutely noticed. If I had to start someone off with a thrash metal album, it would be this one, strictly because of how much ground it covers. It isn’t all about being fast and hostile, but taking that attitude and applying it to all corners.

Originally written for

Their third best album - 98%

AxlFuckingRose, December 2nd, 2021

Master of Puppets is the third installment in a trilogy of albums that built the thrash metal genre. Kill 'Em All, their first, practically invented thrash metal as a fusion of hardcore punk and speed metal. Ride the Lightning incorporated influences from Rush and Rainbow to create a more theatrical and ambitious presentation. Finally, Master of Puppets pushes the boundaries of thrash to the very border of pretentiousness, stopping just short of what would become their downfall on almost every release after.

The production on this album is very clean, arguably sterile, and dampens the sounds of the instrumentation ever so slightly. This is perhaps what saves this record from a perfect score. Because the music itself is just as strong as that of its two predecessors. Songs like "Battery," "Disposable Heroes," and "Damage Inc." have the sheer intensity and energy that made their first album so great, while expanding the song structures to include more bridges and more wild guitar solos from Kirk. This is also the first album without a Dave Mustaine writing credit, though his influence on the band never really went away. James's riffing sounds as precise and as intricate as ever, even if his more technical performance on this album comes at the expense of the untapped rage the band harnessed earlier in their career.

This album's opus, and the best song of the band's career, comes in the form of the title track. From the steps forward the band takes in terms of songwriting and lyrical composition, to Kirk's godlike performances on both the angelic bridge and the wickedly fast solo, this is one of the most complete metal songs ever recorded. The band never lets the pace get too out of control, but it does feel fast, even if the rhythm isn't actually moving much faster than mid-tempo. James Hatfield sounds mournful as he sings about the curse of addiction and the finality of death, topics that are far more meaningful than the lyrics about "we're Metallica!" that percolated their first album. Everything about this song is spectacular, and even though it comes before one of the lesser songs in the track list, it still generates enough excitement for the album as a whole to be exciting.

"The Thing That Should Not Be" is a poor man's "Bell Tolls," but it still kicks ass. James sounds scary on the hook, and the chunky, chugging guitar riff is perfect for the mood the band is going for. Kirk and James's chemistry on guitar works similarly well on the gloomy "Welcome Home," a track about the abuse of mental institutions that sees James making major strides in his singing. He's no longer simply shrieking, he actually pulls off some pretty good harmonies and melody on this track, and on the album as a whole.

This album is structured very similar to Ride the Lightning. Acoustic intro to begin the opening track, followed by very fast riffing. The best song on the album, the title track, coming in as the second. Then a slow thrash track, and so on. But in its own way, this album feels very distinct from RTL. There is more of a sinister approach to the lyrics, and Lars sounds like a much more competent drummer. Cliff Burton on bass also showcases some of his bass lines and performances, specifically on the epic instrumental "Orion." Even one of the less-beloved cuts "Leper Messiah" has its own charm, in witty lyricism and a rampant pace pickup towards the back end. For how much the band would derail on future releases, and however evident the signs may have been that the direction they were heading in was not favorable, Master of Puppets remains a classic release and a testament to how grand and ambitious thrash metal can become, without crossing over into self-indulgence.

Metallica: Master Of Puppets - 94%

MetalManiaCometh, July 27th, 2021

“Master Of Puppets” is an album I've had a plethora of interesting discussions about regarding its musicianship, quality, and status over the years. Just like many metalheads here today that never had the luck to grow up in the public conscious once this record was released; I was, at the very least, lucky enough to hear its contents when I was young, either hanging around my brother and father as they turned on the radio or when they inserted in an original cassette of the record. If anything, “Master Of Puppets” (or one of their other songs from their first four, though I am certain it was “MOP”) I believe was my introduction to thrash metal, let alone possibly my introduction to metal in general. I remember my first time hearing “Battery” and being blown away from the sheer speed and intensity that I had just heard. I had never heard anything of the sort. So then I’d be presented with the title track, “Master Of Puppets”, then down the line I’d hear “Fight Fire With Fire”, then “One”, and so on and so forth. Little did I know that the type of music that I heard here would become one of my musical favorites and passions.

Of course, as I’ve gotten older and my musical knowledge proliferated and my tastes developed like ravenous breeding lagomorphs, I began to view “Master Of Puppets” and the whole of Metallica in vairing different lights. Just as the process of aging changed my body, so did my viewpoint on this release. At one point I thought of “Master Of Puppets” to be one of the greatest achievements in the metal genre, then at some point in time after developing parts of my palette I began to hate the record, despising it, and finally now with all of my tastes in place and my understanding deepened, my finale views of the album is in a much more positive light though with a underline critical perspective.

The best thing about “Master Of Puppets” is its musicianship, if I really think about it. Noticeably James Hetfield's vocals have begun to transition more gruff like with his more screechy and higher pitched vocal style taking the back burner here. I believe “Masters Of Puppets” sets the tone that his vocals would follow here on out; with “The Black Album” touring screwing up his vocals so much that he can barely hit his range here, let alone like he could on “…And Justice For All”. It’s no doubt that James has a presence here, though I find his vocals on “Ride The Lightning” to be superior as he juggles his higher, lower, and melodic range much more equally there compared to this record. James's truly noteworthy accomplishment is his use of his excellent hand with down picking. The title track “Master Of Puppets” utilizes this skill for the first two rhythm patterns into the third and with the opening riff during “Disposable Heroes”. James on the rhythmic guitar is effectively fast and precise, swinging between down picking and alternately picked sections. I noticed a lot of the times when James would down pick, it was usually used to set the tone of the song which I find to be fairly effective.

Lars, like usual on these early records, gets the job done but nothing spectacular. His rhythm section follows nicely along with James's rhythm section, though there could have been some more interesting drum fills in some of these songs as Lars usually employs some basic drum track or, of course, his obvious flaws as he adds random cymbal crashes in very odd places or his obvious rolling snare fill. I know a lot of people like to shit on Kirk, as do I on occasions, but Kirk presents some excellent solo work here like his frantic work transitioning into more a melodic approach on “Battery”, the varied shredding with some spectacular harmonics in “Master Of Puppets”, and his slow melodic crawl in “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”. Of course he has his fair share of that pesky whammy bar, like in “The Thing That Should Not Be”, but I don't find it to be very intrusive like it would be later on in his career. Then there is Cliff with his ever present guitar like bass following up the rest of the band. Cliff’s lines are ever present here as it adds some dynamics that help the music flow along like a river running down stream and presents some memorable performances on “Orion” and “Damage Inc.”. Of course, like everyone mentions, this was his last full album that he’d record, play, and write on before his horrific accident. I don't want to dwell on it as I know the story, you know the story, so there’s no point in regurgitating a terrible tragedy over and over. The only thing I will say is that Cliff’s talent was surely missed after this record as the writing for the bass lines hasn't had much punch or feel since the metal world lost his talent.

On the topic of things being strong, lyrically Metallica fleshes out more of their writing skills here as well. Continuing on from that focal point of social commentary, Metallica begins to delve more into other topics such as the addiction and controlling nature of drugs, mental illness and the possible view that society may be more like a sanitarium (at least something I think ‘Welcome Home'' could mean), the idea of soldiers going into war for heroics though just being seen as expendable in reality, televangelism, and of course who could forget ol` Lovecraftian Cthulhu mythos. In comparison, this effort is much more mature and nuanced, with the exception of “Battery” which I believe is a song primarily based around the band itself and is lyrically much more childish in comparison.

When it comes down to the production of this album, I find it to be fairly audible though I think it lacks more of that “punch” that “Ride The Lightning” has. I guess for example, when I compare each of the title tracks, “Ride The Lightning” and “Master Of Puppets”, I notice the guitars feel a little more dialed back in “Master” than it is in “Ride”. I believe that “Master Of Puppets” does achieve to make the vocals and instruments a little more clearer, with the bass having just a little less distortion, but with that achievement I find the overall “crunchiness” of the bass to be lessened and the homogenous between the players is a pinch lost. Not saying the record sounds bad or lacks any dynamics or punch to the overall sound, I just don’t find it equal in quality to the previous record's production.

I guess I can now finally really get into my more “critical” side and address the elephant in the room. This isn't Metallica’s greatest achievement, nor is it thrash metals or the whole metal genre as a whole. Listen, “Master Of Puppets' ' is a fantastic album and not deserving of scores like 0%, 5%, 25%, or 63% nor does it deserve a perfect 100% score like some have issued. As I’ve viewed, the public seems to skip over the fact that “Master Of Puppets'' is effectively just “Ride The Lightning” part 2 with added fluff, repetitiveness and simple riffing. Practically everything that made “Ride The Lightning” such a great record is here, a thrashy opener that starts with an acoustic beginning section (“Battery”-”Fight Fire With Fire”), a ballad (“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”-”Fade To Black”), a slower building doom like song (“The Thing That Should Not Be”-”For Whom The Bell Tolls”), a instrumental (“Orion”-”The Call Of Ktulu”), and the rest of the album being mid-tempo songs (you know what they are and you get my point). Now you’re probably wondering “if “Master Of Puppets” is practically just “Ride The Lightning” part 2, why isn’t it also getting a 100% like you did with the previous album?”.

The biggest issues comes down to the repetitive and simple nature a portion of the record exemplifies and in turn, time signatures are extended creating what feels to be what I call “musical fluff”. To give a comparison, most of “Ride The Lightning’s” songs average between four and five minutes while having a couple of songs around six minutes and the instrumental at almost nine. Now with “Master Of Puppets”, almost half the songs average between six to eight minutes with three coming to around the five and a half minute mark. Now “Master Of Puppets” having longer songs isn’t the issue, it’s what the band decides to do with them. For a good portion of songs, such as “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”, “Disposable Heroes”, “Leper Messiah”, and especially “The Thing That Should Not Be”. For a good portion of these songs, a lot of time rides on the main riff with very little additional riffs and minimal variations to the main riff. Even a song such as “Master Of Puppets” does this to an extent, though it comes off more successful as other variations of the main riff and the changing to other riffs are much more common. Not to mention that some of these riffs that take up half and even three fourths of the runtime can be fairly basic and simple in structure, you end up with songs feeling somewhat bogged down and dull. On a side note, I also don’t believe “The Thing That Should Not Be” to be a fairly well employed doom like song, and prefer the previously mentioned “For Whom The Bells Toll” or even something like Overkill’s “Playing With Spiders / Skullcrusher”, which is a comparison I will go on in much greater detail in my “…And Justice For All” review.

I’ve heard people give excuses for the length of the songs, saying it adds to the “progressiveness” that the album has, or makes the songs more “epic” but having songs being fairly repetitive and simple does NOT add to any type of progressive nature or create a sense of epicness. The issue is a lot of these songs take advantage of these long run times but doesn’t really add anything to give reason for said longer time signatures. I don’t think these songs are bad, far from it as I believe they have some very memorable riffing and there is a fair amount of progressive moments and technical ability, it’s just undercut with some repetitive and at times, simple riffing that brings it down a little. Some also say that this is an album with the perfect balance between the furious power of thrash metal and retaining a more public acceptability or marketability. Even if that was the case, something being easier for the masses to digest isn't a signal of quality and acts more as a straw man to justify more simple music structures and repetitiveness.

Is “Master Of Puppets” a bad record? The downfall of thrash? The downfall of metal in general? These questions I can answer with a simple no. And I can answer no once again to those who ask if this is the best thrash record ever or the best metal record either. No, it is not bad nor is it the greatest, though I can say it “is” one of the greatest. It is not a record I’d say is in the top ten thrash metal albums ever nor in the top twenty, but possibly somewhere in the thirties or even forties. For “Master Of Puppets” the pros outway the cons though those cons are noticeable and only add up towards their next release. It is a fantastic release, with a good variety of progressive and technical progressions and structures but at the same does have some poorer aspects such as repetitiveness, some fairly basic riff structures, and long run times that can feel kind of wary and dull. I don’t find “Master Of Puppets” to be a masterpiece, as it doesn’t really achieve anything new and falls in the true masterpieces shadow, “Ride The Lightning”, but it does offer a very memorable and enjoyable experience and really, what’s wrong with that?

Ride The Lightning, Vol. 2 - 100%

Ziomaletto, May 16th, 2021
Written based on this version: 1986, CD, Elektra Records (Longbox)

'Master of Puppets', Metallica's most beloved record, proves two things. One, the formula of tracklist for 'Ride the Lightning' was a success, and two, don't completely fix what ain't broken. At that point in time, there's really nothing else to add about this album or band itself, since a lot of other reviews probably beat that horse to death already. So, I'll just keep my discussion brief, showing yet again why tracklist is so important in metal music, especially thrash.

This album's first song, just like last time starts off slow, with acoustic guitars setting a tone. 40 seconds in and the acoustics are thrown out in favor of electric guitars, continuing the dual riff. And after that, 'Battery' kicks off with the same amount of energy like 'Fight Fire with Fire'. The rest of the album almost completely follows the formula that make 'Ride the Lightning' work so well - the iconic gritty title track setting dark mood, 'The Thing That Should Not Be' further cementing the gritty atmosphere, although the song itself may come off a bit monotonous, a ballad that is also a tribute to metal legends (first seconds are reminscent 'Neon Nights' of Accept, guitar work in second half has a lot of Iron Maiden vibe), 8-minute titan 'Disposable Heroes' and more classic heavy metal-oriented 'Leper Messiah'.

There are few changes to the formula, however. 'Master of Puppets' (the song) for example, doesn't have a dramatic outburst of speed, like 'Ride the Lightning' (the song) had in second part of the solo - it's quite opposite situation, actually. 'Disposable Heroes' isn't a lighthearted fun song that was 'Trapped Under Ice' [talking music excusively, not the lyrics], but a much more complex and gritty colossus. But it's really the ending that flips the formula on its head. Instead of epic mid-paced thrasher and grant instrumental we get... slow and heavy instrumental, which is also entirely a child of Cliff Burton, and fast-pace apocalypse, 'Orion' and 'Damage Inc.' respectively. And that's great, cause it'd be kind of dumb to finish such a fantastic album on 'Orion', no matter how great is to hear Cliff's creative input for the last time.

And all I can say is, all those changes to RtL's tracklist formula are very welcomed, especially since the songs themselves are not (mostly) repeats from last album. I can't imagine 'Disposable Heroes' being a start of this whole thing, even if it's a great song. It's also kind of brilliant of this quartet to put 'The Thing That Should Not Be' so early, otherwise it would probably come as much more forgettable. Like I said when reviewing 'Ride the Lightning' - a great tracklist like this can complement all the songs even if their quality is not always spot on.

Reading through the reviews here makes me think that a lot of metal fans probably don't like to think too critically about the media they enjoy. While it's not a bad thing to mention the brilliant song writing or tight musicianship, the fact that out of 37 or so reviews only one man named "bayern" has anything to say about the tracklist - not exactly in positive light, but hey, that's his opinion - makes me speechless. The rest, more or less, just repeats the well-known by everyone points why this album is the greatest/worst thing ever. It's fine to read about first 2 or 3 times, but almost every review is basically the same - either it's "there's only 2/3 thrash songs, it's not thrash album!" or "songs are awesome". Maybe it's about time we start taking more in-depth look on album we listen to, realize what makes them truly awesome and separate them from albums that sound "awesome" only on the surface level. And yes, I am also talking about 'Reign in Blood', but I've already covered that one as well.

Cannot Stop the Battery - 71%

Star_Fox, December 28th, 2020

I'd heard so much about this album from those who either like or are completely indifferent about it. I, on the other hand, really like half of it; I can wreck my neck to the crushing heaviness of 'Battery'. I like the intensity of 'Disposable Heroes'. I could listen to the really cool slide riff and middle-break in 'Leper Messiah,' on repeat – especially that middle-break. I love to crank up the volume when that part kicks in. And, 'Damage, Inc.' is a fast, heavy closer with a great riff in the middle. Those four songs would make an amazing E.P. I don't enjoy the rest of the album as much, though.

'Battery' is an excellent opening thrasher, although, I'd prefer the clean intro to be on a separate track, just like Annihilator's 'Crystal Ann' from Alice in Hell. It affords me the option to skip or listen; that applies to the 'Damage. Inc' intro, as well. And, the title song starts well, with a classic riff, done by just about every rock and metal group in history. The legendary James Hetfield's relentless downpicking is great on it, though – boy, that guy could downpick like nobody's business. The song completely falls apart in the interlude section and some of the final trasitions are a little botched. A better example of this kind of shift in style would be something like Overkill's 'End of the Line'.

There are other songs which don't quite cut the mustard for me, as wel; most notably the slow, dull 'The Thing That Should Not Be'. WoW, it starts off really heavy, but runs out of ideas within the first few measures and it goes on way too long; self-editing and quality-control would barely exist on a Metallica album after '86. And, by comparison, other bands such as Overkill, Slayer, Megadeth and Kreator didn't do anything as dull as this in '86, 7 or 8. Then there's the almost compulsory track 4 ballad, ['Sanitarium'] which lacks the atmosphere and finale of Ride the Lighting's 'Fade to Black'. I like the initial opening, but it's a complete anticlimax in the last sections crescendo.

The parts of the album which are great really outweigh the one's which are not so good; both 'Leper Messiah' and 'Disposable Heroes' have some epic, lightning sections, which sound like the band from their Kill 'Em All days. If you think the middle-break on 'Battery' is alright, as I do, the one on 'Leper Messiah' is even better. The song goes from a chugging slide riff – very similar to the one on 'Ride the Lightning' – to a really epic clean section and some awesome thrash riffing. And, Hetfield's downpicking on 'Disposible Heroes' is outstanding; both songs are probably a verse or couple of measures too long, though. That's the self-editing issue starting to rear its ugly head.

This album isn't bad – it's not great, either. I just about prefer every song on Ride the Lightning, with the exception of 'Escape,' which I'd substitute for 'Leper Messiah'. And, even though I think the better songs on Master of Puppets are infinitely better than those on and... Justice for All, that album is more consistent, throughout. This is still classic Metallica and the following songs are essential listening on my playlist:

01. Battery
02. Disposable Heroes
03. Leper Messiah
04. Damage Inc. (excl. intro)

The most overrated album in the history of thrash metal. - 25%

BuriedUnborn, February 8th, 2020
Written based on this version: 1989, CD, Vertigo Records

Every single metalhead I've ever met has Master of Puppets in their top 10 albums of all time, I'm sure of that. It seems like if everyone loved this album, and I can't disagree enough with these people. I'll put it simply: in my opinion, Master of Puppets is the most overrated thrash metal album to ever be released, it's nowhere as good as everyone portraits it, at least to my ears. Let me explain:

I bought this album back in 2016 perhaps, it was one of the first CDs I've ever owned and I have it next to me as I'm writing this review. I've already known this album previously, Metallica was pretty much the first metal band I've ever listened to and Master of Puppetsi was the song I'd always listen to. Back when I was like 10 years old I'd think Metallica was a badass band and that this album was the best thing to ever exist, but years passed, I've developed new and better tastes in music, I've got a lot of hair all around my body and I've reached the realization that this album isn't the greatest of all time, by a long shot. I might be somewhat biased due to my crippling addiction to progressive and/or melodic death metal or hardcore, and somebody reading this will definitely be thinking that I'm a stupid kid who doesn't know what good music is... Well, I might not know what good music is, but this album in my opinion is not that.

Enough with backstories, bashing the album and repeating the same things again and again, in order to get this review accepted I gotta explain the music, and that's what I'm going to do:

First of all, the guitar riffs; everybody loves a good riff, thrash metal has great riffs, and even this album as some good riffs in it, but not all the time. If I'm going to be honest, Master of Puppet's main riff is really cool and it never gets old, and Disposable Heroes as some good riffs here and there, but frankly, that's all I've enjoyed from this album; some songs are extremely boring and have terrible riffs and melodies. The Thing That Should Not Be has one of the most boring riffs to ever be made by this band, it's truly disgusting how the album goes from a song like Master of Puppets to this, a boring, repetitive song with a lack of interesting melodies or riffs, it's feels like switching from a Ferrari to a Fiat 206 (not that a Fiat 206 is a bad car, but you get the idea).

To one of the most boring songs from this band follows another song which somehow manages to be even more boring: Welcome Home (Sanitarium). Since "Ride the Lightning", Metallica decided that every album should include a sort of power ballad or a slow melodic song, and this is the one in this album. The arpeggio and solo at the start are nice to hear, but after that it just goes downhill, the song lacks of truly good riffing or melodies, maybe this song is not THAT bad on its own, but having to listen to this 6:30 minutes boring song after another 6:30 minutes boring song just fucking annoys me, and the fast part of the song which is supposed to unleash hell with a good riff is just a bunch open palm-muted E notes. What a way to ruin a potentially great part of the song.

Both the first time I heard this release and now, I can hardly bring myself to keep listening after the 4th track because I'm bored as hell at this point; I could barely headbang to the previous songs, but thankfully the album doesn't go downhill too much after this. I enjoyed Disposable Heroes and I believe it's the best song from this album, while the rest of the songs from that point are a big "meh" for me. Leper Messiah it's just another boring mid-tempo song while Damage, Inc. is somewhat a good song except that the flow of the song is ruined by the sudden stops and the whispered "damage incorporated", but I don't think it's as bad as some of the other songs.

Overall, the guitar work in this album is a mixed pile of crap and good stuff, but with crap being around 70% of the bag. Most songs go from great riffs to generic-sounding, shitty riffs and 0-0-0-0-0, kinda like Slayer but without the speed or aggressiveness.

The rest of the instruments are there. It's worth noting (even though we all know it) that this was Cliff Burton's last album before his unfortunate death. I don't Cliff was that good of a bassist as everyone remembers him; I believe he's overrated due to his tragic death, and because people don't dare speaking badly of a dead person most of the time. He wasn't the best bassist metal or thrash ever had, not even close, but he was definitely the best bassist Metallica ever had, and I do think he was some steps ahead of the average bassists at that time, but nowhere near that "godlike" status many people adjudicated to his playing. The bass work in this album is quite depressing, I can barely hear Cliff in the any of the songs except for Orion, and the most amazing thing he plays in this song is that sweet bass solo, nothing else worth mentioning at all, but everything he plays in this song is far more interesting than what he does the rest of the album; in all the other songs, I heard a null use of the bass as anything else than a guitar tuned an octave down; if anybody has read my previous reviews, you know how much I like and appreciate a good use of the 4 (or 5) strings in a song; some bassists do have talent, but it goes to waste because they play the most underrated instrument in all of metal music (in my opinion), and this album (and Metallica overall) isn't an exception to this. Cliff's last work isn't as impressive as it could, and as it should have been, and just a single song with a bass solo doesn't make him justice.

The drums... yeah.. they are there... Lars was never a great drummer and definitely not a creative one, this album has the average drum beats for thrash metal; not many interesting stuff to say about the drums, and that's not a good thing at all, there are no great fills, no interesting beats, nothing worth mentioning from the drums apart from them being average, or even below-average. I even get to think that many of the songs are mid-tempo because Lars couldn't play too fast and well as, for an example, Dave Lombardo could.

Lastly, the thing that completes the puzzle; the vocals. I've never seen James Hetfield as a great vocalist. I mean, he's not bad, but he isn't good either; his raspy voice doesn't sound too harsh or "brutal", and his clean voice isn't too amazing, and he always lacks of melody for the softer part of some songs; most of the time he's just shouting the lyrics (it's thrash anyway), but when he has to go soft he just sounds lame and his voice lacks of any emotion or harmony. Still, his vocal style is far better than those of some other thrash metal vocalists I've heard and it's pretty much a classic, so it's somewhat hard to criticize it, but something that it's not hard to criticize are his lyrics; they are terrible:
Most of the songs sound like random rhyming words being throw together at random, like this extract from Battery:

"Thrashing all deceivers, mashing non-believers,
Never ending potency.
Hungry violence seeker, feeding off the weaker,
Breeding on insanity."

I can't find any real meaning to this other than it might be talking about moshing, which is still unlikely. It just sounds like if Hetfield was looking to make cool and badass lyrics so he just put some words referring to violence together with words that sound "cool" or something. While songs like Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Disposable Heroes or Damage, Inc. make some sense, the rest of the songs have terrible lyrics, and it's obvious as fuck that nobody had any ideas for good lyrics when you come up with this verse from Master of Puppets:

"Hell is worth all that, natural habitat,
Just a rhyme without a reason.
Never-ending maze, drift on numbered days,
Now your life is out of season."

"Just a rhyme without a reason", that sentence explains almost all the lyrics in this album. It amazes me that Hetfield (supposing he wrote these lyrics) was so clueless as what to write that he just decided to write about how clueless he is as what to write, do you understand? I feel like this just takes away all the seriousness from this song and every meaning to the lyrics of it, it ruins everything for me, and I always cringe when I hear this line. I could keep writing example of meaningless lyrics but I would have to transcribe all the lyrics of the damn album almost.

I'm pretty sure I've said everything I had to say about this album. It's not as good as everyone thinks it is, it's not the best album by Metallica. From this point onwards this band went downhill; this release was a huge downgrade from what "Ride the Lightning" was, and apart from just some riffs and maybe one or two songs, I can't find anything great in this album. It's overrated, it's bad, it lacks of almost all things that make albums good in my ears, and it's one of the few thrash metal albums that can't bring me to headbang; I guess this says it all.

The Thing That Should Not Have Happened - 87%

bayern, May 10th, 2019

“Oh my… what on earth is bayern doing, just before retirement? Tackling the Metallica exploits… has he got to say/write anything different from what has already been said/written about this mythical opus?!”

Quite honestly, I don’t; and neither has any self-respected scribe, for that matter; cause the whole review-grading scale has already been covered thousands of times here and elsewhere, from one extreme to the other, with all the more or less necessary details… the thing is that I gave this album a listen the other night, and for a big change I decided to pass through the song that I have been skipping for the past 30 or so years,

“The Thing That Should Not Be”

It was amazing to find out how very well I remember it, having not listened to it for such a huge period of time, with all its gloomy doomy details. Why?! It beats me very hard on the head to the point of a most serious, brain-damaging (inc.) concussion. But more on that later…

Metallica’s staggering success continues to befuddle me; it’s not that they don’t deserve it, but I’ve been trying to detect vestiges of the logical upward trajectory in their career that must have led to the top… and I haven’t been able to. Having in mind that the band peaked very early, on the sophomore to be precise, before even the whole thrash metal carnival had been fully shaped, there was no way, and respectively time, for any trajectory of the kind to be formed. Then I guess we all have to blame it on this Blackest of Albums, released at the dawn of a new decade, a visionary recording that captured the audience’s imagination so strongly that its enormous (death) magnetic, inertia-amassing impact still brings in the revenue some 28 years down the line, ultimately blurring the memories of “loads”, “reloads” and other miscalculated flops along the way. No wonder I started wearing black almost exclusively in the early-90’s; it has remained my favourite colour all these years (yeah, right!)…

listening to this gravely serious, inordinately officiant opus here, I can’t help but respect the guys for having chosen this more commercially-viable path, the one of the genre-stretching, more message-oriented repertoire. On the other hand, if you think of it, 20-something (barely) lads, having entertained the fanbase previously with “Hit the Lights” and “Fight Fire with Fire”… had they really chosen it for themselves, I mean voluntarily:

“listen lads, I think we should start thinking about how to conquer this music industry, how to ride it ingloriously like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I have this nudging feeling that the music crown is ours for the taking… don’t laugh here, hey! I’m serious. We should give it a try if nothing else. The thing is that if we keep moshing like demented on “Whiplash” and “Trapped Under Ice”, showing middle fingers left and right, and get drunk every second night, we will never get the chance. So why not get serious for a change, just for an experiment? To see if we could kill’em all, literally? What do you say?”

I’m not quite sure who may have come up with this statement of intent, but such a scenario was pretty possible some time in the middle of 1985; yeah, the guys had decided to leave the pungent stench of gasoline from their parents’ garages where they had been rehearsing day in day out, far behind and aim for the nice, posh studios. The album reviewed here by no means reeks of expensive perfumes and queens’ chambers’ fragrancies, but its much more officiant, intentionally academic lustre is hard to disguise although both “Battery” and the title-track are such magnanimous, sincerely spread-out compositions that those two alone should suffice to shoot the album into the stratosphere. Reaching the level of its brilliant predecessor? Totally… if one, just one, thing hadn’t happened:

“The Thing That Should Not Be”

In any other normal, more morally-advanced planet around the Universe, especially the ones I have already visited, Flemming Rasmussen would have been crucified right upon release. Or maybe not… I don’t know, maybe he and the boys thought that they could get away by placing the weakest cut right after the two best ones. And they amazingly did, like both the commercial and critical results had subsequently shown, although to these ears this track is such a mood killer that a more impressionable, also more demanding, listener would have instantly reconsidered his high estimates formed under the influence of the first two. It’s really hard to view this monotonous, one-dimensional chugger as an enhancer of any kind, and smacked right after the mentioned two showdowns when the fans were all, without exception, anticipating another mad thrashing skirmish… it’s not easy, not easy at all to find an excuse for its presence so early in the album.

A few years back I thought about how to possibly soften the not very positive impact from this “thing”; here’s how, with some help from the Horsemen themselves:

“let’s try and re-arrange the tracks on our supposed magnum opus a bit more appropriately, guys; we’ve nothing else to do anyway. With all due respect to Flemming, the man should have looked/listened better; and where on earth were we at the time as well?!

1. Battery
2. Master of Puppets
(great beginning, those two; no comments)
3. Disposable Heroes
(the thrashing has to go on, god damn it; did we really think we had gotten the job done with two raving masterpieces, to keep the whole world moshing? Let’s think again…)
4. Sanitarium
(the necessary calm after the storm, great stuff, not very sleep-inducing, quite edgy as well; there has to be some end to the madness, after all)
5. Leper Messiah
(nice varied package, stomping mid-pacedness plus a couple of explosive outbreaks, a little bit for everyone)
6. Orion
(time for the obligatory instrumental variations; this one’s a bit overlong and maybe not very eventful, but hey, we put our hearts and musical diplomas into it, remember? And, there’s never anything wrong with providing a soundtrack for the multiple stargazers out there…)
7. The Thing That Should Not Be
(yeah… couldn’t have come up with a more self-explanatory title even if our lives depended on it… but we created it, this Frankenstein-like behemoth; what could we do, we had to include it. Besides, we had nothing else to replace it with… no, no, no; we can’t pretend that this thing never happened, enough with this!)
8. Damage, Inc.
(brilliant stuff; damaging indeed, full-throttle mosh to the ultimate death… sorry, damage; after all, we were still young, overtly enthusiastic thrashers back then… right? Right?!)”

Yeah, that’s definitely more like it, thanks guys. Well, for me personally this layout makes more sense also making “Sanitarium” sticking more prominently as a desirable respiteful diversion from the initially encountered thrashing spree; the “thing” as its immediate predecessor emphasizes on its idyllic qualities more with the introspective mood deepened, something a supposed thrash metal recording shouldn’t be deliberately looking for. It’s not that the band have problems later recapturing the hyper-active riff-patterns from the beginning, but even as a possible element of surprise “Sanitarium” would have worked better if separated from this third in order of the Sun. The “thing” itself would have been way more effective if placed as the pen-ultimate track, right before “Damage, Inc.”, a brooding not very eventful stomper respectfully brushed aside by the thrashing fury unleashed on the final roller-coaster… not terribly bad, not necessarily very noticeable, not pulsating like a sore thumb in the middle.

Elsewhere there’s very little wrong with this effort, especially when it became clear that the audience was quite willing to embrace thrash metal’s more serious face. Neither truly ground-breaking nor genre-killing, it showed where the guys were standing at this point in time, determined to take themselves seriously as well as the whole thrash metal parade which, whether the fanbase liked it or not, was simply not going to be the same afterwards. With calculation and premeditation taking over from spontaneity and youthful vigour, this couldn’t have possibly been “Ride the Lightning II”… and yet again, how this opus here worked its magic on the audience to such an extent is mind-boggling; thrash literally became a hot commodity that everyone wanted to have in his/her household all of a sudden. However, did we, the hard-boiled thrashers, feel genuinely happy seeing our favourite music an attraction item for the Depeche Mode and the U2 lovers? Cause this was exactly the case in the late-80’s…

I personally can’t answer this question as I was by no means the most devout thrash maniac out there; in fact, I wasn’t thrash-savvy at all when this effort got released. I only possessed the album here, Destruction’s first two and Anthrax’s “Spreading the Disease” from the thrash roster back in those days, and also had half an hour from Megadeth’s “Peace Sells…” on side A (or B) of a worn-out Sony cassette on which my father accidentally stepped one day and broke. I did like this “masterful” opus a lot, though, and not only because one could hear it from literally every corner, the four Horsemen racing with their German brethren from Accept for the “the most popular metal act in Bulgaria” title. I was shouting “Master… Master!”, trying to sound as intimidating as possible, alongside the other metalheads being aware, beyond the shadow of a doubt at the time, that I was listening to something truly wonderful and formidable. After all it was METALLICA, the name says it all, the absolute epitome of all things metal both name and music-wise.

Later both “Ride…” and “Kill’Em All” became more frequently rotated listens in my house, but I can’t help but go back to this opus; I even feel guilty now for having skipped this third number so many times. How the hell did God not punish me for this by breaking my cassette recorder/CD player? I’m pretty sure the Almighty spins this disc/vinyl now and then up there, too, from beginning to end, I mean; no skippings… there are no miscalculations, no ill-advised creations for him; everything is just the way it is, no judgemental ramblings attached… anything coming from the mind of God has its rightful place and time in the universe, and is/was bound to happen.


BastardHead, May 2nd, 2019

I know, I know. On the list of things the world needs right now, another fucking Master of Puppets review is pretty well near the bottom of the list. But honestly, I just got a wild hair up my ass and I want to talk about Metallica. Suck it up, nerds.

Metallica has somehow managed to survive no less than three or four extinction level career-enders throughout the years, and in many ways they're a constant punchline in the underground, for some valid reasons (the Napster lawsuit, St. Anger, the utter fucking absurdity of their reissues of classic albums), and some less valid (the Some Kind of Monster documentary, "selling out" with Load and cutting their hair in the 90s, whatever beautifully awful avant-garde disaster Lulu was), but I think it's easy to forget that once upon a time they were actually really god damned good. Metallica ruled the fuckin' roost in the 80s, and I think it's easy to lose sight of just how big and impressive they were simply because we live in the internet age and can hear their more extreme contemporaries like Slayer or Dark Angel with a two second youtube search. They were never the fastest or angriest or most brutal band in the world, but I think a big part of the charm is that they neither seemed to claim nor try to be. They always just sorta did their own thing, helping to solidify what thrash metal was in the first place and then pretty much immediately breaking their own rules and doing weird shit like writing nine minute long instrumentals and punctuating blistering riff assaults with major-key doodly melodic shit. They were never the only band doing these things, obviously, but they did have the biggest stage by the time the latter half of the decade rolled around and they leaned into what made them stand out.

To get one thing out of the way right off the bat, Master of Puppets is by no means their zenith, and in fact is actually an inferior 1:1 copy of it. Ride the Lightning is better in almost every conceivable way. The riffs are better, the songs are more well constructed, it has fucking "Creeping Death" on it, which was my favorite song in the world when I was a little kid and to this day I'd probably still put it in my top ten, it's just the superior record by almost every single metric. The only areas where I'd say this album has the edge are the production (which is chunkier and heavier) and the vocals (which honestly just comes down to preference, I love the zit-faced voice-cracking exuberance of the first two albums but I'd give the edge to the slightly deeper and gruffer voice James starts sporting from here on out). I know it's old hat to point out but the tracklist is ordered nearly identically as well, and it's something they'd stick to for basically the rest of their career. Quiet intro leading into fast thrasher - title track (usually fast thrasher) - midpaced chuggy song - ballad - fast thrasher - midpaced melodic one - then usually the instrumental before closing on another fast thrasher (this was flipped on Ride but holds true on every other album that apes the formula). Again, on a 1v1 comparison, Ride wins 7/8 times, with only "Leper Messiah" being clearly superior to "Escape".

But I'm not here to talk about how it's not as good as something else, I'm here to talk about how good it is on its own, and dammit it is good. And it's good for kinda weird reasons at times. One thing about the band in general that I didn't really appreciate until I was a bit older is just how fucking good of a rhythm player James Hetfield is. Ask any guitar player and they'll tell you the same thing. The man's dedication to downpicking damn near everything no matter the speed is unreal, his right wrist probably has a six pack. Playing something like "Disposable Heroes" in one shot is a fucking endurance test for your picking hand, and he manages all of these things flawlessly. It's not the most glamorous position in the world to be one of the best rhythm guitarists out there, but almost all of the band's tightness comes entirely from him.

And therein lies one of the things I love most about this album, it is somehow simultaneously their tightest offering while still being really loose. Like a pair of bellbottoms, it's tight in the balls and loose at the ankles. There are tempo shifts all over the place that the band obviously handles masterfully, but there are times where everything seems to kinda fall apart and it still sounds completely intentional. Listen to "Battery" and really pay attention to the verse riff in relation to the vocals. They almost sound like they're in completely different time sigs in completely different tempos. The powerchords hit at strange, offputting times against the natural cadence of the lyrics, and it's all so god damned natural sounding that I never really noticed it until my 400th listen. Also check out the verse riff to the title track. The conventional wisdom (and official transcription) is that the verse riff consists of three measures in 4/4 time and tails on one measure of 5/8. But if you actually play it as written it sounds completely wrong. Switch that last bit to 6/8 and it sounds even wronger. In actuality, through no real intention, that bar is actually played in fucking 21/32, purely because the guys were just playing by ear and doing whatever sounded right to them, and adding in that one random 32nd note of pause should've been a flow-breaking disaster that instead hits like a fucking hammer. None of this was intentional progginess by a group of theory nerds, it's just what happens when you play by feeling and just run with the natural ebb and flow of your own manic riff-energy.

Those two previous points tie into another thing I didn't really appreciate or understand until I was older, and that was just how... fucking weirdly wrong Lars's drumming is. I didn't even notice this until it was pointed out to me, but he actually kinda fails miserably at the drummer's main fundamental job in any band. He is not the timekeeper of the band, James is. Whether his ineffable tightness is a coincidental complement or a learned necessity to Lars's bizarre, Bill Wardian sloppiness is up for debate, but that's what I meant when I said the band is tight entirely because of him earlier. I had always thought of Lars as a brain dead simple rock drummer miscast in a thrash band, and I still think that to an extent, but once you start to really pick apart his performances you start to realize just how frequently he adds in rolling snare fills and random cymbal crashes at the least comprehensible times. Listen to the outro of "Orion". Just what the hell are you doing man? Why is that china crash happening that one random ass time? Why are you starting bars on random tom hits? This odd looseness to his playing only amplifies that "tight but loose" thing I was talking about, the band is basically playing in free time but still sound like laser-guided riff machines. And even with his incredibly obvious flaws, I always thought Lars (weak link though he is) was absolutely irreplaceable when it came to Metallica. His style is so much more basic than pretty much every other thrash drummer, and I feel like his simplistic backbeats are a huge part of their identity and a big reason why they became as popular as they did in the first place. Think about a track like "Disposable Heroes" or "Damage, Inc." and then think about how much fucking meaner and more extreme they would be if the only change was that Lars was replaced with Dave Lombardo or Ventor or something. Would they be better? I dunno, that's up to you to decide, but they would undoubtedly be much different if they were played in super precise double time and that one single change could make those songs simply un-Metallica.

I realize this is already getting pretty long and is very stream-of-consciousness, but honestly this is just a result of my lifelong relationship with the album. My taste has quite obviously veered off into far more extreme directions over the years, but I've liked Metallica for literally as long as I've had memories, and I simply can not understate how utterly obsessed with them I was for years and years on end. There are dozens of albums I've loved since I was a kid but comparatively few they I have actual memories tied to them. For example, I think the seed for what would eventually blossom into my adulthood love of H.P. Lovecraft was planted more from "The Thing That Should Not Be" more than any other pop culture reference. It certainly helps that I love the song on its own, I love that creepy, watery intro and I love how brutally it grinds along at a sluggish pace, repeatedly smashing you over the head over and over again until you're begging for a reprieve. I can see why some would call it boring and repetitive, but god damn it works for me. But no, what entranced me were the lyrics. I know now that it's just kind of a lazy copy and paste of random Lovecraftian buzzwords, but when you're 8 years old you don't know that shit, dude. To me it was so fucking dark and sinister and I felt almost like I was hearing something that I shouldn't. It felt forbidden to my tiny brain. I so distinctly remember laying on my bedroom floor while this song was playing, writing down the lyrics as I heard them and then drawing the images the lyrics conjured. I know that what impressed me decades ago should mean nothing now that I'm a big brained boy, but simply hearing that chugging main riff instantly teleports me back to a sepia-toned warm-and-fuzzy of me doodling squiggly black-cloaked cultists conjuring an incomprehensible monster from the depths of a stormy sea. Yeah I'm not being "objective" or whatever but if you're looking for objectivity in one of my reviews you can go eat sand and fuck back off to Minecraft you simpering git.

And since I've already gone this in-depth and personal, I might as well spray "Orion" with as much of my Burton Fanboy goo as possible. It really isn't a stretch to say that "Orion" single-handedly solidified my choice to pick up a bass for the first time. My heroes when I first started actually playing and writing (or at least attempting to write) my own music were Cliff and Geezer and basically nobody else, and I can't overstate how important this song was to me during that time. All eight and a half minutes of this are coded into the muscles on my fingers, I made it such a point to learn this song front to back, and when I finally mastered it I felt like the king of the cosmos. This really was Cliff's baby, you can tell. He was the lone theory nerd in the band, he was the guy who had his nose buried in books and came up with most of the out-there melodicisms. It was a popular thing for a while to say that Metallica never would've done what they did in the 90s if he was still alive but honestly he might've pushed them there even sooner. "Orion" was his, he was the one with all of the less heavy ideas, he was the one who insisted on injecting melody into heaviness, he was the one who was into R.E.M. at the same time as he and the rest of the guys were pounding brews to Motorhead. "Orion" is that marriage of jangly melodic bassiness blended with ripping palm mutes and screaming guitar solos that so encapsulated what Metallica was doing in 1986. Everything was distilled into itself on "Orion" and I still love this song as much in 2019 as I did whenever it was that I first heard it. That heavy "verse" riff that shows up a few times and carries out the heavy parts before the last fadeout is one of my favorite riffs of all time. That gallop is just fucking sublime.

All that said, Master of Puppets is not without its flaws, I'm not completely blinded by nostalgia here. The only real gripe I have with the album is "Sanitarium", which is, by a cosmic long shot, the shittiest "fourth track ballad" they produced in the classic run. I'd argue that "The Day That Never Comes" is the lone worse one if you stretch it to their whole career, but "Fade to Black", "One", and "The Unforgiven" utterly demolish it in every way. Hell even "Until It Sleeps", "The Unforgiven II", and the fuckin' Bob Seger cover on Garage Inc. completely trounce it. This, to me, is the one song that feels completely obligatory. It's like they were done with the album and then realized that their album formula required a ballad so they just ran back into the studio and banged one out in a half hour. It's just totally unengaging apart from the solid bridge (and even then it's only like one chord away from recycling the verse riff from the title track wholesale), it just feels like the band sleepwalked through this one. Whether you like the album or not, there's no denying that they weren't on autopilot for the other seven tracks. You can't tear through something as explosive as "Battery" or as groovy and infectious as "Leper Messiah" without actually trying, but "Sanitarium" is the one and only point where it really sounds like they weren't.

I'm not sure if I've actually gotten my points across well here, and I might regret hitting the publish button as soon as I click it, but right now I just don't care. I love Master of Puppets, it was a super important album to me and I think it still easily holds up today now that I spend way more time listening to Dying Fetus and Pissgrave. I might've lost the plot a bit throughout this but I've gotten this far without bringing up the weird status this has gotten with the Extremely Online kids who went from noobs to know-it-alls within six months thanks to how easy it is to just stream music nowadays, but it's worth mentioning that this album doesn't deserve to be the battleground it's become. It's extremely popular because at the time this was the thrash album with the most reach and accessibility. Metallica opening for Ozzy in '86 gave them such a huge stage that this album has the distinction of selling over a million copies with no radio singles or music videos. This wasn't the heaviest thing in 1986, lest you all forget that one of my favorite albums of all time is Reign in Blood so don't think I'm being obtuse here, but it was one of the most accessible and easy to get into. And it's because of that relative safety of excellent songwriting coupled with frantically intense riffs and sheer aggression blended with just enough melody to catch ears and just enough extremity to be explosive without being alienating that likely millions of people even got into metal in the first place. I'm not saying that we should be extra nice to this album and not judge it on its own merits simply because it was important and released at the exact right time, but I am saying that if you willingly ignore context on a selective basis (like saying it doesn't matter that this opened so many doors for so many people but it does matter that Dark Angel was faster and heavier) then you should know that I probably think you're a vacuous dullard with little else to be proud of beyond your ego. Master of Puppets is an excellent record with a lot of ideas and most of them hit bullseye.

That's what matters to me.

Originally written for Lair of the Bastard

Rethink what you consider "classic" - 67%

Mailman__, April 6th, 2018

When I was in my sophomore year of high school, my Latin teacher had a laminated "Master of Puppets" poster hanging on her wall.  She would always say it was "the greatest Metallica album of all time."  I, having not lost my virginity to heavy metal at the time, just rolled my eyes whenever she said that.  It wasn't until second semester, after I had realized that the Def Leppard album I had been listening to for about a month ("Pyromania") was classified as heavy metal and after purchasing my first Black Sabbath album, "Paranoia" (which my stereotype-infested mind was surprised to hear a lack of screaming), when I decided to listen to "Master of Puppets."  It ended up being one of those albums that you sort of hold off listening to.  You know what you're like "Hey, I should listen to this album sometime" and you never do?  Yeah, I ended up purchasing "Master of Puppets" before listening to it.  My first impression was "Wow he's like screaming at me and stuff."  It was the heaviest thing I had ever heard up to that point.  I remember my dad walking into my room with a confused face.  He was like "What is this?" and I was like "'Tallica."

I loved my newest addition to my small collection of classic rock CDs (later thrash metal collection, later blackened thrash metal collection, now death metal collection).  I didn't even know what was going on.  It sounded like a wall of aggression and noise slamming me in the face.  Now I look back on it and laugh because, not only is it significantly less heavy than what I listen to now, it's also such a mediocre album.

Yes, that's right.  It's not that great.  There are four great songs on here, a couple of good songs, one bad song, and a shitty waste of eight minutes (aka "Orion").  I guess one could say that it is my least favorite album out of Metallica's "big four" albums.

The album starts with "Battery," one of the strongest songs on the album.  It's thrashy, hard-hitting, and is a nice continuation of what was seen on their first two albums.  This is nice because it's a good indicator that Metallica isn't losing their touch.  But all touch is inevitably lost once the listener reaches "The Thing that Should Not Be."  This is the thing that should not be following up "Master of Puppets," one of the best songs on here.  It's basically six and a half minutes of boring mid-paced thrash without a solo (maybe I missed it; all the solos sound the same on here).  This is the weakest song on here.

The structure of the album (as usual) is my biggest complaint.  Metallica took their best songs and slapped them all on the A-side.  What does that leave us with?  A B-side of boring thrash and eight minutes of straight instrumentation.  How dull does that sound?  Okay, "Disposable Heroes" is a great track, there are some cool riffs near the end of "Leper Messiah,"  and I do like the way they say "Damage Incorporated" on the final track, but none of it is good enough to redeem the entire second half of the album.  Also, "Damage, Inc" is a good song until James starts singing.  On every other track, James' vocals sound fine, but his vocals on this track, for whatever reason, kill the mood.

I think they should have taken all of the riffs from "Orion" and put them on the three actual tracks on the B-side, and then have taken the riffs from those songs and put them on "Orion" because the riffs that are on "Orion" would be better served with vocals.  To me, everything on the second half seems awkward and out of place, and, by the end of the album, the listener will forget the greatness heard in "Disposable Heroes."  They won't forget the greatness of "Battery," "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)," or "Master of Puppets."  Those songs are too incredible to forget.

If you're going to listen to Metallica for the first time, this is a good place to start.  Just make sure to check out their first two albums afterwards so you can find some thrash metal of a better quality.

Overall Rating: 67%

The Rearrangement of Ride The Lightning - 71%

TrooperEd, February 26th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1986, CD, Elektra Records

When one talks about the greatest metal album of all time, thousands of albums will make lists but less than a handful will end up on the top spot consistently. Over the years I've narrowed it down to four: Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast, Black Sabbath's Paranoid, Slayer's Reign In Blood, and the subject at hand, Metallica's Master of Puppets. The respective reasons for these albums are usually, the star arrival of Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris' most enduring and popular collection of songs, Paranoid had the hit single in the title song as wellas the catchiest riff ever in Iron Man (can you think of any other reason why the s/t is less popular?), Slayer arguably did what Metallica should have been doing, setting new standards in brutality, and this album....sold a million copies in a year without a video or radio play?

I'd like to think that one reason this album withstood contemporary criticism because the underground metal public's reaction was "But dude, it's Metallica! They're the generals in the fight against posers and hair metal!" The smarter fans should have taken a que from the Anti-Nowhere League and responded "So fucking what?" In addition, a much more cynical mind can clearly see that this album was a very safe remake of the Ride The Lightning, to the point where each Master of Puppets track can practically be substituted for it's predecessor's counterpart. Side 1 of the album follows this to a tee. The second half is not quite as easy to pin down, likely on account of Lars's scheming, best to presume Disposable Heroes as this album's Creeping Death and Damage Inc. as this album's Trapped Under Ice.

Some say Metallica stuck to the formula in order to refine/perfect it. I disagree. The musical inconsistencies that I pointed out are proof that this was a copy and paste job but with very little thought put into it. Perfecting the formula means starting off Battery and Damage Inc. fast and thrashy. Not to mention the acoustic intro to Battery has no ties to the song's lyrical themes. At least Fight Fire With Fire was painting the picture of an ordinary day before the nuclear apocalypse. Perfecting the formula means finding a more appropriately universal topic for your apparently now obligatory ballad. Not too many folks know what it's like to be locked in a madhouse. Perfecting the formula means not fading out an 8 instrumental because you couldn't figure out an ending in time. Perfecting the formula means accepting customer criticism and applying it. In other words: if your fans tell you to cut out the slow shit and play faster, cut out the slow shit and play faster, or at least tell your lead singer to expand his range so he can try and sound like Ian Gillan. Fans may not know what they want, but they know damn sure what they don't want. If you are going to essentially put out the same album, you need to work within those boundaries of "what narrow minded thrashers DON'T want."

In addition to the writing style, the production and overall band's sound is practically identical to Ride The Lightning as well. The only difference is the guitar tone feels slightly chunkier, the notes don't quite have the ringing/atmospheric feeling they did on the previous album. I'm not a guitar player so I'm not entirely sure if that is because of an increase in palm muted riffs on Puppets. Bass and drums feel about the same, although a nifty piece of trivia is that the snare drum used for this is none other than the snare of soon to be one armed drummer Rick Allen. Overall I consider the production and sound very good, but slightly inferior to Ride The Lightning.

Still, I do think there are great songs here, and not just the fast songs either. The title track is every bit of a classic as its been made to be over the years, and unlike many others who are critical of this album, I don't think there's a single wasted second on the entire track. I feel like cutting out the final verse and chorus that so many want would have hurt the song's story rather than helped. Plus, ok, maybe that breakdown wasn't the first time a metal band (or a thrash band) suddenly switched atmospheres, but I believe the harmonies and James' solo are very high caliber. I also absolutely adore The Thing That Should Not Be and Leper Messiah. Yes, both the fast and the slow sections. Yes the middle break is the best part of the song, but you show me a version of Stairway To Heaven and Comfortably Numb without their guitar solos and I'll show you backwash turkeys that wouldn't be good enough for B-sides.

The only song I've never really cared for that much is Orion. Even back as a fanboy in high-school that loved Load & Reload, I would always skip this to get to Damage Inc. Years later, I understand the mood it's trying to accomplish, but its just too subdued, and the track is damn sure no Call of Ktulu. Even the following album's instrumental, To Live Is To Die has more entertainment value and a stronger emotional core than Orion. Matter of fact you could apply that comparison to And Justice for All as a whole.

I'm a little hesitant to recommend this given its reputation. It's a lot like Star Wars, great entertainment, but not something you should study academically if you want to understand metal and thrash. Proceed with caution.

Killing Your Idols Vol. 1: Mediocritallica - 50%

Woolie_Wool, January 23rd, 2018
Written based on this version: 2014, 12" vinyl, Blackened Recordings (Limited edition, Reissue, Remastered)

Master of Puppets is probably at this point remembered less as a music recording than as a cultural institution, a collective memory among white Gen Xers, disaffected teenagers then and 45-year-old dads with “crossover utility vehicles” and mortgages now, and, thus disconnected from the historical and musical context it originated from, it became perhaps the most overblown, overhyped, and overrated album of the entire 1980s. If you are to believe the cultural narrative surrounding the possibly billion-dollar gravy train that is Metallica, that they invented thrash metal and that this album was some kind of massive leap forward in sophistication for heavy metal. Anthrax guitarist/bandleader Scott Ian, who really should know better considering he was there at the time, talked about Metallica having “taken Beethoven pills or something” in a recent article.

Never mind that Metallica were just a part of a musical movement that emerged organically in both the US and Europe in the early 1980s, itself the inexorable confluence of other heavy music genres that were already well established by the time Metallica got started in 1981; never mind that bands like Manilla Road, Queensryche, Fates Warning and Watchtower had already been pursuing aggressive yet complex “thinking man’s metal” for years before this album came out and doing it better; never mind the incredibly limited musical vocabulary of this music (none of which even remotely resembles anything Beethoven wrote or would have considered writing); never mind that their cast-off lead guitarist Dave Mustaine’s band Megadeth wrote better songs, played faster, and worked harder at every turn up until the middle 1990s. Metallica got to the top by selling the impression of taking their fundamentally simplistic blues-based music to a higher compositional plane, but unlike albums like The Spectre Within or Energetic Disassembly, Master of Puppets (and its successor ...And Justice For All, although that one was slightly more adventurous) wouldn’t challenge the expectations of rock listeners or introduce any truly novel ideas. If you’ve heard a decent amount of hard rock music written between 1970 and 1990, even if you’ve heard nothing besides that before in your entire life, you will “get” Master of Puppets straight away.

The white American rock audience are probably the most incurious audience of music listeners in the world, so it’s no surprise Master of Puppets made Metallica superstars, as what Metallica were selling, perhaps even from day one, was thrash metal rock music that eliminated things that could challenge or alienate Joe Middle America, a heavy metal Elvis Presley in the worst possible sense. In lieu of the terrifying irrational chaos of Slayer, the toweringly complicated rhythmic architectures of Watchtower, the virtuosic showmanship of Megadeth, or the relentless hammering brutality of Kreator, Metallica had comfortably familiar blues-rock scales and riffs and the sheer energy of four alienated, genuinely pissed-off teenagers. But by 1985 Metallica weren’t teenagers anymore, and their real-world troubles had dissolved in torrents of money, attention, and alcohol as they now lived full-time in the fucked-up, ass-backwards anti-reality of show business. Another “Whiplash” or “Fight Fire with Fire” wasn’t going to happen, and Slayer and the Germans had them massively outgunned both in terms of both sonic violence and musical ingenuity. So in come the blues rock licks, and some jam band noodling when they want to calm things down a bit, because Uncle Ron’s jazz and classical records were so boring so they never absorbed any of it (and, thus, neither could they absorb Rainbow or Fates Warning), and their mothers didn’t let them listen to “urban” music. The mediocrity of Metallica resonated with the mediocrity of white America and made them one of the most powerful cultural forces of the end of the 20th century (at least until the rise of Nirvana, an even more quintessential white mediocrity band, in whose orbit mainstream rock trends revolve to this day).

The mediocrity extends to the performers themselves. Much has been written, of course, about Lars Ulrich’s numerous shortcomings as a drummer, but a lot of those issue arose in the ‘90s and his performance here is quite competent, if not very imaginative and peppered with gratuitous, awkward fills. It’s Kirk Hammett who is the worst performer here—a shreddy, noodly nonentity who plays pentatonic scales and blues licks fast, but not that fast, and sometimes he trips over himself, botching runs and including clams that sound horrible against the underlying chords. Sometimes he uses the wah-wah pedal to conceal a sloppy ornament or inject artificial pathos into his solos, a habit that would get worse in later albums. His solos worked, more or less, on their first two albums, both because his simplistic “ME ANGRY” shredding bursts worked with the youthful, punkish rage of the music instead of against it, and also because many of the solos were written by Dave Mustaine and he was just doing his own take on Mustaine’s originals, but his playing is woefully inadequate for an album with calm melodic interludes and eight-minute songs.

Cliff Burton’s talent is nearly as overrated as Metallica itself, Burton having ascended after his untimely death to the pantheon of bass gods having done little, if anything, to justify being put in the same company as Bootsy Collins, Stanley Clarke, Steve DiGiorgio, or even second-tier godlings like Chris Squire or Markus Grosskopf. He was a quite adequate root hammerer, but adequate was all he was at the bass’s central job of holding down the rhythmic foundation, when he wasn’t abdicating it entirely to James Hetfield’s curiously bass-like palm muting technique. His (extremely rare) solos don’t have the sort of dual function of rhythm and melody great bass solos usually have, and instead are essentially guitar solos transposed down an octave for the bass. Since he was playing licks and melodies written to sound good on an instrument of a completely different register, timbre, agility, and character from his own, these solos sound extremely forced and don’t complement any of the music around them. Contrast his playing to the subtle yet devilishly intricate combined counterpoint and rhythm David Ellefson plays on Megadeth’s Peace Sells (also from 1986) and Ellefson’s superiority is obvious. Burton did have much better lead phrasing than Hammett and knew a few classical melodic ideas but as Hetfield and Ulrich were writing the vast majority of the music and Burton was rarely even audible, very few of them were used well.

So it fell to James Hetfield, raised on bourbon-soaked hard rock, punk, and crusty old British metal albums that were ancient history by the time the recording sessions came along, to do most of the heavy lifting. His speed, stamina, and precision really were quite formidable, especially live, but he had and still has a very limited musical understanding and imagination, and his interesting melodies were mostly used up writing the first two albums. His trademark chugga-chugga jackhammer pattern that is now the most well-worn cliché in the heavy metal songwriting toolkit gets much more insistent and repetitive in this album, to the point where it gets outright annoying, especially in the directionless riff salad of “Disposable Heroes”. Hetfield, as usual, also handles the singing and it...exists; it’s a very plain, vaguely melodic shout that you’re not likely to embarrass yourself too much trying to imitate at karaoke night, lacking both the feral screeching aggression of his singing on the first two albums and the gravitas and genuine melodicism of the next two.

But, if you’re a sheltered Middle American white kid raised entirely on your parents’ rock music, it sure looks like an advance in sophistication. Metallica have eight-minute songs! There’s an instrumental! But because it’s not really that complex or harsh or dissonant, it didn’t push such kids out of their comfort zone like genuinely advanced metal bands of the era. And sure, this album did lead many of them to explore heavy metal (and other musical genres) more deeply, but just as many were happy to have Metallica as an easier-to-swallow substitute. Metallica were safe; they didn’t have any alien chromatic solos or confusing counterpoint or deliberate dissonance or truly breakneck tempos or belting high-pitched singing that could make a virulently homophobic ‘80s boy insecure about both his sexuality and his singing talents, and led to a flood of other watered-down albums that were like it but managed to be worse by being an imitation of put-on heavy metal rather than the actual put-on.

The lyrics on this album try to delve into weightier, more real-world-relevant topics with songs discussing drug addiction (“Battery” and “Master of Puppets”), the inhumane treatment of the mentally ill by society (“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”), anti-war themes (“Disposable Heroes”, which says absolutely nothing “For Whom the Bell Tolls” hadn’t said on the previous album), and the ‘80s metal standard anti-televangelist rant (“Leper Messiah”—what did leprosy sufferers ever do to deserve being compared to Creflo Dollar?) but all of them fail at adequately handling their subject matter. First of all, this is Metallica, and everything Metallica does is mixed with constant vainglorious, macho swaggering, so a song like “Master of Puppets” is perpetually confused about whether it’s about how insidious drug addiction is or how badass Metallica are—you always get the feeling that like Donald Trump, the only thing Metallica really want to talk about is themselves. “Sanitarium” is particularly dreadful—nobody in Metallica has a goddamn clue what mental illness is like, and even if they did their money would shelter them from any institutional abuses, and the whiny, petulant refrain of “just leave me alone” sounds like James Hetfield talking back to his mother after being told to clean his room instead of an assertion of his humanity in the face of authorities vested with the power to incarcerate him, drug him, and surgically mutilate his brain. From this unconvincing sullen dreariness, the song then takes a complete about-face and is suddenly an equally unconvincing anthem about how the patients are going to overpower the staff (with what weapons?) and escape, because of course Metallica would never submit to the directives of a mental institution (yes, yes they would, if their childish meltdowns in front of their overpaid kiss-ass counselor in 2004’s melodramatic “documentary” Some Kind of Monster are any indication). In light of this yawning intellectual void it’s no surprise that the least objectionable lyrics are those to “The Thing That Should Not Be” (Cthulhu is really scary, booga-booga-booga) and “Damage Inc.” (literally just Metallica bragging about themselves for five minutes), where they forego any attempt at putting on sophisticated airs and just let their troglodytic macho-man schtick run free. Turn off your brain, throw up the horns, forget that you could be listening to something better instead.

I purchased this album on vinyl from Metallica’s own new record label Blackened Recordings, supposedly an independent company owned by the band themselves, but my hopes that a self-financed and self-owned label might treat the music recording with more respect than the multi-headed corporate Hydra of Warner Music Group did, but this has got one of those awful, lazy remasters that have been standard issue with every reissue of an old recording since around 1997—intrusive punched-up kick drums and a heaping helping of dynamic range compression to bury all the fine details of the original mix in noise, because it sounds “better” on $12 gas-station earbuds. As usual with heavily compressed metal albums, it sounds worse the heavier it gets, and only in the quiet sections do you get an impression of the original mix, which was pretty good by Atlantic’s low standards, but not great, very clear and with plenty of space between the instruments, but with a weak bass and muddy, uncontrolled snare drum reverb.

“Battery” starts the record off with essentially a rehash of Ride the Lightning’s opener “Fight Fire with Fire” with new riffs, but the pace is about 50 beats per minute short of the original and the musicians’ playing is far more relaxed, and it comes off as more of an angry uptempo boogie than a raging thrasher. The dainty acoustic intro thing had been a bit of amusing irony to juxtapose against the nihilistic, apocalyptic frenzy of “Fight Fire with Fire”, but “Battery” tries it again, and this time it’s a complete waste of time. When the thrash riffs finally take over, it’s less a shock to the system than a relief that a transparent attempt to dress up this song as something it is not is over. The riffs aren’t as dark or as interesting either, and the Iron Maiden-like dual harmony guitar part from “Fight Fire with Fire” was axed and replaced with more blues scale noodling from Hammett—the guitars go meedley meedley mee and wow wow wooooow and I completely check out because I can predict his next notes before he plays them.

The first half of “Master of Puppets” has by far the best set of riffs on the album, and would have been an excellent simple midpaced thrasher if it had been kept short and concise, but the verses are padded out with riff repetition and endless bridges, and then the metal stops and they bring in really dull bluesy Grateful Dead-ish noodling—normally quieter interludes in metal are supposed to retain and transform some of the momentum from the earlier part, but this essentially functions as a giant “reset” button for the whole song, a total anticlimax, and really, I find it inexcusable—even Manowar could figure out how to do dynamic changes without deflating the tension in their longer songs, and they teetered on the ragged edge of idiotic, childish self-parody through the entire ‘80s (naturally, they fell right into the darkest, cheesiest depths once the ‘90s came around). The heavy riffs come back to close the song with a last go-around of the chorus (always with the chroruses, Metallica), but since the middle of the song was a complete disaster the recapitulation feels less like a triumphant return than yet more repetition of a song that should have been over four minutes ago.

“The Thing That Should Not Be” was initially a song I was willing to defend against metalhead charges of being a dullard groove-metal song of the type Pantera would later shit out by the dozen, and while I still think it has a bit more class than Pantera with its subtle (subtlety! In Metallica!) transformations of the main riff in various ways, the entire song is nonetheless built around just one midpaced mosh riff and derivatives, with no variation in tempo, mood, or overall rhythm at all. This is the sort of song that becomes more and more tedious the more you listen to it and realize how little content there really is, it kind of reminds me (and bear with me here, I’m going out on a limb) Borodin’s In the Steppes of Central Asia, which at first listen seems quite clever in its juxtaposition and transformation of two contrasting melodic themes, but that’s it, that’s all there is to the piece (well aside from Orientalist racism, but that’s another subject for another review…), and as you listen to it a few more times, you’ll see through its simplistic construction and trite emotional appeals and get completely sick of it. So it is with this, it is way less clever than it originally looks and is actually quite a cheap and nasty piece of music.

I’ve already taken “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” to task for its lyrics, but the music only contributes to the onslaught of absurd bathos that is almost certainly the worst song on the album. This is a typical remake of Judas Priest’s “Beyond the Realms of Death” like a thousand metal ballads before it, but even more derivative than usual because Metallica couldn’t write an “epic” melody to save themselves and just reach into their bag of recycled blues rock ideas instead. This completely ruins the form because the original song and all the derivatives that are any good work by using imaginative lead guitar playing and a powerful, convincing singer to create a contrast between the bleak, borderline self-annihilating depression of the verses and a chorus that boldly, defiantly reasserts one’s autonomy and subjectivity, culminating in a hysterical, virtuosic guitar solo, thereby dragging a listener who has the right sort of alienation to buy into it through an emotional wringer, Metallica just succeeded in writing a mawkish hard rock ballad that wallows in the pettiest of teenage resentment and doesn’t even begin to approach its supposed subject matter with the seriousness it deserves. Kirk Hammett’s solos are especially awful here, with his execrable “weeping” blue notes bent in the most generic possible way at the most generic possible times. The ballad eventually gives way to some quite respectable thrash riffs and even dual harmonized leads that sound straight off (a reject from) Ride the Lightning, but it’s far too late to redeem all the garbage that came before it, and Kirk Hammett plays two more solos, blowing his blooze load all over the music just as it was getting mildly interesting. There are at least five guitar solos in this song and they’re all terrible.

Though “Sanitarium” got my pick for the worst due to its wretchedly childish sentimental angst, “Disposable Heroes” gives it a run for its money through sheer, unrelenting boredom. The bulk of this song is built on amelodic single-chord bashing on repetitive triplet patterns, and ceaseless, tuneless Yorkshire Terrier barking from Hetfield. “BACK TO THE FRONT! BACK TO THE FRONT! BACK TO THE FRONT!” For the love of Christ, someone send him to the front so he’ll shut the fuck up already! Until he blew his voice out in the ‘90s and developed that fake redneck accent, this was the single worst performance of his entire career, and yes, I’m including his “nine-year-old’s Paul Di’Anno impression” clean singing voice from the 1982 demos in that assessment. It just goes on and on for eight nearly unbearable minutes, with the only respite being a faceless blues solo from Hammett (so, not a respite at all). “Leper Messiah” is very similar, only it bashes a bit slower and there’s a slightly more melodic B-section in the middle—I’ve heard it compared to (and sometimes accused of being a plagiarism of) Dave Mustaine, but Dave Mustaine tried harder than this.

And then comes “Orion”. The instrumental coat rack that late ‘80s Metallica’s reputation as a “progressive” band is hung on. “Orion” is Cliff Burton’s baby, and he actually puts in a very impressive performance...that you cannot fucking hear aside from a couple of gimmicky guitar-like leads. Seriously, I had to go to YouTube and listen to a fan remix with the bass cranked up, and he actually does some pretty cool stuff on here. And nobody else does. The rest of the band, the only thing you hear in Flemming Rasmussen’s original mix, all follow the path of least resistance, and Kirk Hammett vomits out two of the most flatulent, derivative, hollow, shoddy, manipulative, obvious blues-rock solos ever recorded. Everything in these solos is done the laziest and most shopworn way possible, and then, instead of orchestrating the skeleton Cliff Burton provided with his bass line in the melodic middle section, they all double him. They just mindlessly trail after Burton like kids following the Pied Piper, because counterpoint might scare the stupid people or something, and you can’t even hear Burton much in the original mix, so the whole thing comes off as a pointless noodlefest. With a second root canal of Kirk Hammett’s guitar dentistry as a segue, they bring back the best riff from the heavy part of the song and run it into the ground by repeating it constantly as it slowly fades out. They don’t even do something like Rainbow’s “Stargazer” where they layer more and more florid ornamentation over it as it fades out to keep it interesting, you just get Hetfield chugging and chugging and chugging some more until silence mercifully overtakes them.

“Damage, Inc.” is the only real full-throttle thrasher on this album, so of course it does the same sort of atmospheric bass chords as the mellow diet-prog song before it, for no reason whatsoever. Just like Battery, this intro feels completely disconnected from the actual song and a complete waste of space, and it’s compounded by being the same gimmick used to introduce two songs in a row (and then, with Burton being dead, James Hetfield imitates it on guitar for the intro to “Blackened” on the next album, so if you listen to the albums in order you get the same gimmick intro three times in a row. Even Disturbed aren’t this lazy). The song proper sounds like a timid, hesitant dry run for the harrowing “Dyers Eve” on ...And Justice for All, but the genuine hatred and bitterness that ran through that song and gave its triplet-based palm muting exercises life are absent here, both because the lyrics are Metallica waving their dicks around instead of James Hetfield confessing a real anger in his life, and they put far more effort into both the songwriting and the performances on the later song. Sure, it’s heavy, and you can bang your head all day to it, but “being pretty heavy” wasn’t good enough by 1986, not with bands like Kreator, Bathory, Sepultura, and Possessed running around. It was mediocre. Metallica were mediocre. A mediocre rock band for a mediocre rock audience, convinced that nothing outside their suburban bubble mattered at all.

(edited 1/25/2018 to correct the spelling of Markus Grosskopf's name)

Cannot Stop the Battery - 98%

psychoticnicholai, January 7th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1986, CD, Elektra Records

This album needs no introduction, it's Metallica's most famous and iconic album of their thrash days. Master of Puppets is where they started channeling more grandiosity and more catchiness into their sound. It's a bit smoother around the edges than Ride the Lightning with the first little glimmers of progginess showing up here with the songs being more ambitious, but also more digestible. It retains a lot of the viciousness of Ride the Lightning's blistering paces and menacing atmosphere while feeling like a sleeker beast with some newer tricks involved. It feels like a very natural progression in that they'd want to make things sleeker and more sonically developed after pushing their heaviness envelope on the last album. This would become Metallica's most iconic thrash album thanks to this extra dash of skill added to some of their strongest songs. There are reasons this album is so well known, and it ain't because of T-shirts.

If any song is to prime you for how the rest of an album will sound, it has to be the first one, and with "Battery" it shows you just what you're in for. An acoustic intro sets things up to rise, then the electric guitars chime in with a much more massive and aggressive sound and then launches into a fast-paced assault of riffs that is kind of like being battered by a storm of fists. It also features two solos both of which play off of the song's momentum perfectly. Songs like this form the steel skeleton upon which Master of Puppets is built. The composition of this album is more involved than what most of us expect from songs that are often seen as catchy thrash essentials even for people who aren't balls-deep into metal. While the riffs are designed to get into your head as catchy as they are, there's also skillfully placed tempo shifts, sometimes more than one intricate and razor-sharp solo in a song, dark clean guitar melodies that are mixed smoothly into the main electric riffs, and a mixture of build styles that vary from spooky and acoustic, to stomping and rousing with a great track of how to build and release momentum. All of these elements are shown skillfully on this album that blends sophisticated composition with accessibility and thrash attitude. You can tell a lot of work went into this, and it reaped some kickass musical returns.

Master of Puppets does a lot to establish a sense of dread and aggression that permeates the whole album and translates into some really solid atmosphere. The band does well at creating an aura appropriate for each of their songs whether they do cold, lonely, and claustrophobic like on "Welcome Home" with its clean guitar melodies, deranged and evil like on "Leper Messiah" with a chanting chorus and stomping riffs, or warlike and combative with "Disposable Heroes" and its barked vocals and charging guitars. The sound fits the subject matter of whatever song is playing much more closely than you'd expect and integrating that feeling in with the riffs and lyrics is something I wish were more common. The more intricate composition shines throughout and even with this fact being true, every single track has something memorable about it. Hetfield's shouts and enticing lyrics like "blood will follow blood" and other such lines draw you in and the lead riffs are varied and stand strong on their own with no failure in the slightest. Every song also has engaging intros and section transitions that keep the songs engaging while maintaining dynamics. If there we a piece that showed off this newfound skill in a pure form, it would be the almost classical sound of "Orion" courtesy of Cliff Burton and his bass melodies that harmonize well with the other guitars to create something that feels spacey, yet elegant and shows how melodically strong Metallica has become. It does fast and dark the best, but Master of Puppets also shows mood and depth while making their songs strong, anthemic, and iconic.

In my mind, Master of Puppets is where Metallica peaked and still serves as a great example of how to make not just a good thrash album, but an exceptional metal album period. It goes hard and fearsome while making their songs sleek and memorable. It's more than just a bunch of thrashing. It has dynamics, harmonics, and ambition that is realized throughout the album and this is exemplified with the fact that every song on here stamps its own mark with distinction and covers everything from fear, to isolation, to war, and derangement in a way that hits you harder than a simple rampage of riffs could. They do the riffs great too, but the feeling of being dragged under by "Master of Puppets" the song, or charging into fearsome combat with "Damage, Inc." are sound experiences that are bracing and right in every way. Those are just two of the many things that stand out about this album, the whole thing is full of them. Every moment is golden on here and the songs do this sinister album justice. It fully deserves its status as a classic and as a signature album of the thrash metal genre.

Ride The Lightening-Lite - 41%

simonitro, February 11th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1986, CD, Elektra Records

When it comes to, Master of Puppets, it’s either hailed as the greatest thing in existence, or the most overrated piece of crap ever made. I’m supporting the latter, because this is indeed, a very overrated album. This album feels and plays just like its predecessor, Ride The Lightning, but without its intensity, and it was certainly one of the turning points for the band. Dave Mustaine, of Megadeth, was infamously booted out of Metallica, and without that extra wheel, they couldn't push their music to bigger heights.

There have been plenty of reviews already and everyone who’s become a metal head, has crossed paths with this album. One of the major problems with this album is that it tries to be more epic than the previous album, but it’s not very successful. The band used cheap tricks, like overly extending the songs, just to give the impression that it’s "epic!". For instance, "Disposable Heroes", despite being one of the best songs, has three overlong choruses, which go on and on, until the song gets to the eight minute mark. This same problem goes for the title track, "Master of Puppets", with its overlong choruses, which somewhat kills the song. The melody part in the middle of the song is cute, but it's like Hetfield saying, "Hey guys, see what I can do! Yeah!" Speaking of "disposable", you could pretty much say for the song, "Leper Messiah", that it sounds pretty generic. However, you do have some adorable lyrics slapped onto it, but musically, there isn’t anything noteworthy, and I would say that it’s easily the worst song here.

Speaking of Hetfield, he sounds really soulless when it comes to his vocals, doesn’t he? "The Things That Should Not Be", is a terribly boring and plodding song, which goes on forever, even if it’s one of the shortest songs here, and Hetfield doesn’t help the songs robotic nature. He doesn’t input any emotions or add anything to make the song stand out; just keeping his monotone voice throughout. This is Metallica’s attempt at being, Black Sabbath, but it’s an amazing cure for insomnia. This continues on with, "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", which tries so hard to repeat the previous albums, "Fade To Black", but it feels so bleak and whiny from Mr. Hetfield.

This is when I had the impression that, Master of Puppets, was just a weak and cheap replica of, Ride The Lightning. It appears that they've tried to cash in on the success of the previous album, and onto this, add an instrumental, and it’s another eight track disc, with another acoustic opener. There’s nothing refreshing here, and it's understandable why this album dragged the metal scene down as a whole. You know the impression, "Perfection is the Enemy of Good"; well, what if the "perfection" is just, decent. It’s going to create a negative and hurtful ripple effect. It’s a carbon copy of the previous album that became a marketing ploy, and to say that this is the standard for which all albums should be compared. The whole scene suffered because of this, just as the likes of, UltraBoris and hells_unicorn, have stated. If mediocrity is celebrated, it could cause a terrible effect, just like what we’re hearing on today’s radio. Slayer’s, Reign In Blood, and Megadeth’s, Peace Sells, are way superior albums to this, and if those albums were called, "The greatest of all time", by the masses, then things would’ve been more successful in the metal industry as a whole. This album was definitely the turning point of the band, and for the worst, I’m afraid. They had one positive hiccup in the, …and Justice For All album, but after that, it was all artistically downhill from there on, and the band has never recovered.

While many call this album a "masterpiece", it did expose the bands limitations. Hetfield is a decent songwriter overall, with good ideas here and there, but he cannot piece them together properly, unlike Mustaine, who knew how to formulate his ideas. To Hetfield’s credit, he could come up with a few decent riffs, along with some decent lyrics. Lars has always been a crappy drummer from the start, and in all of these years, he still hasn't developed, delivering only the basics, and it has shown throughout their latter albums. Kirk's reliance on the "Wah" pedal for his so-called, creative solos, aren’t that much to take notes on. Cliff Burton was the more competent out of the four players, with some good bass lines on the instrumental, "Orion". Overall, the album is a weak version of what thrash is supposed to be, which is to say that were trying to sound melodic by placing unnecessary melodic parts between songs, like the title song, and as I mentioned, it doesn’t add up to much. Another example is the opening of, "Damage, Inc.", which has a melodic section that takes so long before the first riff comes into play. I can remember that I used to own a cassette version, which I'd switch off before the main song ever started, because I thought that it was part of "Orion".

I first heard this album around 2001, and when I was getting into metal, I thought that it was okay. For a "legendary" album to get just an "okay" from my early metal brain, that wasn’t a good sign, especially when I thought that albums like, "Rust In Peace" and "Show No Mercy", were amazing to my immature ears, and are still amazing. It took me a while to enjoy aspects of, Master of Puppets, and I thought it was a grower, but not a whole lot more. I’m harsh towards this album because this is like the so-called, "Standard bearer", and any weakness isn’t supposed to show from the biggest metal band in the world. I’ll give you this example; we all know that the WWE is the biggest company when it comes to wrestling, and let’s say that they put on an average to dreadful Wrestlemania, you’d be so livid that you would show no mercy in your opinion of it. Well, this this is how I feel about Master of Puppets.

One thing you can say for this album is that it does create controversy, and it does divide people. Whether it be that they worship it, and believe that it’s the greatest musical experience on the planet, or the most overrated piece of shit that ever existed; there is no middle ground here. I wouldn’t say it killed metal as a whole, because the music did recover in the 2000s, somehow, but it did damage it for quite a while. The reason why the '90s wasn't so kind to metal, was that a new group of bands, disguised as metal, emerged on the scene, and it was this album which opened the gates to those poor imitators, who said, "Hey!, I can create metal as well. Look at me!" In the end, many accepted this as their "master", and have since, obeyed it. It's made a large group of sheep settle for nearly anything that Metallica have crapped out over the years, and many have eaten it. It’s so annoying when you read a list that has the likes of, Beyonce, Kanye West and other rubbish on it, including the name Metallica, and this is where it all started. This was the beginnng of Metallica's artistic downfall, where they tried to disguise their creative, and technical flaws, with fancy little melodic parts, to make them appear like a revolutionary metal band, and this has fooled so many. Therefore, Metallica themselves are like the, "master of puppets", and they are certainly "pulling" many metal fans "strings", I'm afraid.

rasta of puppets? - 97%

caspian, November 11th, 2016

One thing I like about a new/impending Metallica album release is that I tend to revisit their older albums, and I'm forever getting something new from them. They're the sort of band that has been around long enough, and where you know the songs well enough that all these little things reveal themselves- all these little subtleties and nuances everywhere. I could've sworn I heard the bass on AJFA for the first time a few days ago, for example, so that's cool.

Yeah, so Puppets is a difficult album to review, like many a classic you find yourself trying to balance current context vs history. IE, "How does it sound now" vs "What did it achieve, what would it have sounded like back then?" Kinda like how Lincoln was probably a racist, but he wasn't a racist relative to other folks in 1860, or something. Or like how Hitler was a cool guy and still is!

If someone released this now, I'm pretty sure it would still be well loved. It's easy to forget just how much Master of Puppets blew us all away when we were 12 years old or so. It's not to hard to see why it did, either- it's an album that has pretty much everything and walks every middle ground perfectly. Accessible and anthemic while still maintaining an epic and progressive vibe, intelligent while still being quite working class in it's assembly and lyrical theme, fun to play on guitar.. but hard to master on guitar.

Listening back to it with a fresh mind and you quickly get reminded of just how good and well-thought out this album is, and right from the start too. Battery's intro is a real majestic thing (has anyone considered doing a battery intro/fight fire with fire main song mashup?) that then segues perfectly into a bunch of tight, often offtime thrash with I figure three huge main riffs that any metalhead, indeed any rock fan, could hum in their sleep. It's tight, it's extremely heavy and I still find myself banging to my head to that part near the end when Lars changes to a syncopated (I think?) beat. Most songs are pretty much the same; a medley of pretty cool, often pretty different ideas that form a seamless, near perfect whole. Disposable Heroes' 7/8 bridge and fantastically composed solo contrasted with the machine gun pre-chorus, Leper Messiah's cool tempo change and surprisingly neat drumming, or Orion's fun and endlessly proggy soloing.

You can imagine how monolithic it must've been when this album dropped. Nowadays, with our Sunn O)))s and our Blood Incantations there's plenty of out there, long form bands doing cool/crazy/interesting stuff. 30+ years ago? Well, you had Iron Maiden doing proggy stuff, but never in as muscular a form as anything on here. Cirith Ungol's King of The Dead was a beast, but the musical base lay in an older, far more chilled style of heavy metal. Slayer had Hell Awaits, and that was certainly a mean, atmospheric album, but with far less of the big, widescreen ambition of this album. Puppets wasn't the heaviest album of '86 by any means but it was a heavy album, and it was a far out album, and it was huge. It's the equivalent of Vektor's Terminal Redux or something becoming the biggest metal release of the year. It's an outlier that will probably not happen again.

..It's also not a perfect album. Granted, it's close, but Lightning pips it. First up, while Orion isn't a bad tune- the bass solo is pretty mean- it has none of the coherence, of the narrative flow, of the brilliance that Call of the Ktulu had in the previous album, and it's disappointing seeing a daunting, haunting, fantastically written instrumental followed up by what is essentially a decent but fairly forgettable jam. The second moment is The Thing That Should Not Be- a bit of a disaster really, whereby a somewhat mediocre main riff is ridden into the ground in a desperate quest for doomy atmosphere. It's just not suited to the somewhat washed out, reverb heavy production- arguably the one and only thing that truly dates this album.

No, it's not perfect, but most of the album is at a level of which very few bands have touched. Compositional skills that would make Beethoven envious, songwriting skills that match The Beatles (I figure that's a compliment?)- some albums are classics for valid reasons, and this is one of them. Worth it for the historical importance but also worth it because it's a damn fine album.

OBEY HIM! - 93%

BlackMetal213, September 28th, 2016

"Master of Puppets" is often considered the pinnacle of Metallica's career as a whole. I was released in 1986, along with other thrash classics such as "Reign in Blood", "Peace Sells...but Who's Buying?", "Darkness Descends", "Pleasure to Kill", "Doomsday for the Deceiver", "Eternal Devastation"...the list goes on and on, as this seemed to be the year of thrash for a lot of bands. This is Metallica's third album and, in my honest opinion, it is the weakest of the classic first four albums. But wait! A 93%? Absolutely! This album is still amazing, superb metal. It's just not quite on the level of the other albums released between 1983 and 1988. Hell, following up "Ride the Lightning" would have been a chore for any band to do!

This album seemed to build upon what "Ride the Lightning" had started. There are more clean guitar passages, acoustic guitars, and slower segments. "Battery" opens up with an acoustic Spanish guitar intro, played absolutely beautifully, before exploding into an aggressive thrash assault. This is one of the harshest songs on the album and plays a similar role, and musical idea, to "Fight Fire with Fire" from the band's previous album. The title track is up next and is arguably the most recognizable song on the album. Mixing galloping riffs, that beautiful, clean melodic middle section, and some impressive soloing, this song has become a fan favorite ever since its release 30 years ago. Most of the album, save for maybe the somewhat lacking "Leper Messiah" and the doom metal-esque "The Thing That Should Not Be", which also falls short of many of the other songs, rely on somewhat progressive song structures, which would be magnified a lot and perfected on the band's next album "...and Justice for All". It's really hard for me to choose one favorite song from this album so I often choose two as a tie: the ballad "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and the anti-war thrash masterpiece that is "Disposable Heroes". The former features some of the most beautiful clean guitar segments Metallica has ever recorded, although once the first half of the song concludes, we go back into the standard thrash sound. The latter, however, gallops and crushes throughout its 8-minute duration. There are plenty of melodic riffs during solos but they still manage to keep the aggression.

Unfortunately, due to his untimely death in that late 1986 bus accident, this would be bassist Cliff Burton's last hoorah. The bass on this album is thick and fat such was the case with the first two albums, and you can hear it well. "Orion", as many of us know, highlighted Cliff's unique style of bass playing. It's here that we can hear just what everyone means when they say Cliff truely played the bass like a regular guitar. It has that impact on the music. Alongside this beautiful instrumental, we get this album's brutal closer "Damage, Inc.". This song starts with a rather weird intro but once it explodes, you can visually picture Cliff's fingers engulfing in flames due to the song's pure speed. I never knew Cliff, as I wasn't born for 8 more years after this album, but he is one of the reasons I am aspiring to play bass, as cliché as that may sound. This album was undoubtedly a testament to his genius and influence.

It's really hard to say anything about this album that hasn't already been spoken of. I'm simply reviewing it to complete my Metallica discography series. This album exists to kick your ass, but at the same time, showcase awesome melodic, non-traditional song structures and extreme aggression. It may be the "weaker link" of the band's first four iconic albums but it is still one everyone knows, and everyone should acknowledge as important and influential. This weird album only paved the way for the brilliance of "...and Justice for All" in terms of musical compositions but production wise, it's far better. A classic thrash metal masterpiece, this album is almost always deserving of any praise it gets.


Xyrth, April 7th, 2016

Almost hit the 100th review mark and I haven't reviewed anything by 'tallica 'til now. Bad Xyrth, bad Xyrth! After all, this is the band that started it all for me and I don't want to sound overtly preachy, but when it comes to this masterpiece I just have to have my say. It has become sort of a rite of passage for any aspiring metalhead that considers him or herself serious enough to be accepted and approved by their fellows to actually dislike or even hate Metallica and shit upon their legacy. Nowadays it's like a sign that you are tough & trve enough; that you've reached maturity and no longer care for “mainstream” metal and only listen to the “real stuff”. Well, I was born in '84, so I was two years old when Master of Puppets arrived to the unprepared World, and I just can't picture a metalhead from that time saying, after listening to this album: “bah, Metallica is shit, this album is crap, it was nothing of value and it will kill metal, what a bunch of posers they are!” Nah, such phrases have been uttered more and more in recent times, mostly by fellow metalheads who were born or raised after Metallica's defining masterpiece, and during or after their fall from grace. It truly makes me sad. But… not too much, because then I blast this beast and I forget about those misplaced outcries of trve-ism.

Master of Puppets undoubtedly deserves all high accolades it receives and has received throughout its entire existence. There was nothing like this in '86; a thrash metal band pushing the boundaries of what metal was supposed to be. 6 to 8-minute songs that were artsy, complex, punishing and memorable AT THE SAME TIME? No one was doing that in mid-eighties, at least not with this level of vision and quality. Sure, there were (arguably) more complex compositions produced by the likes of Fates Warning or Watchtower, and definitely faster, darker, more brutal stuff like Slayer, Dark Angel, Kreator or Possessed, but their extreme paths came at the cost of accessibility. You don't like accessible metal you say? Well, then what are you doing listening to “War Pigs”, “Breaking the Law”, or “The Number of the Beast”? Not everything in this life is Malmsteen-esque soloing and blastbeating your brain to pulp, folks. Metallica surely changed the game, and influenced both mainstream metal and the underground with a type of thrash metal that was challenging, otherworldly but also engaging and appealing to almost everyone with a taste for heavy music.

So let's pretend for a minute that this album holds neither Historic significance nor importance. Is it good on its own musical merits? You bet your ass it is! The acoustic intro of “Battery” mimics what they did on their also stellar Ride the Lightning with its own opener, “Fight Fire with Fire”, a trait that would be in turn mimicked by a great deal of thrash metal acts in the subsequent years. “Battery” is again, a powerful, high-octane thrash number, but as it happens with most of Metallica's releases each song here has a distinct set of characteristics which grants them a personality of their own. Nothing could have prepared the World for the masterpiece that is the next song and title-track, an epic 8-minute tale of drug addiction abuse metaphorically compared to the whims of a sick deity holding sway of its adorers. The two 6-minute tunes that follow in its wake are also top-notch timeless metal classics, and favorites of mine from this once mighty band. “The Thing that Should Not Be” equates Lovecraft's creations given dreadful life via thrash metal that actually sounds quite doomy, a staple literary theme for bands that came after 'tallica, especially many that arose from the fiendish plane known as death metal, half a decade after this. “Sanitarium” is a quite proggy composition that appears to be the spiritual continuation of “Fade to Black” but gets heavier and heavier as it goes. Most tunes here deal with some sort of madness and the mechanics of control. Some are faster, some are more atmospheric, some are more straightforward while other are more ambitious compositions, but none are boring, I can assure you that.

Legends are true, my metal brothers and sisters; Lars actually was a very capable drummer once, and his syncopation on this album is plain genius, in particular in track number two. He was never the most technical or faster, but he undeniable kept things interesting and unexpected. It bugs me a bit that his double bass was not as audible as in other albums by other metal acts of the time, and that's my only complain with the production work of Master of Puppets. The rest of the Horsemen are on fire as well. Hetfield's timeless riffs are colossal, and when people say that the true force behind Metallica was Dave Mustaine I can only laugh at the notion, just like the Ray Liotta meme. Now, MegaDave is an awesome guitar player, but riff by riff, James is the man. I find Megadeth forte residing in their melodies and solos, but the rhythmic guitar playing of Hetfield is just monstrous (was, anyway), particularly crushing in “Leper Messiah”. So stop mentioning Dave, if you please. There's no need to compare, one can enjoy both bands and musicians. As for Kirk Hammett, he was quite alright before the wah-wah plague invaded his mind. He played with more feeling than technique, and I'm thankful for that. Otherwise this album might have turned out too technical for its own good and the balance would be lost. The calm moments and solos on “Master of Puppets” and “Sanitarium” are pure magic, but he shreds when he need to also, as heard on the vicious “Disposable Heroes”. As for the bass player, what was his name… Well, enough has been said about the great Cliff, so I won't say much about him, save for this: “Orion”… If your don't love that bass, you're dead inside. We still miss him, despite the awesome players that took his place.

Another iconic cover artwork for the most iconic 1986 album in metal, and there you have it: a 55 minute masterpiece that sounds as amazing today as it sounded 30 years ago when it was unleashed. Even though much has transpired since then and Metallica became one of rock's biggest acts in the World to the chagrin of many hardened metal fans, with some of the band members' actions being more than just annoying and the band as a whole rightfully accused of “selling-out”, there's just nothing than can erase what they did to the elevate the power and quality in the music we love, nothing that anybody can say or do that will undermine their gargantuan influence on the musical panorama. But 30 years ago, this four young guys in San Francisco, CAL., just wanted to metal as hard as they were able to and couldn't foresee how much impact their magnum opus would have. Accusing them of consciously shaping the metal world for worse is just as mature and real as Kerry King growing his head hair again and riding a unicorn to Orion. I'm not Manowar, so if you don't like this album we could still be friends, I just wouldn't understand it, just as I don't understand free-will inbreeding, people reading “Twilight” books or drinking light beer.

Masterpiece Of Puppets - 96%

Drummerboy25, March 8th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Blackened Recordings

Master Of Puppets is easily, one of the greatest metal albums of all time. The record forever changed the world of metal. It's influence cannot be denied. Critical acclaim from critics and musicians alike, it is an album of great esteem. Metallica was still a fledgling band at the time, but they had put out two masterpieces in a row, and Master Of Puppets continued that trend all the way until their self titled. Some of the most famous metal tracks such as "Master Of Puppets" helped Metallica cement their legacy alongside metal behemoths such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.

The record itself is musically rich and diverse. It is full of the classic Metallica nuances that fans became used to, but with added progressive and melodic elements thanks to the genius of Cliff Burton (R.I.P.), the brilliant songwriting of Lars & James, and Kirk's timeless solos on tracks such as "Disposable Heroes", a mighty thrash anthem that is one of Metallica's greatest epics. Tracks such as "Battery" "Leper Messiah" & "Damage Inc." highlight Metallica's thrash mastery, pumping out adrenaline in an artful and ingenious way. The more progressive & melodic tracks such as "Master Of Puppets" & "Orion" show a side of Metallica that had not been yet seen, and it showed the musician progression and how it had leaped bounds since their inception.

The individual musical performances cannot be underestimated, while other albums that were released during the same year boasted mighty performances of the likes of Dave Lombardo On "Reign In Blood", Metallica was no slouch in that department despite what people say. The album is full of brilliant instrumental performances. James himself wrote the some of the greatest riffs of all time in this album alone, "Master Of Puppets" is the quintessential "riff" song in my humble opinion. Kirk pumped out some of the most iconic solos of all, and even in their simplicity, they are creative and well thought out pentatonic shredders. Lars is on top of his game here, as a drummer myself, Lars was a force not be reckoned with. His songwriting capabilities were already of high quality, but his drumming in this album is the singular reason millions of drummers started playing. Whether you like his playing or not, Lars influenced almost every metal drummer in existence today. His performance itself is strong and impacting. The albums iconic double bass parts in "Battery" "Disposable Heroes" "Leper Messiah" & Damage Inc." still have fans mesmerized to this day. Last but not least, Mr. Cliff Burton. He is the primary reason the album turned out the way it did. His melodic sensibilities and knowledge of classical music helped Metallica's transcend from their primitive (yet brilliant) beginnings of Kill Em All. (Ride The Lightning is my preference, but MOP expanded upon it and improved upon it.) The bass playing itself is brilliant, Cliff keeps his trademark "lead" bass on tracks like "Orion" a masterpiece that he wrote himself, highlighting Cliff's musical prowess in a mere 8 minutes of pure musical ecstasy. Cliff was one of the first "bass virtuosos". His bass playing is powerful, driving & at times sensitive.

My sole qualm with the album exists with its production; because it is very dry and stale and makes the album a tad bit tedious to listen to, (excluding the guitar tones, because they are very good.) Besides from that minor issue, this album is a masterpiece that forever changed the very fabrics of metal music.

Brilliant Thrash? - 5%

ballcrushingmetal, February 2nd, 2016
Written based on this version: 1986, CD, Elektra Records

Highly motivated by the increasing success of their first two productions, Metallica released their third album which had a very positive worldwide reception, an impressive number of sales, and a sound that attracted the youngsters who were really hungry for thrash and violence. But unfortunately, it seems that the band started to suffer a burnout on their compositions. Even worse, it seems that the composing work was left to the wrong guy. James Hetfield undeniably is a good musician, but not exactly an innovative nor a brilliant songwriter. As a consequence, the songs started to turn into tiresome compositions rather than an engaging thrash metal stuff.

As a consequence, the band started to experiment with some weird riffs and an unnecessary slow-down in the tempos of certain songs (e.g., the title song), not to mention the ridiculous whatchamacallit ballad that is "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", and let's just leave things at that. This album seems to be the blueprint on which the songs of the next following releases were made, and unexplainably, this was the music that they played when Hetfield promised to feature the haunting old sound that brought American thrash metal into a higher level of aggression and insanity in an upcoming album.

The alleged forceful thrasher "Battery" results an interesting song that follows the structure of "Fight Fire with Fire" (i.e., an acoustic intro followed by some thunderous riffs that lead things into a fast song "a la old-days"); thereafter, the album became a bad attempt of technical/progressive thrash metal. An example is once again, the terrible title-song which repeats the same mid-paced riff during more than seven minutes! Indeed, that repetitive riff that would be featured in songs like "Holier than Thou".

And to make it more annoying, the unnecessary tempo break that takes place almost at the half of the song, seems to be the prototype for "One", and the bunch of ballads that made up the stuff from their sold-out days (that started right in 1986!) from which they cannot even give a single sign of recovery. Did all of you have notice it? Here is where the attempt of making a cover of the Diamond Head song "Am I Evil?" was turned into a boring and excessively arranged piece of crap which is far from taking back the spirit of the almost dying NWOBHM, but it rather seemed to provide the band with some ideas for their "Black Album".

Then, the Side B was filled with some excessively long-lengthy songs that sound like a terrible rip-off from their previous albums. When no one could ever think about a low-paced instrumental, they saw a perfect opportunity for including such a repetitive and a boring eight minutes long instrumental titled "Orion" which could be a little bit shorter so that it becomes as straightforward as thrash metal itself rather than a copy of "The Call of Ktulu". On the other hand, the closing song started as a very promising thrasher, but the band managed to ruin whatever that was positive about the song. It just became another cliché which apparently repeated some of the structure of "Metal Militia", but taking away any possible form of madness and outrageous fury that made the latter an essential song for the pit. Regarding the rest of the songs, it is better to avoid any comment.

While the band tried to impress the world with the silent change on their musical direction, they neglected to take care about the stuff they were making. But fortunately for the band, the production work of Rasmussen slightly disguised their worrying lack of ideas, and now the lambs were easily taken to the slaughter. That said, the band started to suffer a slow and very hidden decadence that would be realized until 1995. In the meantime, the band released many albums that started to show their need of a substitute for Dave Mustaine, since Hetfield seemed to be unable to meet the qualities of the former on guitars. This album has nothing interesting to contribute to the metal world, but just some riffs for non-metal bands like Nirvana (e.g., the intro guitars of "The Thing that Should Not Be"). It is just recommended for die-hard fans of the band.

Bar one song, this album is still brilliant - 92%

x1StapleGun, February 22nd, 2015
Written based on this version: 1989, CD, Vertigo Records

Even after hearing people saying something along the lines of "most people don't know it, but this is where it all went wrong for Metallica" I still find this album a joy to listen to. It may be due to significant exposure to the album ever since the age of 14, but that's exactly what this is to me: an album to LIVE with.

Most music today is made to be consumed in a short-ish sitting, and then after that it's merely labeled "good" or "meh" or "actually not that good", but it is a credit to Metallica that, back in 1986 (and arguably still today) they can craft masterful riffs and songs that still stand the test of time. The now legendary main riff of the title track "Master Of Puppets" is a somewhat cliche testament to this. The abundance of such riffs is also astounding. They can be found on every single song. Why? Each riff adds a part to the whole of the song it's in, giving the entire song it's own personality. Damage Inc and Battery are light-hearted thrash-arounds to mosh to, most of the rest of the roster have their own themes as well, such as Lovecraft-ian horrors, the dangers of drugs (and Tipper Gore thought that heavy metal advertised drugs, tsk tsk), and being wrongfully deemed insane. These themes create a very interesting listen, to the individual tracks AND to the entire album, and that is most of the album's significant, timeless draw. That, and the hardline fans calling this Metallica's "last truly great album."

And speaking of lyrical themes, the crafting of lyrics is just astounding on this album, almost as if the lyrics and riffs are in perfect, absolute sync with each other. For example: Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'s lyrics are quietened and despondent, totally matching the foreboding riffs crafted around the feel of the song.

So where does it all fall down? Leper Messiah. Right off of the bat, you can TELL this song was just meant to be throwaway album filler. The riffage in this song just feels flat-out uninspired, and maybe that's the sign of things to come that some crazies point to, but it just feels like it HAS to be there because Master Of Puppets is an 8-track, recording obligations and so on. Reasons? Sounds like they stole that particular idea from the notebook of David Bowie.

Also, while this is the last album to feature Cliff Burton before his death, I can't say that much about the bass work as well. Sure it's THERE, and incredibly prominent in Orion, which is a testament to his brilliance at being able to play bass and inject feeling into his solos without relying on technical mastery to carry him. Other than that, it's just not particularly prominent in the recordings, and when you can hear the bass, it's nothing remarkable.

But despite those shortcomings, Master Of Puppets still has a wealth of strengths and highpoints to help it stand tall amongst other, more revolutionary albums out there (yeah, they kinda gained their maturity on Ride The Lightning, this album expands upon it), and in a way, it was sort of the end for Metallica in the making, because now all the fans want is a Master-Of-Puppets 2.0. "What? St Anger, no! That is a dark stain on their career" and so on. Nevertheless, great album, recommend highly (except Leper Messiah).

Still a Masterpiece of the Genre-28 Years Later - 99%

rifrab3, July 31st, 2014

Every year, I decide to be a little reflective and revisit Metallica's "Master of Puppets" as a sort of nostalgic look at the origins/birth place of my love for heavy metal. Each time I go back to this record I preface the listening process by asking myself if the album will still have the same effect on me as it did when I was in third grade. And as tradition goes, I'm always reassured of the unadulterated timelessness that this masterpiece of musical craftsmanship contains. Putting aside the various different musical decisions this band has collectively made in its over thirty years of existence, "Master of Puppets" is and will forever remain a staple of brilliance in the ongoing metamorphosis of heavy music.

The opening acoustics of the album's first track, "Battery," puts the listener in the perfect mindset of a quasi-sequel to the band's previous album, "Ride the Lightning." After an estimated minute of tranquility, the track transforms into an uncompromisingly ferocious lick of fast tempos and machine-gun guitar riffs. Here, it becomes apparent that Metallica operates around similar lyrical content to their previous efforts while simultaneously shuffling around the order in which the content is presented. The line "...smashing through the boundaries, lunacy has found me, cannot stop the battery," much like Metallica's "Whiplash," is almost a sort of declaration to the band's fan base. No matter what the band goes through, or what obstacles it faces, there's nothing that can possibly stop its drive.

The albums title track is a whole different animal. "Master of Puppets" is a demented descent into madness, provided by James Hetfield's incredibly thought provoking song writing. Hetfield has never evoked a stronger sense of powerlessness and self loathing in his music. Each verse pushes the listener further and further into a never ending exhibition of hatred and suicidal contemplation. It's simply one of the finest songs ever made.

Each track on the album provides a different stepping stone dynamically. Whether a five minute thrasher or a seven and a half minute ballad, the presentation of Metallica's music here is absolutely relentless. James Hetfield leads the musical charge on this record with some of the greatest riffs to ever bless the genre. Kirk Hammett's guitar solos work to almost exacerbate the madness and despair that the band provides both musically and lyrically. While Lars Ulrich's drumming isn't technically brilliant, he does a fine job at keeping speed with the outrageously fast movement of his three band mates. The late Cliff Burton overlays it all with some dementedly heavy distortion. The real majesty of his effort here is finally displayed full force in the albums instrumental "Orion," in which Burton gives one of the finest bass performances in his short lived career.

Whether Hetfield tackles topics of self destruction, the horrors of war, or mental instability, each song never strays away too far to lose the attention of the listener. Its a disturbingly entertaining record. Each track is placed in such a strategic way as to evoke all the right emotions in the perfect order. As a nine year old, hearing this album for the first time gave me my first exploration of an entire realm of music that explores the darkest themes of the human condition. As I grow older, it only becomes more apparent of how successful Metallica were able to shed light on these psychological motifs of our existence. Each riff by Hetfield and every solo by Hammett have been ingrained into my psyche. Without trying to sound too pompous or derivative, "Master of Puppets" really is one of the greatest albums of all time. I'm certainly not the first one to say this, and I definitely won't be the last. For me, its the notion of control that still gets to me. Whether control by another human being, or an introverted and reflexive experience, Metallica's commentary on one of humanities most neurologically and sociologically troubling actions is absolutely perfect. It goes without saying that "Master of Puppets" is a must listen. A timeless record from one of music's biggest bands.

One of Metallica's finest. - 90%

Necro44, July 25th, 2014

Whether or not you believe that Metallica have completely sold out and crafted wave after wave of shitty albums in recent times (and, barring Death Magnetic, I'd probably agree with you), there should be no denying that Metallica were the force behind some of the most legendary records in metal history. While many of their 80s thrash metal peers were concerned with being as fast and aggressive as possible and cutting the musical "fat," Metallica were bent on retaining their more progressive roots stemming from the likes of Queen and Rush. Coupled with the virtuosity of the late bassist Cliff Burton's playing and slightly slower (sometimes drastically slower) tempos than your standard thrash act, this was a band who preferred longer and more complex arrangements. That's obviously not to say they weren't a full-fledged thrash band, however - songs like "Battery," "Trapped Under Ice," and almost all of Kill 'Em All certainly solidified the band's presence with the Big 4 of Thrash alongside Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. And despite Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning being 80s metal masterpieces in their own rights, Master of Puppets might just be the pinnacle of the band's work.

In many ways, Master of Puppets seems to be a refined retread of Ride the Lightning. Right down to the nature of the track placements and similar song structures, the latter seems rife with nods to the former; however, a numerous key elements ensure that both can be separated and judged on their own individual merits. First off, James Hetfield's voice is simply better and sounds more confident on this thing. His softer voice sounds more emotional and sensitive here than his singing on "Fade to Black" and his harsher offerings fit the high-intensity riffs - right from the beginning verses he spits in "Battery" to the ominous whisper that concludes the speedy closer "Damage Inc." But, as usual, the music is what it's all about - and Master of Puppets' variety is what really makes it stand out above their other records. There's no question about Ride the Lightning being the more thrash-oriented record when comparing both albums, but the slight lack of thrash in Master of Puppets actually works in its favor. The classical guitar introduction that precedes the crazy riff-fest known as "Battery" offers a wonderful buildup that flows perfectly into the song at hand by ratcheting up the intensity by increments before exploding into its speedy tempo. "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and "Orion" operate in a similar way, but much more gradually. Both could be considered the most progressive songs on the album, and weave through multiple intricate guitar arrangements before revealing their big payoffs.

However, it's more than just that. It's not just the variety in the music that impresses, but the variety in every aspect of the record. The production is varied, being brash and loud for the faster tunes while laying low and giving off an ominous atmosphere for other songs such as "Welcome Home" or "The Thing that Should Not Be." Likewise, the atmosphere and overall mood of the experience is very diverse; "Orion" feels epic and climactic, "Battery" and "Damage Inc." are destructive and harsh, "Master of Puppets" and "Disposable Heroes" feel more like cautionary tales (and, considering their subject matter, pretty much are), and so on. This feels like a thematically "complete" record; there are barely any loose ends musically, and the entire thing just feels pieced together meticulously. The only thing dragging the album down is, funny enough, the feeling that some of the compositions drag a bit. "Orion" and "The Thing that Should Not Be," while great songs, tend to be the worst offenders when considering how long it takes to trudge through to each song's peak. It's nice to hear such drastic tempo changes to switch things up, but not if it hurts the pace of the album. Regardless, it's a small blemish in an otherwise amazing overall product.

Critics may be stretching their points pretty far when considering Master of Puppets one of the best metal albums all time; hell, many have gone on to consider it THE best metal album ever made. Seeing as there's such a vast well of amazing metal music out below the popular surface that's just waiting to be heard and enjoyed, it's tough to make a case for Master of Puppets being the be-all-end-all album for the genre. With that said, one should at least respect the hell out of the record for what it's done to influence rock music as a whole, as well as for its bevy of amazing thrash compositions. It ain't perfect, but it's a real damn force to be reckoned with. If you love thrash and/or love heavy metal in general, this is essential listening.

“Metallica is Ruined Forever” - 70%

Evil_Carrot, March 14th, 2013

To be fair, Metallica was already disappointing some fans, what with a slow song on Ride the Lightning (get the hell over it), and those of you who pretend you actually heard the Metallica demos with Dave Mustaine and were blown away, then were pissed when Kill ‘em All was released because of the replacement of Dave by Kirk Hammet. Yeah, I’m sure there‘s a possibility that this happened, but to what, like five people maximum? Let’s face it, most of the people who say Metallica was better with Mustaine are just Megadeth fans. Because God knows, if two bands don’t like each other, sides must be taken. Good thing there’s no God.

Anyway, as with just about any given point in Metalllica’s career, this album led a many people to board the Metallica train and a handful switch to the Hate Train at the station. Well, first of all, I tend to dismiss those who say they hated Metallica after Mustaine left (implying they loved the demos and hated Kill ‘em All) as asshats, and secondly, the people who liked Kill ‘em All but not Ride the Lightning aren’t quite so numerous as those who fell off the Metallica bandwagon at any other point. So around the release of Master of Puppets seems to be where the whole “Metallica Sucks Now” thing starts for a lot of people.

This is the album where Metallica really began to become the band we know them as today. James’ voice deepens, we get more of that growly voice, and his screeches are going away. Lars’ drumming, while never incredible, starts to get a little lazier. There’s more wah on Kirk’s guitar and Cliff…is Cliff. A great bassist, maybe a little overrated. I had a friend who once said he was a good bassist who clearly wished he was a guitarist because he plays like a guitarist, and there’s truth to that.

The first criticism a fan of the band's past work may notice is that this album lacks the band really just letting the thrash loose. Battery and Damage Inc. are great thrashers, but they have incredibly pointless, and in the case of Damage Inc., overlong intros. I don’t know why Metallica decided to recycle the “acoustic intro, then thrash” idea that opened Ride the Lightning, but while I always felt that a sort of unassuming atmosphere which to then shock the listener with a thrash onslaught the first time, this is just sort of like telling a joke, then telling the same joke again with a slight alteration. “What’s worse than 100 dead babies in a dumpster? One dead baby in 100 dumpsters. What’s worse than 100 dead babies nailed to a tree? 1 dead baby nailed to 100 trees.” There. That’s how inane this idea was. Additionally, the title track is also ALMOST a good thrash song, but then it hits that slow middle section. Why? To sound progressive? To add emotion? I don’t know. I like this song, but I never got that part. It didn’t really fit the attitude at that moment. The “where’s the dreams that I’ve been after”-part is cool, and then it picks back up and finishes well enough, but the quiet solo...I don’t know, I never got it. It felt like a padding or filler moment and sort of kills the flow of the song for me. Disposable Heroes may be the only true thrash song on the album, and it’s a pretty damn good one, however probably not as good as the opener and closer would be if they dropped their intros.

Most of the album doesn’t really even try to thrash. Leper Messiah is more of a mid-paced song and it’s one of the ones that usually come up when people talk about least favorite tracks on the album, but it’s ok, they’re allowed to be wrong, and it’s a good song. As the song nears a little past the midway point it becomes something of a thrash assault. The Thing That Should Not Be...well, maybe it shouldn’t have been. This is a more doomy song and I believe the band at some point did say it was sort of a tribute to Black Sabbath, and I’m sure that Sabbath was highly displeased, except Ozzy, who was too fucked up to know who he was. Not that this song is offensively bad, it’s just sort of boring sometimes. But if Sabbath knew anything, it was how to keep a song interesting. I will say that the solo to the song is a very cool solo, though.

The song is based on the Cthulhu mythos, much like Call Of Ktulu on the last album, and the solo as well as some of the background guitar noise has a very interesting vibe to it that almost comes off as a soundtrack to slipping into insanity . Some of it reminds me of the noises made in the film Evil Dead when we see the first person camera demons stalking the woods, and the solo almost sounds like maniacal laughter or something in some places. However, the biggest problem is that maybe the whole song does work as a soundtrack to insanity in a negative way as well. Maybe insanity is playing the same riff over and over again and expecting to keep my attention. So I guess this is more of a ‘sometimes-song’ than an outright bad song, but I certainly have to be in the mood for it, and even so I usually go for the orchestrated S&M version.

Keeping in something of a formula that would apply to the previous and next album, the fourth track is Welcome Home (Sanitarium), which is that it’s one of the Metallica ballads, which may be its biggest problem. Its formula is very similar to One and Fade to Black and let’s face it, when you compare it to those other songs, it doesn’t hold up as well as either of them. It’s the weak link of the three. This is not necessarily a bad song, however, and at one point was one of my favorites from the album. Let’s pretend for a second that someone has never heard those songs though and say it starts off slow and melodic and becomes a thrasher near the end.

The main problem for me on the album is Orion. I don’t get it. So many people love this song and I really don’t get it. Why? Because Cliff’s bass is audible and it was one of his last compositions? The part that starts it off, the rocking part, is pretty mediocre. Honestly, I liked it better once it slowed down and got a little progressive, but hell, there are moments of that part that bring Load/Reload to mind for me, so if those are so hated, why is this so praised. Hell, it has moments that make me go “Pink Floyd?” Then it has a sort of quicker part, not really thrash, but just comparatively fast, before sort of farting out unimpressively. There is literally nothing in this song that makes me understand why so many people I know like it.

This albums reputation precedes it and it really has made and impact on the landscape of metal. It was one of my first metal albums (third?) and I still enjoy it, but it just doesn’t live up to the ‘bible of heavy metal’ that some people think it is. It’s not even the bible of Metallica. It’s a decent album that for some reason everyone latched onto. I don’t need to recommend this to anyone. If you’re interested in metal, you should have heard it, if not memorized it, but it stands mostly on ceremony. It’s not bad, but it’s not the greatest ever. It’s kind of overrated as fuck.

On the other hand, it’s still a decent album, and while it may have popularized some of the more annoying ideas of progressive metal, it didn’t kill Metallica. This is three otherwise good songs with pointless sections, two great songs, two mediocre songs, and one failure. That’s not mindblowing, but it’s really not the worst track record.

And also, Reign in Blood came out the same year and you’re all wrong, this is better than that album.

Metallica - Master of Puppets - 90%

Orbitball, February 7th, 2012

Another original thrash metal album that deserves praise from Metallica, but not as much as it's two predecessors. The atmosphere is much less dark than on their previous release entitled "Ride the Lightning". The music is still intense and quite unique. The riff structures are somewhat technical, especially if you're a guitarist like me and you look at it from that perspective. The songs are pretty basic featuring an acoustic part on "Battery", clean guitar pieces on the title track and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)". The rest of the album consists of chunky crunch tone guitars that are quite admirable. They are also innovative and intriguing, quite memorable also.

All of the tracks display an array of various different tempos. I would say that they're filled mostly heavy thrash parts accompanied by James Hetfield's yelling that rightfully suits the music. He sings in a clean fashion on "Welcome Home (Sanitarium), but for the most part he's pretty effective in orchestrating outputs which are very dark, just not as dark than on their previous album. I'd conclude that he's still angry dishing out these lyrics that are rightfully hateful and destructive. The song structures are pretty basic, but still fast and tough to keep up with them.

There is an instrumental entitled "Orion" that's quite lengthy and features a pause with just a bass lick about halfway through the song. On this recording, it's a little bit easy to hear Cliff Burton's efforts via bass guitar than on their previous release. It's not as distorted as on their debut album, but it still meshed well with music. His talent is unprecedented and it's tragic about his death in a tour bus accident. If he was still with the band, I think they would have never changed their style of music. The real reason why they changed I think was to appease their fans and sell out. The first 5 Metallica albums are good and the rest are just terrible.

Kirk Hammett's solos are still fast and furious, just not as technical as on their first few releases. However, I do believe that his efforts are very well constructed and blues guitar based like on their first two albums. He uses that wah pedal a lot, which is especially noticeable on "Disposable Heroes" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)". As a guitarist, it's tough to emulate his solos because they are quite amazing and very much tremolo picked throughout this album. Just not as technical like I mentioned. Even James Hetfield plays a lead on the title track during the clean tone guitar part.

My personal favorite tracks are "Battery", the title track and "Damage, Inc." All of the songs are good though and the band doesn't compromise. The production is decent with each track well mixed. The drums by Lars Ulrich mesh well with the guitar riffs and his efforts are quite unparalleled. Overall, he doesn't let up on putting in some great work that is in constant unison with the music. Everything in the production/mixing department went well, but you have to really crank up the volume because it's a little bit low which is the only beef that I have with the production.

Metallica put forth a strong follow up album here, though it's less dark, but still considered to be thrash metal. Each song is captivating and noteworthy. The guitars are blended well in both in rhythm and lead segments. The music is catchy and sticks in your head, especially on the chorus parts. Every band member contributed a great deal to the metal community and it deserves praise like it's predecessors. If you don't own it and you're a thrash metal lover, YouTube the songs that I mentioned and hear for yourself what the songs sound like. Own it now!

The weaker masterpiece of two thrash twins - 91%

kluseba, October 10th, 2011

Metallica's legendary "Master Of Puppets" is without the glimpse of a doubt a record any true metal maniac should sooner or later have in his or her collection. Without questioning the great status of this record, I must though admit that the record has always been a little bit flawed by the fact that it is a weaker copy of the groundbreaking previous "Ride The Lightning" album. Still, the quality of this copy has a standard of the grandest kind but this is the reason why this record is only very good but not excellent to me.

The song structures, the way the track list is composed and even some topics are comparable on both records and each one has some advantages and disadvantages. As both albums are very similar, I think that a direct comparison makes a good sense for this special and exceptional occasion.

Let's start with the positive facts first. The title track "Master Of Puppets" is better than the great thrash metal anthem "Ride The Lightning" because of its more progressive structure, its well developed details and its epic length. Still, both tracks are close to perfection in their unique ways and essential moments of thrash metal. The great and often underrated epic thrash monster with interesting lyrics called "Disposable Heroes" easily beats its direct concurrent from the "Ride Of Lightning" record which is "Trapped Under Ice". A third definite highlight of "Master Of Puppets" is the very diversified and addicting instrumental track "Orion" that never bores for a second and surpasses the very solid but not outstanding "The Call Of Ktulu" from Metallica's second strike.

On the other side, I think that the mad thrashing head bang monster "Battery" lacks of some kind of fond atmosphere which "Fight Fire With Fire" had on the previous record. It's the same thing as one compares the great "The Thing That Should Not Be" with the even greater and more atmospheric doom thrasher "For Whom The Bell Tolls". It's a very tough decision to choose between the hypnotizing and slightly psychedelic "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and the beautiful half ballad with acoustic parts which was "Fade To Black" but the latter one has the certain plus of magic and experimental courage for that time which the other doesn't have. Another tough decision is the duel between "Leeper Messiah" and the underrated and often criticized "Escape" that sounds maybe too commercial and chorus orientated for some thrash metal hardliners. It's not because of pure opposition that I would go for the latter one but because I think that the song is simply different, more unique and more addicting. Finally, I think that "Damage, Inc.", a solid but not outstanding track overall, is beaten by one of Metallica's classics to me which is "Creeping Death".

In the end, "Ride The Lightning" wins my direct comparison with five to three points after all but it's really a close ride and both albums are exceptional. On the other side, for the first and only time, Metallica didn't try out something new between two albums and stagnated on a very high level after all. That's why I think that "Ride The Lightning" should inherit the status of a cult classic in a fair world and not the slightly overrated "Master Of Puppets". Nevertheless, both albums are milestones I don't want to miss that rotate quite often in my sound system when I need a good dose of some classic but already quite complex, elaborated and maybe even progressive thrash metal. Let's also add that the authentic production and the great vintage cover artworks are the best Metallica have ever done to date and add a little supplementary bonus to the powerful spirit of the music.

On the seventh day God created.... - 96%

screamingfordefender, April 18th, 2011

Every so often, you hear praises being showered endlessly upon "Master of Puppets". The year was 1986, Metallica's stepping stone to international superstardom was very well received by the critics, who to this very day still regard this album as the greatest hour in the history of Heavy Metal. That is however, just one side of the spectrum, on the other side are metalheads who loathe the very existence of this album and the band responsible for this 'abomination'.

Let me make an attempt to draw the line here and give a fair judgment. This album isn't perfect, nothing from this era is. The best bands from this era never quite reached the level of perfection achieved by bands such as Black Sabbath or Judas Priest. As in the case of most thrash metal albums, there is a heavy emphasis on skill and athleticism being shown and sometimes they tend to overdo it and lose the 'feel' for the music, which the great rock bands from the 60's and 70's had. Metallica and a few other band tried to keep the 'feel' alive rather than focusing on playing excessively fast or overly technical music.

Metallica aren't a bad influence on Heavy Metal but they became a victim of their own fame. A lot of groove metal and metalcore bands adopted the sound of Metallica and Slayer and bastardized it with their lack of ideas and pressure of adhering to simple minded, mainstream music fans.

A common complaint is repetition, Let me tell you this is no more repetitive than any other great album. The quality of the songwriting is such that they successfully manage to strike the right balance between the long choruses and the limited riff-set. Apart from a few lapses on tracks such as "Disposable Heroes" and "The thing that should not be", both of which tend to drag on for just a little too long, The song lengths themselves are fine and have more than enough variety in them to make them memorable. The title track "Master of Puppets" is perhaps the best example of this, the song has a wonderful, lengthy melodic instrumental section which brings everything to a standstill, almost. The melodies themselves are complex and very 'spacey', specially Hetfield's solo work, which are found less often but tends to overshadow Hammett's contributions in terms of quality. Not to mention the main riff of "Master of Puppets" is one of the greatest riffs ever written.

The album's mainstay is Hetfield's intense rhythm guitar playing which forms the foundation on which the band explore all their ideas. "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" is perhaps Metallica's best ballad. Continuing in the footsteps of "Fade to Black", the band explores very depressing themes in the lyrics, this time, a feeling of being powerless and trapped in an asylum and in the end breaking out of it.

Got some death to do
Mirror stares back hard
Kill, it's such a friendly word
Seems the only way
For reaching out again

The lyrics aren't subtle, not pretty but they're effective. The song starts off with a minimal riff followed by some classy intro solos by Kirk Hammett which paints a bleak, sad outlook from the beginning. The vocals get harsher and the riffs become heavier with heavy use of downpicking as the song progresses. Overall, It's not as heavy as "Fade to Black" or "One" with a lot more hard rock influences than being straight forward thrash. Perhaps, It's songs like these which deal with personal struggles that gave rise to grunge and other assorted genres later.

"The thing that should not be" was a new approach to the band. In all it's downtuned fury, the main riff is abused a few too many times for it's own good and the song's novelty starts dying pretty fast. The lyrics do save it though. The Chtulhu mythos make for interesting listening, The chorus itself is undeniably catchy.

"Disposable Heroes" drags on for too long, just a tad too long. The album's second 8 minute epic of this album delivers but falls short of being the principle winner in the lot. The band's first attempt at exploring war-themed topics is a hit-and-miss citing the lyrics, which are often found to be too predictable. The instrumental work itself is quite brilliant, however. Possibly the most complex song off this album. The song maintains a high tempo after it's relatively slow introduction with Hetfield and Hammett both working in tandem, showing off their brilliant chemistry with some very aggressive, fast tempo-ed riffs and lightning fast solos.

"Leper Messiah" is an often overlooked song, It's a good indication of where the band wanted to go in the near future. It's a heavier, slower song with heavy emphasis on chorus and the lyrics. Certainly one of Metallica's most underrated efforts.

"Battery" and "Damage, Inc" are two visceral, face-shredding thashers, The likes of both are considered thrash metal classics. 'Battery' starts off with a simple, Spanish flavored guitar intro but don't be fooled as it breaks into a minimalistic, in-your-face main riff that is hard to resist. "Battery" also has one of the most massive thrash breaks in the history of metal, occurring twice, guaranteed to make a mosh pit go insane. "Damage, Inc" simply exists to smash your face in. The sheer aggression and attitude will flatten anything in it's way like a freight-train. The two songs deliver the perfect one-two knockout punch. One at the beginning and the other at the end.

That leaves one behind, "Orion". Metallica's second instrumental is simply amazing. It's a song for the Metallica fans to remember Cliff Burton by. It takes exceptional songwriters with vision, intelligence, grace and taste to compose something like this. The song is best remembered for it's timeless and beautiful solo work by Burton first and then Hetfield. Metallica had a knack of creating melodies that was far beyond their peers. It's works like these that really set them apart.

Make of it what you will but to this day, more than a decade after hearing this album the first time, "Master of Puppets" still stands tall and towers above most albums. Very few albums can stand the test of time like this album does. People have a very biased opinion on Metallica but let's forget all that. This was before the St. Anger abomination and well before they sued Napster or headlined lollapalooza and toured with Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. This was Metallica, the young band who were hungry and produced a truly remarkable, timeless album for generations to come.

Metallica's Shining Moment - 100%

corviderrant, July 17th, 2009

Call me nostalgic all you want, but I will never forget this album. It was the effort that catapulted Metallica into the public consciousness as the new torch bearers of metal, their crowning glory in their storied career, their massive raised middle finger to the establishment who called them "noise"...their triumph. Ozzy Osbourne knew this and took them out on tour with him to give them the shot they deserved, and they fired a hell of a bazooka shell into the world's ears with this album.

Where "RTL" began with more epic and dynamic song structures, "MOP" takes that new approach and runs with it like a prize quarterback. The thrashing madness is still very much there, as evidenced by bruising opener "Battery", the face-ripping "Disposable Heroes", and closer "Damage, Inc." (one of my favorite song titles), but the more melodic and moody side they showed on "RTL" raises its head in a more refined and honed manner as well. "Orion" is the apex of this approach, with its classical feel and dreamy middle part with solos from James, Kirk, and Cliff--as I stated in my review of "RTL", I strongly feel that Metallica died when he did and have failed to admit it or acknowledge it since then.

"The Thing That Should Not Be" brings the downtuned creepy-crawl with massive damage being caused in its wake--and how can you not like a song about H.P Lovecraft's Elder God Cthulhu? Metallica were so much more than simply a thrash band, they were a metal phenomenon in their prime, and their willingness to do more than thrash away at 100mph made this apparent. "Leper Messiah" is a another slower number, but brings plenty of crunch and aggression to the table to show Metallica had far from gone soft, accompanied by scathing lyrics denouncing televangelists--James had discovered CNN by this time and his lyrics were becoming deeper and more intelligent. Far from Shakespeare, but compared the lyrics on "Kill 'Em All", they were a quantum leap ahead for him.

"Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" was the anthem of practically every "hip" teenager in my high school, but only those of us true fans really understood its sentiments, as headbangers united against a world that mocked us, looked down upon us, and inspired us to snarl in defiance at their degrading us so. It may be the most mellow song on this album, but it still has an angry edge to it long before the tempo picks up and the riffs kick in. Metallica had a way of making songs like this work in that they incorporated that edge into even their softest moments, the building tension that would lead to explosive release, and they made it work in wonderfully brutal fashion.

Flemming Rasmussen's production was even better this time around as well, bringing a much cleaner, more spacious sound to the proceedings. You could still hear Cliff pretty well and the guitars roared with a new clarity, as well as the drums sounding bigger and more damaging. The bass had its own niche in the mix as well, and Cliff's Godzilla low end rumble was reproduced in more detail on this album. Still not quite done justice, but it was there.

In short, this was Metallica's "one shining moment" to quote "Camelot", where they were poised to utterly destroy all in their path and they could've done it. But with Cliff Burton's untimely death, it all fell apart after this, and it's possibly metal's greatest tragedy. I remember a guy saying he was going to build a shrine in his bedroom to metal's greatest unsung bass hero when we received the news in my high school. What might have been..."Master of Puppets" is still the greatest moment in 80s metal, for me and always will be.

The Classic That Should Not Be - 100%

Crank_It_Up_To_666, August 15th, 2008

If we’re all totally honest, on a purely musical level ‘Master Of Puppets’ is a decidedly unremarkable and unexceptional piece of work.
Many a band before and since have surpassed it on all manner of counts. They’ve surpassed it in the technicality, speed and force of the riffs, and achieved far superior production values and sound quality. They’ve learnt the benefit of being concise and brief rather than long-winded, developed similar lyrical themes in a more mature fashion, and of course, outdone the record for drumming proficiency – which, if we are again frank, is not that much of an accomplishment by any standards.
On such a level, Metallica’s third record has no business being treated as the landmark it is so often celebrated as. So why IS it celebrated as such?

Well, perhaps it is because ‘Master Of Puppets’ offers what so few records in the wide world of music can offer. To wit; absolute transcendence.

In the most concrete terms, Metallica achieved with ‘Master Of Puppets’ an expansion upon the sound showcased on ‘Ride The Lightning’, a sound rather clumsily overstretched with ‘...And Justice For All.’ Each song averages between 5 and 8 minutes, with the band’s patented buzz-saw thrashing takes on a significantly more expansive turn, with a hundred times more thought given to song-writing and its effect rather than relentless speed.
To say that it is a far more emotionally charging record is to undersell it – the work here is anthemic to an astounding degree, and this feat is made all the more impressive by the fact that for all the brazen, soaring and wonderfully handled melodicism, the band’s more violent tendencies are never lost amongst the slew of newer ideas.
The epic song structures meld with gritty thrashing aggression fantastically cohesively, with the band bashing the living hell out of their instruments to capture a sound that is stunningly forthright as well as considered and introspective. The level of musical balance exhibited here between these two aspects is the band’s true triumph – they valiantly negotiate between the pitfall of simply putting their heads down and thrashing out for the hell of it, and the pitfall of flogging their more high-minded ideas to death.

For those who care for albums that simply provide a rocking good time, ‘Master Of Puppets’ hardly disappoints on that front either. The likes of ‘Damage Inc.’ and the infamous title track bulldoze their way through the dry, Flemming Rasmussen-supplied production in a barrage of shredding, maniacal riffs, whilst ‘Leper Messiah’ brings things down a stomping march.
The oft-derided ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’ displays a phenomenal grasp of dynamics by segueing seamlessly from a raw and pensive ‘power ballad’ into a furious thrasher of a track – though it ‘Disposable Heroes’ that amazes the most, being undoubtedly the single most aggressive and downright vicious track Metallica may have ever put their name to, not to mention their most savagely coherent attack upon the supposed expendability of fallen war heroes.

In their own way, Metallica seemed to have unlocked a sublime combination of many of the elements that make heavy metal such an extraordinary and enduring genre, and this lent the music herein an unforgettably potent quality, elevating it above and beyond the status of ‘excellent’ to sheer bloody mind-blowing. Few albums have achieved this classic status – Black Sabbath’s eponymous debut, Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’, Iron Maiden’s ‘Number Of The Beast’, Judas Priest’s ‘Painkiller’ amongst them – and as such, ‘Master Of Puppets’ is in good company.

Listening to this album for the first time, and every single time after that, feels like partaking in some kind of communal occasion of the most emotionally gratifying and uplifting sort. It is a sound where, for once, all the minutiae flaws attached to its creators are pushed entirely out of the consciousness and a special kind of magic takes hold over the listener.
And for that remarkable achievement, ‘Master Of Puppets’ is fully deserving of its iconic status as a TRUE METAL CLASSIC.

And now for something completely different - 30%

Wra1th1s, August 12th, 2008

"What's this? Oh, it's just another MoP review. Giving it a low score no less. My my, do people still have time to write this? Surely they have better things to do than criticize an album with 21 reviews (at time of starting)!" You might say. I seriously can't blame you if you don't want to read this, I'm sure you can read UltraBoris's review again or maybe Napero's. After all why care about another review? Those two reviews sum the album up pretty nicely don't you think?

Truth is, I'm not even sure why I'm doing this. Maybe it's that last review (NecroFile’s was the last one when I started this,) that got me knickers in a twist. Maybe it's just time for me to say what I have to say about Master of Puppets. Maybe I'm bored and I'm writing this at 10 o'clock just for the hell of it. Point is, I don't really care why I'm writing this and neither should you. All that matters is that I'm giving an honest opinion on this album and it's your prerogative to read it, or not as the case may be.

When people first got into metal, or are trying to get into metal, they will always hear of Metallica. Be it from friends, the media, or family (in some rare cases,) people will most certainly recommend you this band and will most likely recommend this as essential listening or the only album everyone should own from them.

Now let me tell you my story for a moment. I am fairly new to metal; I have only been a fan for about two years as per the date of this review. I used to believe that the mainstream metal media was absolute gospel for the first two months of my tenure as a metalhead and I used to immerse myself in whatever the media recommended me. A key turning point in my life was when I bought an issue of Guitar World. That issue had the "Top 100 Guitar Albums," which was very intriguing to a young guitarist such as myself. While reading that issue, I read about Master of Puppets and ...And Justice For All. I read them very carefully to decide which would be my major gateway to true metaldom (I had, by that point, bought Cowboys from Hell by Pantera but that didn't make me a true fan.) So after poring over the entries again and again, I decided to just go to the record store and listen to the albums to hear which one was better. Once there, I asked the guy to put on ...And Justice For All and I was blown away. I then asked him to put on this album, mere seconds into the album I was turned off by the acoustic intro. I basically said that "This is not what I expected from a band like Metallica! I mean where's the metal?" and got ...And Justice For All.

There you have it, a young metalhead who decided to not listen to all the hype and just tried to listen to those albums objectively. If it was the greatest metal album of all time, surely I would be worshiping it, wouldn't I? If it was the be-all, end-all of thrash (as some misguidedly claim it to be,) would I not buy it? So what made me so repulsed by it, that I had put off buying for about a year? Sure, this album is not horrible in the most absolute sense of the word but neither is it the culmination of about 16 years (counting from Black Sabbath's debut, of course,) of metal progression. This album is, at best, average and at worst is horrible. For one, this album is merely a much worse retread of Ride the Lightning; lacking the riffs and a rather worse production.

I'll try and breakdown this album.

Let's take a look at the most obvious element: the songs. For a thrash album, Master of Puppets has a disturbing lack of thrash. From the eight songs present, I can only consider three of them to be thrash (and if I'm being really picky, only two and a half.) Let me say that again: only three out of eight songs are what I consider to be thrash. That's awful for an album that is often considered to be the greatest thrash album. Those three songs are the opener "Battery," the title track and the closer "Damage Inc." Of those three, two of them are dangerously flawed: the title is overly long and contains a useless melodic interlude; and "Damage Inc." has a pointlessly long intro in what would otherwise be a great song.

Let's start with the good. "Battery" is an effective opener and it's a great thrasher. When I first listened to it I was turned off by the acoustic intro, in retrospect I should have listened longer and then I would buy this album and write a completely different review. Regardless, the acoustic intro ended up as a perfect build to one of the albums best songs. "Battery" has all the elements of a great thrasher. It has the riffs and the solos. The riffs in this song are somewhat catchy, but they still have the thrash bite to them that make them headbangable. In particular, I like the riff after the second solo. That one was pretty much the climax of the entire song; I'm disappointed that Metallica did not make more riffs like that one. The solos are also quite good. Let's face it; Kirk Hammet is not what many people claim him to be. He is not a guitar god or even an adequate replacement for Mustaine. But in this song he actually manages to outdo himself in the soloing department. Sure, he can only solo using the pentatonic scale and related scales and modes but his playing is actually rather good.

"Master of Puppets" has the potential to be a great song, instead Metallica chose to drag it on way too long and add a pointless melodic interlude. The good parts of this song make it tolerable, though, so it's worth a listen. The opening riff is probably the most recognizable riff in metal, for better or worse. It's not bad but I don't see what's so great about it. It doesn't make me bang my head as forcefully as the verse riff of "Fight Fire with Fire" or the riffs of the other two good songs on this album it lacks a certain 'power' to it that Metallica had used previously. After a few times the problem immediately comes to the fore, it's too long. They repeated the opening riff too many times and then followed it with a less than capable verse riff. Why is it less than capable? One, it seems rather forced and Two, is not as fast as the previous riffs. The chorus riff is quite nice but then the song completely loses coherency after the second chorus. Now I don't know what happened in the recording studio or in the writing process, but somehow Metallica decided that it was a good thing to just stop the thrashiness altogether and then play some melodic thing. Melody is not the problem, there are many thrash bands that are melodic like Anthrax or Flotsam and Jetsam. It's the fact that they just stop being thrashy in order to be melodic. Then comes that irritating solo where Hetfield shows his stuff by playing something my neophyte guitarist cousin could play with little effort. After that comes the crowdchant-worthy "MASTER! MASTER!" part. It gets kind of grating after the first few listens, you can't imagine how annoying it is when your friends put this part on repeat (well, maybe you can.) I'm pretty sure I have some sort of facial tic whenever I hear this part. Well, it's not THAT bad but sure as hell tries to be. The riff under it is completely forgettable but the following solo is quite good and then they follow it with another verse and chorus. After that last chorus Metallica again made the song drag on too long by extending the already half-assed riff to something even less effective. Now I have no problem with long thrashers, Heathen, Flotsam and Jetsam, and Dark Angel (specifically TDNH) are all regulars on my playlist. But long thrashers are not long simply on a whim, they must have a logical reason why they are long. “Master of Puppets” does not have enough variety or have compelling enough riffs to make it interesting enough for me. Honestly, the song would be better off without the melodic interlude, the long intro and that outro.

The last good song is incidentally the last song on the album. “Damage Inc.” may just be the best song on this album. The riffs in this one are some of the finest pre …And Justice For All Metallica riffs. Listen to the pre-verse riff; that one is just vicious, it almost makes it worthwhile waiting for that damned intro to finish, almost but not nearly enough. Thankfully the following riff (and the rest of the song,) is just…well pure, unadulterated thrash riffage. The bridge riff is even more thrash than the last, if I were to pick one moment that the album can actually stake a claim at being the best thrash album ever, it would be this riff. However one riff alone does not make for a fantastic thrash album, it requires consistently great riff after riff and as I have outlined before, there are only few great riffs in this album. The solo in this song may just be Kirk’s most inspired, if his solos were this good all the time, then he might just be the guitar god everyone thinks he is. I mean seriously, listen to it again. The technique may not be as flashy as Lee Altus or Mustaine, but this kid’s got heart when he plays this solo and it really is disappointing that he could only shine at two instances in this album. By the end of the song you just feel that something’s lacking. It could have been a so much better song but Metallica refused to let it be amazing. In order to experience the full potential of this song, I urge you to check Dream Theater’s version with Barney of Napalm Death. Go on, I’m still going to be here. You’re back? Good. What you just saw was what “Damage Inc.” should have been. The drums were made better with Portnoy’s double bass, the riffs were given an extra layer of badass and the solo was definitely improved by Petrucci’s mastery of his instrument, not to mention Barney’s vox which are much, much, much better than Hetfield’s monotone delivery. In the end, the version on this album is not bad, great even.

So what does this mean for the bad songs then? They all suffer from being plodding, boring and general lack of focus. The most obvious criticism I can give Metallica is the fact that this album has slow parts for the sake of having slow parts. Metallica does not write the slow and/or melodic parts to be an extension of what has been written before, the slow parts just come. No reason, no explanation, they just suddenly take over the thrash.

Let’s take a look at “The Thing That Should Not Be,” an apparent tribute to bassist Cliff Burton’s Lovecraftian fandom. The listener will notice that this song is slow and it’s not as in ‘slow thrash’ where the music goes along at least at 100 bpm. No, the slow I’m talking about is ‘Sabbath slow.’ Now I don’t know where they get the idea but ‘Sabbath slow’ is not the direction that thrash went, had gone, or should go. I find the whole idea to be appalling and contradict with the very essence of thrash. Thrash, as a genre, will bring to mind such phrases as “fast,” “breakneck pace,” “speed,” etc. When I think of thrash I certainly don’t think of “The Thing That Should Not Be.” The riffs by itself are alright but again, not thrash. No wonder thrash slipped into a coma in the mid-90s, people got the idea that it’s perfectly fine to go along at half-speed and still be called thrash. “Hey, Metallica’s ’86 album was filled with slow songs and that’s called thrash! Why don’t we do the same thing?” I’m sure many proto-groove bands were thinking along these lines. Now let’s go back to the song again. To be quite honest I felt that this song could’ve been better if it only went half as long, a third even. I guess it’s just plodding and Kirk’s little Egyptian solo was barely interesting enough to keep me awake. Also, the lyrics in this song show only a shallow understanding of the Lovecraftian mythos. I don’t usually rag on lyrics too much because most of the time metal lyrics are awful. This one needs pointing out because Burton said that he was a big fan of Lovecraft yet the lyrics look like something that even non-readers of Lovecraft would know. I suppose a whole song filled with themes, creatures and the occult paraphernalia of the mythos wouldn’t go well with the band’s image, but this makes me wonder why they even wrote the song in the first place.

“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” follows suit and it just gets worse. They try to make this one ballad-y and all that claptrap. Honestly I don’t remember that much about this song, I’m certain that I had a less-than-pleased face when I was listening to it though. The softer parts are half-decent (Judas Priest would later rip it off as “Cathedral Spires,”) but I just think that guitars are underused and drums just meander in the background while Cliffy does nothing. Hetfield’s gruff/croaks are grating at best, he should be anywhere near a ballad let alone write one. The overall impression I get from the riffs, drums, vox and the odd solo there is just blah. Not necessarily the worst thing on the album, but not at all thrash metal. Thumbs down.

“Disposable Heroes” suffers from toofuckinglong-itis, the main riff is alright but Heathen does it way better. The chorus gets special mention fro being annoying as hell. “You will do!/What I say!/ When I tell you to go/ BACK TO THE FRONT!” Why it goes on for 8 (EIGHT!!) excruciating minutes is beyond me. Nothing notable goes on; the solo didn’t do much for me either. NEXT!!

“Leper Messiah” well well, this is semi-passable. Could’ve been a highlight but they had to do the awful and rather plodding intro and outro. The best part of the song is the middle and the okay-ish solo from Kirk. The main riff is rather dull, the vox is okay and drums are sub-standard, business as usual for Metallica.

And now we have come to the most agonizing part of the album. It is the so-called ‘visionary instrumental’ “Orion.” Why Lord? WHY!? This is just about the worst thing they did because it DIRECTLY led to their future aural excrement. St. Anger was nothing compared to this! Sure the song lengths are about the same and “Orion” has slightly better production (very slightly,) but Drop C tuning is a blessing compared to this arrant nonsense. “Why is ‘Orion’ worse?” You ask? For one, it is nothing but a collection of malformed riffs that don’t even fit together very well. Second, the solos don’t fit the context at all, especially Cliff’s little exercise in ego-feeding. Third, there should be no logical reason why this track (I refuse to call this a song,) drags on for so long. No reason at all. Hell it even fades out at the end! The intro is remarkably overlong, they were confused about what ‘epic’ entails and song length is not a criteria. Towards the end it slightly picks up from the mediocrity but Christ on the Cross!

Onwards to the second part of the review, the production. While it is pretty standard thrash production, Cliffy gets seriously neutered here. I rarely hear the bass and I’m listening to this on a CD player with Sennheiser headphones! The drums lack power for the most part, even AJFA with its notoriously clicky bass drums have more power than this! The guitar tone is pretty consistent with Metallica’s past efforts and I enjoyed “No Life ‘Til Leather” and “Ride the Lightning.” The vocals are mixed fairly silently but I suppose it’s just because Metallica didn’t eve bother to re-master this thing after twenty years. I actually think the production is better than certain songs on this album.

The last part of my review is in defense of it. Yes I am willing to defend MoP, not as a fantastic album or even a thrash album, rather for being a metal album. At the end of the day, this album can still be called an average metal album with occasional thrash elements. This just has too much fluff to be thrash, too mellow and too artificially lengthened. If I looked at it as a heavy metal album only then this would have gotten a higher score (60-65%,) but I chose to look at it as a thrash album because that’s what many people claim it to be thus, the low score. Point is, I don’t think that this is the worst album of all time; I still listen to the worthwhile tracks every few months and while the horrible parts are horrible, they are only overwhelmingly so when you look at it as a thrash album.

Well, that’s all I have to say. If you’ll excuse me I’ll go and look for my copy of …And Justice For All and listen to the only album Metallica has worthy of 90 or higher.

What every album wants to be when it grows up - 99%

NecroFile, June 2nd, 2008

What does one call this album except "legendary"? Released in 1986, Master of Puppets was a underground smash hit, being certified gold within a few months with almost no radio/TV exposure. It is responsible for countless kids getting into thrash, and I don't think there's a metalhead reading this who doesn't own this album (or at least, has heard one or two of the songs from it). From Dream Theater to Trivium to Evile to Machine Head, everyone and their brother today is ripping off Master of Puppets, and you'd better believe there's a reason for that.

The album continues the prog-thrash found in Metallica's previous album (anyone who bashes MOP while praising RTL is retarded. Stylistically there's no damned difference between the two albums, except MOP has longer songs) but with one major improvement, the production is good. Kill and Ride are great albums, but they do sound very muddy and 80sish. Here, Ulrich' snare sounds crystal clear, and Hammett's guitar packs a delicious punch. The scary thing is, even though it came out in 1986 this still the second or third best produced Metallica album, when you consider the twin botches of And Justice for All and St Anger.

Each song on Master of Puppets is an epic. One of my grips with Ride was you had these wacky half-formed songs like "Escape" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" that didn't fit in with the rest of the album, but there's none of that problem here. From beginning to end, Master of Puppets like 100% of an album. There's nothing you could add or take away without upsetting the balance. From the savage lockstep thrash of "Leper Messiah", to the cruisy basslines of "Orion", everything feels complete.

There are endless catchy riffs (Hetfield cranks them out like an industrial hotdog shooter), and some amazingly complex song structures. Indeed, as you can see on the longer songs, the album was not only an influence on thrash, but on progressive metal, too. Cliff Burton's bass playing is quite groundbreaking. At times he uses his bass like a keyboard or synth to provide instrumental backing (see "Orion" and "Damage Inc") and at other times he cranks the distortion way up and plays actual guitar riffs (again, see "Orion"). He was a truly amazing musician, and it was a great loss to the band when he was tragically killed while touring this album.

There are a few minor nits and nats I will address shortly (most of which plagued the band from the beginning), but by and large Master of Puppets is one of the most satisfying, value-packed albums I've ever heard. There's lengthy, complex epics, fast thrashers that blow anything on Kill and Ride out of the water (just about every song here has a speed metal section, including the ballad!), and the greatest instrumental of the band's career.

The album drops the hammer on you with "Battery", a hybrid power/thrash song that starts off with a clean guitar intro before cutting into a fast 192bpm thrash assault. The song's riffing is minimalistic and perfectly showcases Hammett's "venting" style of playing. A criticism raised by several reviewers is that the intro is out of place. I can see where they are coming from, but can't agree. The song is essentially a power metal song in thrash clothing, and it in no way dilutes the power of the song to have a clean intro. Many thrash bands (Meliah Rage, Metal Church, Dark Angel, and Anthrax, to name a few) have introduced similar ideas to their songs. All in all, "Battery" is classic speed metal and the greatest opening to a Metallica album ever...and yet it is only an appetiser to the Master of Puppet's main course.

Words like "amazing" and "genius" do not even begin to describe track number 2. "Master of Puppets" is a heavy metal classic to rival Sabbath's "Paranoid", and for me the greatest recording of the band's career. There is not one, not two, but THREE classic riffs in the intro alone (as well as some insanely fast rhythm downpicking), before a highly memorable verse/chorus section, and a melodic dual solo between Hammett and Hetfield. Then there is a crunchy riff-driven build-up which segues into second, harder solo by Hammett, and a final verse and chorus. It's amazing how many emotions and themes can be communicated in 8.5 minutes and a dozen riffs...Loneliness, rage, frustration, helplessness. Everything about this song is amazing. If I could re-write it, I would not change a thing.

The rest of the album can't help but fall short of "Master of Puppets", but there's still lots of great stuff here, as well as some more experimental metal that fucks with your preconceptions. The song that usually gets kicked around the most by the album's critics is "The Thing that Should not Be," and if I may I will offer some words in the song's defense. It's a song about atmosphere, not catchy riffs and singalong choruses. And it succeeds damn well, with slow, crushing riffage and a chaotic, Kerry King-style solo that utterly rips you to shreds. Hetfield's vocals are downright evil on this song. It is also one of the few Metallica songs to employ audio samples (notice the eerie screaming in the song's bridge), turning it into something of a mood piece. It's far from being the best song on the album, but I think I can see where the band was going with it.

Track 4 is a ballad, and although I'm not wild about Metallica's ballads, "Sanitarium" is far better than "Fade to Black." For one thing, it is more aggressive and hard. For another, Hetfield sings in a somewhat masculine voice, rather than sounding like he has an estrogen IV stuck in his arm. The second half is sheer genius, with a chug-chug single-note mosh part and a riff that slowly swells and evolves into a crescendo of melody. Take THIS, all you people who say Metallica doesn't know how to develop their riff ideas!

"Disposable Heroes" ratchets the tempo back up and presents an explosive, balls-forward thrash-out session. This song grinds you into the ground with riffs. "Damage Inc" is equally fast, but has a sort of spacey, atmospheric vibe to it, mostly propelled by Hammett's minimalistic riffing and Cliff Burton's basslines. This song is triple-A certified headbanger material, and a worthy closer for the record.

There are, inevitably, a few small points where the album could be improved. Kirk Hammett's solos don't always hit the spot. Half the time it seems like he's throwing in brief noodles because hell, metal songs are supposed to have solos, aren't they? As always, Lars Ulrich is a nonentity. He keeps up a steady beat, but his drumming comes nowhere near to capturing the speed and presence that Hoglan, Bostaph, et al have as a matter of course. And what does he have against double-bass? I can't hear any of it except in "Leper Messiah."

Speaking of "Leper Messiah", this song is something of a weak note. Not because it's bad, but because it's merely a very good song on an album full of amazing ones. The riffs are groovy and slow (although there are some kickass arpeggios in the chorus) and the whole thing sounds repetitive and dry. But hang in there, because the song does improve in the bridge and turns into a nice fast-tempo thrasher. You have to wade through 3-4 minutes of so-so material to get there, though.

It's scary that, in order to build a case that Master of Puppets sucks, you must resort to such insignificant nitpicks. Some of Master of Puppet's songs aren't as good as they could be, but they are all songs, and (although some are better than others) they are all written to the same level of quality. Can any other thrash album make that claim? The majority of Megadeth's Rust in Peace will forever languish under the shadow of "Holy Wars" and "Hangar 18", and the same applies to Slayer's Reign in Blood, where there are only two or three songs that even warrant attention. But each song on Master of Puppets can be discussed and analysed at many levels. Something that doesn't seem to occur to most of this album's critics, is that if you can spend 3000 words lecturing on why something is unimportant, perhaps it isn't unimportant after all.

This album deserves all the praise that has been heaped upon it. It is one of heavy metal's great classics. True perfection will always be unattainable, but Master of Puppets at least has a decent rip at it. If I had to recommend one Metallica album, it would be this. Hail, Master of Puppets...the one and only!

Artful Thrash - 90%

Torwilligous, June 12th, 2007

I admit that I am loth to submit another review of Master of Puppets - has everything that needs to be said already been said? - but I think, looking down at what has already been written, most of the opinions have ranged from ridiculous flaming to nostalgic reminiscence - via various comments about 'arse kickery' and whatnot - and my opinion on Metallica's greatest work lies somewhere else entirely. People have said that the riffs here aren't particularly complex, that the structures hardly break new grounds of complexity, and therefore that this is not remarkable, but I entirely disagree. I believe Master of Puppets is a superlative example of exactly how to make a genre of extreme metal intelligent, accessible, catchy, literate and focussed. No, it doesn't contain fifty billion riffs, or go at nine thousand and twenty beats per second; nor does it push the boundaries of extremity in any way. These are not the only criteria that matter, and 'Master of Puppets' proves it.

The playing and production here are perfectly synchronised to produce the maximum possible impact. The whole band - even the much maligned Lars Ulrich - stays tighter than a motherfucking gnat's arse at all times, driving the record with their locked-in thrashing. So focussed are they, that you could swear that the arms of James Hetfield and Kirk Hammet were rigged up to computers. Lars pounds away, making up for what he lacks in technique with the weight he puts behind every single skin attack; he really sounds like he is smacking those drums about, and his fills crash around the listener's ears like meteorites. Cliff Burton's unconventional bass shredding lurks below the surface, twisting beneath the songs like a growling shadow of menace. Hetfield's vocals are laden with fury and force, and he gives a performance light years ahead of all his previous attempts. Everything is beautifully mixed, proffessional and slick as can be; this was a new way of recording extreme metal, a way which showed it didn't have to all be raw and raucous to be effective.

Second, the songwriting is perfect. Each riff is maintained for precisely the right time before moving on; normal cyclical song structuring is enlivened by perfectly placed riff progressions. This is not 'one riff per section' song writing, but is thought-through and purposeful complexity that remains accessible at all times - quite a feat. Every solo that Kirk Hammet busts out on this album is perfectly suited to the song which it is in, and each one is both similar enough to be clearly Kirk and different enough to be able to tell immediately which song it was from within about half a second. That's what you call class. Equally, Metallica reinforce the point that they were more than just thrashing machines, with delicate acoustic guitar interludes showcasing their sublime melodic and harmonic sensibilities - a facet of their collective personality further reinforced by the various guitar-duelling harmonies present within, which can only be described as immense. Everything is just so perfectly placed; there is nothing throwaway or slapdash at all about this album, and you can tell by listening to it.

Next, the fantastic lyrics. Metal started out with thoughtful, atmospheric, unconventional and intelligent lyrics (though you wouldn't think it nowadays), and Metallica with their previous album had begun to introduce carefully crafted metaphors; metaphors that brilliantly used heavy metal cliches to introduce social commentary and philosophising without sounding out of place. Here, this experimentation reaches its apex of creativity, in an album themed entirely around various facets of control, power and its abuses; the surface themes of domination, agression and fantasy perfectly characterise the underlying meaning behind the words - drug abuse, authoritariansim, religion, unchecked corporate greed and more are explored in an unconventional and brillilant way.

If people want to hate this album, then I guess they can; they would be the only ones missing out on a truly enlightening experience. Back when I first got my ears around this, I thought all heavy metal was obsolete and useless, but 'Master of Puppets' showed me that this is not necessarily the case, and that any genre of music - no matter how maligned by idiotic music journalists - can have an artistic relevance which no other can encapsulate. Truly, 'Master of Puppets' was Metallica's masterwork, a piece of ferociously headbanging thrash which also had a brain and something to say to the world. I highly recommend it.

A step down, but still going strong - 85%

Mikesn, February 20th, 2007

Up until that fateful September day, 1986 would have been a great year to be a member of Metallica. You were one of the biggest up and coming acts in the metal scene. You were spearheading the thrash metal movement in America. You had released two very well received albums, Kill Em All and Ride the Lightning. 1986 would be the year you'd release your 3rd full length album, Master of Puppets. Little did you know, Master of Puppets would become one of metal's most heralded albums of all time. Yeah, to say that they were in a good position would be an understatement. The metal world looked on to see how Metallica would handle their situation, would they pass with flying colours? Or would they crumble underneath all the pressure? Well, in short, the album was an incredible success. One of the most influential records of the genre, Master of Puppets is quite a fun album to listen to.

Master of Puppets is quite similar to Metallica's previous album, Ride the Lightning. The band again makes use of the thrash style it helped pioneer. Needless to say, the band's style is very effective. Despite the addition of melody to their thrashy formula, Metallica does not lose any of the aggression that made their older material so appealing. Songs such as Damage Inc and Battery both feature the heavy riffage that the band had carried with them from the beginning. However, the highlight of the Master of Puppets comes from tracks two and four. Both the song Master of Puppets and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) feature long melodic sections which are undoubtedly the most interesting moments of the album. These melodic interludes help change things up, particularly in the eight and a half minute long epic title track, a song driven by aggressive riffs. In a way it reminds me of Iron Maiden's epic Powerslave. Both songs start and end in a heavy manner, but effective leads and harmonies calm the aggressive moods implied by both tracks. It's quite infectious really, and easily my favourite part of the album.

Yeah so Ride the Lightning is my favourite Metallica album. However, saying that, there is one aspect of Master of Puppets that I prefer over its predecessor. This lies in the vocals of James Hetfield. I thought he did a good job with Ride the Lightning, especially for a thrash vocalist. But his efforts here are oh so much superior to the previous album. One song that displays this improvement is Welcome Home (Sanitarium). James' voice compliments the haunting clean guitar riff very well and invokes the pain of someone serving at an asylum. His singing is very emotional and fits the mood that the song attempts to imply. Along with the likes of Fade to Black, Ride the Lightning, and perhaps One, his efforts on Welcome Home Sanitarium may very well be the best vocal performance of his career. Battery is perhaps a better representation of what is in store for listeners when they hear Hetfield's performance on Metallica's third album. His technique has a definite aggressive edge to it, and he shines during the choruses. Aside from the son Welcome Home (Sanitarium), my favourite moment from James would be during the chorus of Disposable Heroes. His mocking of a commander ordering his soldiers to fight, kill, and die for his country has a powerful message which is depicted exceedingly well.

To this very day, Metallica's Master of Puppets is regarded as one of heavy metal's greatest all time albums. Released in 1986, one of metal's most productive years, it stands along side Iron Maiden's Somewhere in Time, Megadeth's Peace Sells…But Who's Buying, Slayer's Reign in Blood, and Dark Angel's Darkness Descends as some of the years best albums, and is certainly no slouch. Tracks like Battery, Master of Puppets, and Orion have become favourites of metal fans all over the world, and have helped influence entire generations of new metal bands. Though I don't feel that Master of Puppets is Metallica's best album, it is definitely a record that every metalhead should own. Pick it up if you haven't already.

(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)

Enigmatica - 90%

erickg13, February 4th, 2007

“Master of Puppets”, words that divide the metal community, to some it’s a landmark achievement, to others it’s the point at which it all went horribly wrong. This is plainly evident if you read any review of this album. But how does a single album divide the metal community so much? Might it actually be not this album itself, but the events that followed this album? Many questions can be asked, and it’s doubtful anyone will ever find a definite answer to any of them.

But one element of “Master of Puppets” always seems to be overlooked: the music. “Master of Puppets” provides us with some of the best music Metallica made. However there is one main problem: it is nearly the exact same album as “Ride the Lightning”. From the acoustic intro, to the similar track-listing, and similar lyrical themes, this is the fraternal twin of its predecessor. Seeing as “Ride the Lightning” was so good, it wouldn’t be that hard to imagine that an album that follows the same blueprint would at least equal it. That is where “Master of Puppets” falters, it almost matches, and moreover fails to exceed its predecessor.

But why does “Master of Puppets” falter? Or better yet, where does it falter? Well, one reason why may be that there isn’t anymore ideas they can use the Dave Mustaine left with them. And while there is no single point at which this album falters, but there are just moments that don’t live up. Take, for instance, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”, which wants to be “Fade to Black”, but it just isn’t, so in that case, this album doesn’t equal “Ride the Lightning”.

Another problem is that this album is so hailed that sometimes when listened to, it disappoints. However that doesn’t mean this is a horrid disappointment, but it just doesn’t live up to the title of “greatest metal album ever”.

What about the material on “Master of Puppets”? Well, there are some really good songs, and some middle of the road songs, and some not so good songs. Some that dwell in the good songs category are: the mammoth title track, “Master of Puppets” and the classy instrumental “Orion”. Some of the middle of the road songs are: the opener “Battery”, the doomy “The Thing That Should Not Be”, and the thrashy closer “Damage Inc.”. And then we have the not so good songs: “(Welcome Home) Sanitarium”, “Disposable Heroes”, and “Leper Messiah”. The main problem with the last three songs is that each wants to be another song, “(Welcome Home) Sanitarium” wants to be “Fade to Black”, “Disposable Heroes” wants to be “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “Leper Messiah” wants to be “Creeping Death”. But remember all these songs are rated in context to the rest of the songs on the album, so even the not so good songs are better than some of the best songs on other albums (both by Metallica, and other bands).

Another problem that is becoming evident is that the solos have a tendency to become tedious and boring. Most evident is the solo on “(Welcome Home) Sanitarium”. Kirk Hammett’s best solos are the fast, skilled and full of feeling, there is instances where he lacks all three of these elements on this album, for the most part. This trend would become more evident as the years went by.

On the other hand we have vocalist and rhythm guitarist, of course, James Hetfield. On “Master of Puppets” his vocals seem to have matured some, along with his rhythm guitar-work being one of the albums driving force. There is nothing wrong with his performance, but at times his vocals sound tired, aside from that it is flawless.

Next is drummer/future talking head, Lars Ulrich, who again improves on the drums, the last time he would do so on an album. The drums sound perfect on this album, production wise, there are no rattles or clicks, just solid thunderous beats.

And of course there’s legendary bassist Cliff Burton, who alongside Ulrich and Hetfield, provide one incredibly intense rhythm section. Of course this wound up being his last record, and that does make “Master of Puppets” special in a sense, but not only for that reason alone. His death often gets in the way of his performance, which when listened to will remind you why he is so hailed. A lot of people have made music and then passed away, but he is remembered for the caliber of music he made, which of course, is overwhelmingly excellent.

So, that’s it. That’s Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” with all its faults and all its achievements. It’s not the best metal album ever made, it’s a pretty damn good one, but there are better. But “Master of Puppets” stands on its own as a very enigmatic, dividing, and controversial album. For the range of opinions of this album, it is best taken in for ones self.

A Turning Point In Metal - 99%

Erin_Fox, October 28th, 2006

San Francisco based Metallica would turn a lot of heads with 1984’s crushing thrash manifesto, “Ride The Lightning”, but it would be with the release of “Master Of Puppets” that the group would set their sights directly on world domination. Unpretentious, furious and most certainly heavier than hell, this record was a deafening roar in the face of an unsuspecting metal audience, many of whom were at the time unprepared for a hammering onslaught such as “Battery.” One smoking stereo system later, the band dives head on into the muscular title cut. This song would prove to be one of metal’s all-time classic tracks, bringing the spotlight directly on thrash metal during the group’s subsequent tour with wasted metal madman Ozzy Osbourne.

This record established Flemming Rasmussen as a top-notch heavy metal producer, as the expert knob-twister pulled every bit of heaviness out of the band while giving them a full yet slick overall sound that would become the benchmark for many metal albums to follow. Providing an amply spooky atmosphere, the colossal, massively detuned “The Thing That Should Not Be” possesses one of the preeminent doom-laden riffs that a metal band has undertaken to date. James Hetfield’s singing on this track cannot be underestimated in any fashion. In retrospect, his voice here is as cool sounding and awe-inspiring as it ever has been. Metallica, by this point, have gelled into a cohesive unit with a common goal of complete musical destruction at whatever tempo.

A track that would easily make the top ten Metallica songs of all time, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” mashes a forlorn, melodic verse with a weighty, commanding chorus. On “Master Of Puppets”, the group had gotten much better at combining melody with pure heaviness. This is plainly noticeable on the brooding plea entitled “Welcome Home”, which displays intentional, intricate harmonic subtlety as well as Metallica’s patented, overpowering forcefulness. Both “Disposable Heroes” as well as “Leper Messiah” resonate songwriting strength and substantial thickness and bass guitarist Cliff Burton’s amazing instrumental “Orion” offers the listener a devastating array of riffing and sharp metal licks, showing that Burton had a tremendous impact on the intricacy of the band’s songwriting overall.

Enter “Damage Inc.”, the album’s closer. Doubtlessly, this track is the most severe thrashing that many a metal fan had ever encountered, with a blistering pace that made it the most extreme thing going in 1986. Lars Ulrich shows here why he deserves to be the drummer for the world’s largest heavy metal band, his sharp attention to detail surpassed only by his precise bashing. Having just created a metal masterpiece, the group would unfortunately be stricken by tragedy before they had even finished properly promoting the album.

Timeless, boundary-obliterating and brimming with a furious energy, “Master Of Puppets” is a cornerstone in the kingdom of heavy metal.

Where it all started to go wrong. - 63%

hells_unicorn, September 23rd, 2006

In recent years, after the plunge of this band into being a complete caricature of what is wrong with music today, everyone began to wonder what went wrong, why did this band turn into a walking satire. I myself had my own theories about it as I penned reviews for the substandard Load albums and began a rather painful listening session of “St. Anger”. I happened upon some rather scathing reviews of this album as being the death of metal/a corruption in the fabric that resulted in the death of thrash. On top of this, I’ve read some rather nostalgic, yet somewhat apologetic and weak defenses of this album.

As some may have gleaned, I am a guitar player who is currently co-fronting a power metal band with some symphonic influences, but what is not mentioned there is that my first introduction into heavy metal was in the realm of thrash, particularly MegaDeth’s “Peace Sells” album. I was 13 years old at the time and I was just starting to learn guitar with Nirvana as my primary influence, but my brother was liquidating his own stock of old audio cassettes and I ended up with a mountain of 80s metal albums, the two main ones were Metallica’s “And Justice for All” and MegaDeth’s “Peace Sells”. The latter received the most attention from me, although the former was very well received. Fairly soon after, Kurt Cobain shot himself, I realized that his music was an artistic dead-end and I began learning how to actually play my instrument.

I had never thought of reviewing this album because truth be told, I have not listened to it in years. I bought this album in 1994 because everyone in my high school guitar class told me it was Metallica’s masterpiece, so I went to the store and picked it up on CD. "Kill Em’ All", "Ride The Lightning", and "And Justice For All" all receive regular play in my stereo, and occasionally I do listen to the self-titled album. But for some reason, though I didn’t chalk it up to not liking the album at the time, I just had other things to listen to, so I just didn't see it as that important musically. On an intuition, I picked it up again and after listening to this album 10 times through, over a course of 4 days during some long commutes, I figured out where the dissent I had encountered was coming from.

One of the things I did during these listening sessions was re-learn all of the lead riffs and the solos, which are not all that technically or musically intricate actually. Kirk Hammet’s best solos on this album are the ones on “Disposable Heroes” and “Battery”, and they are good primarily because they are geared towards what Kirk has always been good at, venting anger through fast and repetitive pentatonic licks and scale runs. His more melodic solos on “Sanitarium” are extremely anti-climactic, as was the case with his lead work on “To Live Is To Die”, and sound more forced than anything else. All of the rest of his material is highly forgettable, because they are too long winded and localized to one spot. Kirk’s solos are best when split up into smaller doses and spread out through out the song in short bursts. When they are long-winded and done over a constantly repeated drone, it sounds like some shred kid doing basic pentatonic calisthenics rather than something musical. It is also important to note that this album is where Kirk is beginning to use the wah pedal as a crutch rather than an effect to complement some of his solos, and the result is his current overuse of it.

The main riffs of these songs are highly memorable, too memorable in fact, and this is where an accusation is raised about this album being a bunch of fluff and fodder for public consumption stems from. One of the reasons for this is that the riffs are played over and over ad nauseum. This can be readily observed in the intros to “Battery”, the title track, “The Thing That Should Not Be”, “Sanitarium”, as well as the main riffs of “Leper Messiah” and “Damage Inc.” There are a good number of differing riffs and parts in each track, but all of them are repeated far too much and not developed at all. The "Black Album" at least attempted to vary the rhythm riffs, here there is absolutely no attempt being made. Back during the war in Afghanistan it was rumored that the Allied military was using Metallica’s music to extract information from prisoners, I wouldn’t be surprised if they used some of this album, because parts of it turn into sheer torture on the ears during repeated listens, to the point of it becoming musical propaganda. It screams “these are great riffs, and you will hear them over and over until you agree with me!!!”.

The intros of all the mainstream friendly songs, minus perhaps “Orion”, are all geared towards one purpose, hiding the true nature of what Metallica is, a thrash band. None of the intros in the more thrashing songs that have them are brought back, making it sound like your listening to 2 completely different songs. There is something to be said for the idea that these intros are meant to suck in non-metal fans and boost album sales, but there is a deeper musical emotion at work than the pretense of greed, and that is shame. It is not a question of having soft intros to loud songs, many great bands do this effectively and “Fight Fire with Fire” is an example of Metallica doing it right, but it’s a matter of having intros for the sake of having them, with no other purpose than to act as window dressing to make what comes after not seem as heavy, as aggressive, as fucking metal.

Metallica has truly taken the road of self-parody, and this is readily observable in the structure of these songs. A good analogy, if anyone here is a novel buff, is the practice in architecture of setting up ornamentation and figurehead statues to hide the actual structure itself in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”. The result is the articulation of shame over the goodness of your work, and ultimately the death of the art save the individuals whom rebel against the trend. This is exactly what happened in the early 90s in Metal, and the result was the worst possible band taking over the reins of heavy music, Nirvana. If you haven’t read “The Fountainhead”, I recommend reading it because it explains exactly how not only in architecture, but in every art it is guilt over your own greatness that destroys it.

I’m going to personally take a moment to single out “The Thing That Should Not Be” because quite frankly this is one of the worst attempts to re-capture the slower doom sound of Sabbath that I’ve ever heard. The intro riff is gloomy and dark sounding enough, but the rest of the song is so slow, over-long, redundant and boring that you almost want to yank the CD out of the player and crush it inside your own fist. If it wasn’t for the fact that this album has the old punch sound in the guitar that Metallica used to exhibit regularly, this song would almost sound like a slightly more organized version of “The Outlaw Torn”.

The lyrics of this album are a perfect reflection of the propaganda like nature of the musical structure, be it the tired "just say no to drugs" theme in the title track, the weak willed words against televangelism in “Leper Messiah”, the collectivist spirit of “Sanitarium”, or the cliché post 60s anti-war rehash of “Disposable Heroes”. But the important aspect of these songs is not the politics, but the underlying principle that causes one to take up these various pet causes and to turn your music into a slave of established and self-contradictory political ideologies, and that is the desire to have your music seem important for the sake of being important to others. Music is an art that is independent of the listener, the listener is drawn to it because of it’s nature, not because it panders to what the listeners may or may not agree with. This is where the line is drawn between true art and propaganda disguised as art, and the lion’s share of this album is the latter, not the former which could describe the works before this.

If there is any saving grace to this album, it is the things that I did not mention. Despite being overlong and essentially being an idea stolen from Dave Mustaine’s past work in Metallica, “Disposable Heroes” is a decent song and can be extracted from the rest of the mediocrity on this album. “Orion” is actually a good instrumental and highlights the strength of Cliff Burton’s post-Sabbath influence on the band, one that was sadly lost after his death. “Damage Inc.“ is a good song, even though the structure is thrown off a bit by the intro. And if you ignore the redundant and flat sounding acoustic intro to “Battery”, you have a song very similar to “Blackened”, but if you can’t do this, just listening to the opening track to “And Justice for All” will suffice.

As far as what the socio-cultural impact of this album was on the greater metal scene, I would like to add a few things as to how this album succeeded in doing what it did, and why it’s impact was delayed. In 1986 thrash was still alive and kicking. Nuclear Assault had just hit the scene, Anthrax would be poised to release a set of decent albums, and MegaDeth was still pumping out classic albums. As far as the death of thrash goes, MegaDeth’s “Peace Sells” was the primary delay in it’s demise. As far as the death of the entire metal movement in the early 90s, this was caused in part by the acceptance of this corrupt form of thrash by most of the metal faithful, but it was helped by a lot of other circumstances, and also delayed by some stellar releases.

Judas Priest had probably their least heavy release in 1986, but in 1988 their classic speed and shred based “Ram it Down” provided a NWOBHM alternative to the disease that was slowly festering in the Thrash scene, and this was followed by the even more fast and fierce “Painkiller”. Also, Iron Maiden released their greatest album in “Somewhere in Time” the same year as this album was released, and followed it up by an ingenious concept album in “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”. Unfortunately, the self-destruction of these bands due to conflicts between the front men and the others left a vacuum to be filled by the first person with an ounce of angst in him, and that is how we ended up with Kurt Cobain, who basically filled a complete artistic vacuum with a nihilistic/anarchistic punk rock sound that was so self-parodying, even compared to this album, that it’s seemingly premature demise was inevitable.

Also note, Yngwie was still cranking out classics even after the death of metal in America and keeping others outside the states interested, despite being labeled as has been and being ridiculed by these closeted sausage hounds in the 90s thrash scene. If anything, Yngwie has as much of a brief against this album as all in the Thrash community, because his image and style of playing was what came under direct assault in the early 90s as a result of it. The darker metal that was influenced by Merciful Fate and others pioneering the occult side of metal were always underground, and they did well to survive this disease and are still going with their integrity intact.

No my friends, Metallica did not kill metal with this album, but they made it so sick and decrepit that it had to disappear in order to heal from the wounds inflicted on it by this virus. What this album did to metal, however, is not the reason for the low score. The reason is that this is a sub-standard and mediocre release that came from a band that was far more capable than this, and the only danger threatened by it is accepting it as being better than what it actually is. I personally am not interested in dwelling upon the past of metal, I am more interested in it’s future, and it does not lie with this album, nothing great is influenced by anything mediocre. To those of you aspiring metal bands out there who want to do something great, steer clear of this release. I had a long talk with all the members of my band and we have all agreed that this album is one that will not impact our music in any way, shape or form.

Later submitted to ( on August 20, 2008.

Apologetics for a victim of the generation gap - 90%

Napero, September 10th, 2006

Master of Puppets truly is an exceptional album. As a musical piece of art it hardly sets any superior standards never seen before, neither does it really exceed the standards set by its contemporaries. Moreover, the teeth of time have not been too kind to it. But it holds a special place in metal history for its commercial success and fame. Yes, an album can become legendary simply because it becomes legendary. At some point on the path to fame, a positive feedback sets in, and the album turns from a new favourite into a phenomenon. It's relatively rare in metal, but it happened to MoP. It isn't necessarily the album's own fault.

Somehow, for some people, it has become a fashion of sorts to attack Master of Puppets and claim it's a commercial sell-out, a bad album, undeserving of its fame, or even, amusingly, the death of heavy metal. If a single album can kill a genre, the genre was too weak to live in the first place. It may be that Master of Puppets is not the creative apex in the history of metal, nor the apex of Metallica themselves. I certainly don't consider it the best album ever. That questionable honour goes to, you guessed it, The Sane Asylum. But MoP sure isn't an inherently bad album, and probably its main faults lie in its relatively easy accessibility, in the way it gave a million metal laymen something a bit stringy but tantalizingly delicious to chew on in the mid 80's, and in its subsequent commercial success. I don't generally like the attacks on Puppets, unless the attack is based on solid reasoning. Just the fact that it sold millions of copies doesn't turn MoP into an album by Europe, and much more thought and arguments are needed before I can silently accept the downplaying of its importance. Neither is the fact that its ideas, song structures and sound have been imitated by gazillions of garage bands a reason to say it blows. On the contrary.

Everybody has heard the album. Or, more like it, everybody should have heard the album, there may be a minority of 6 to 8 percent here so far without the experience. There's no need to describe the sound, it is the definitive 80's metal sound. It must suffice to say that as certainly as the riffing became the model for many a guitarist in his garage, the Metallica sound became an equally revered goal for the producers. The effect of MoP can be easily heard in the production of mainstream metal until the mid 90's.

The songs are familiar to almost everybody, at least the songs Master of Puppets, Orion and Sanitarium, the three musketeers of overplayed metal. Master of Puppets is a work of truly monolithic stature, and I bet only a few works by Iron Maiden can challenge it's familiarity, as far as complete albums go, to such a a large portion of the users of the Archives. The Master riff alone is instantly recognizable, and Damage Inc is quite probably the fastest thing on any rock or metal album ever to sell over five million copies.

Maybe one of the most important things that turned the album into such a hit were the mellow parts. The whole Sanitarium actually becomes quite hard for the late 80's consumers of Def Leppard and Wet Wet Wet before it ends, but does it with stealth; many Madonna and Miami Vice fans didn't realize the gradual transition to metal, and would not have accepted Sanitarium as a nice song if they had only heard the end. The slower parts in Master of Puppets itself and Orion were, for some reason, often considered the album's real feats of musicianship by people who think becoming a metal artist equals trying to cover the lack of musical talent with excessive noise. Oh, the irony! Hetfield plays half an hour with his fingers bleeding, and Joe Sixpack thinks he was at his best during those moments that must have saved Ulrich from several looming heart attacks on live gigs. The mellowness turned the MoP into an effective gateway drug; there, on a thrash album, were parts that were easy and peaceful enough to be enjoyed by the guy from the street, slow and beautiful, but still ominous enough to tempt a dark-minded minority deeper into the album. MoP moulded millions from standard pulp into metalheads, and it did that by offering some sugar-coated bits, still attached to music that held within the essence and barbed hooks of metal, and reeled them in after the prey swallowed the lure.

I can't remember where I was when I heard about the Kennedy assassination. It must have something to do with the fact that my father was about fifteen years old at the time, and I was not to be born for another eight years. I was probably eating in a local McDonalds when I heard of the September 11th attacks, but I'm not 100% sure; a friend of mine says it's correct, though. What I am sure of is that I was sitting on a bus on a smaller road parallel to the road currently bearing the number 25 in Finland, right next to the Koverhar steel plant, on my way home from school when I heard Metallica for the first time. The song was Master of Puppets itself, and it was an exhilarating, confusing sonic blast. The bus driver, probably something like thirty or forty years old, and as far from a metalhead as anyone without a walker can be, had the radio on, and there it was, in the middle of the easy-listen radio show, a ruthless piece of thrash. I had some Deep Purple, Rainbow, Dio and Twisted Sister on crappy copied tapes, and I was a 15-year old nerd trying to find my place on the field of music, mostly leaning towards hard rock and metal already, but still soft and very impressionable. Metallica was truly something new, and it hit me like a ton of feathers, not necessarily knocking me out, but overwhelming and obscuring the rest of the world for a while. And that, people, was the magic of Metallica. It was mainstream enough to be heard by virtually everybody, yet aggressive and different enough to lure malleable young souls like me into the world of metal. Master of Puppets was the favourite gateway drug of the 80's metal, and it sold furiously.

It took a few days more before I heard Battery, and within a couple of weeks my friend had the Master of Puppets on vinyl. It was a curiosity, an album to be approached with extreme caution, and didn't really stick on my skin until a few months later. But it was different and, at the time, merciless. That year was probably the best metal year of the whole 1980's, and no matter what Metallica's current street value is, Master of Puppets was an essential part of that very year. Two years later I was a handsome, long-haired thrash Hercules with a beutifully matured and muscularly symmetric body, and MoP had played an important part in the incredible transformation from a tapeworm-colored 70-pound nerd into the beautiful (and largely fictional) mosh-Jesus.

All right, I admit, the music is what it is, and all of it hasn't aged well. The thrash parts -Battery, Master of Puppets, Disposable Heroes and Damage Inc- do not sound nearly as furious anymore as they did back then. Sanitarium's melodic progression from half-acoustic mellowness to mellow thrashiness had already been seen on Ride the Lightning in the form of Fade to Black, and would be seen again as One on the next album. The Thing That Should Not Be has never really worked for me, except for the lyrical content, and Leper Messiah is a curious attempt at doing something else. Orion, unfortunately, is the specific song on the album that crosses the line and becomes too accessible in its prolonged repetitiveness, and ends up being the only metal intrumental known by approximately 68 million people with otherwise minimal knowledge of metal outside Aerosmith and Van Halen. Yes, you know what I mean, and yes, I know Aerosmith and Van Halen are not metal, but They don't. Also, the aforementioned production has suffered an immense drop in respect, just because it was copied by everybody for a decade and sounds aged for that sole reason alone. But look back at the times when MoP was young, try to remember where you were, and conjure an image of the effect it had. 1986 was the year of Chernobyl, the Olof Palme murder and the Challenger explosion. Do those ring any bells?

I think most of the people who say they dislike MoP were still building sandcastles or learning not to wet their beds in 1986. And honestly, I don't really blame them. I've had a lot of trouble in learning to appreciate the music from the ancient times before I turned 10. Black Sabbath is a prime example of this: I recognize a dozen or so songs, but find none of them really worth my time. Iron Man gives me a rash and makes me restless and irritated, and that drunken, off-key feminine "Öy Yeeh!" in the beginning of that one song is stupid enough make me blush for Ozzy. But I still won't deny the band's influence or value. We would all be listening to elevator muzak pan flute synth versions of The Beatles if it weren't for them. Yup, Alphaville would have claimed a two-inch space on YOUR CD shelf without Black Sabbath. And the songs aren't bad, they are just... old, and they've been remade ten thousand times since. And that's the problem with younger people's ideas about Master of Puppets; everything on the album has been done again three thousand times since. But, remember, only a few times before it. And those few times were witnessed by just a tiny handful of people, before the albums gradually became recognized long after Master of Puppets had sold a million copies.

Master of Puppets taught an important lesson to the mindless masses of the mainstream hard rock and heavy metal crowd of the time. The lesson was simple: appreciate the Riff. That was the odd blast I had when I first heart the title track: the main riff, no matter if and from whom it was originally stolen, was something new, and the basic construction, the very essence of thrash, would be repeated many times over on the album itself. There were riffs before. Many bands certainly made equally or even more riff based metal already before Ride the Lightning. I'm not saying anything to the effect that Metallica invented riffs, or thrash riffs (or even their own riffs, for that matter). But Master of Puppets was the first riff-driven thrash metal album ever heard by the ignorant masses. That in itself is the defining achievement of the album, its claim to fame. Everybody knows it: you, me, the metalhead next door, the 30 years old nicely C-cupped secretary in your dad's office and that pale skinny guy handing you the fries on the drive-through (or, alternatively, receiving them from you). Try to explain something about Artillery's Fear of Tomorrow or Dark Angel's Darkness Descends to those people, and you get the same "get out of here, you untidy weirdo" look you'd give a flaming indie movie buff trying to tell you about the newest art movie with sexual minority cowboys eating quiche; it isn't familiar, so it's bound to be less interesting. And if the same movie freak at the same time makes the mistake of saying that The Last Boyscout is worthless mainstream junk of questionable entertainment value, you'd certainly punch the dweeb, right? Connoisseurs can have their opinions, but the great public knows and -surprisingly- tolerates MoP quite well. It is the defining habit of the snob to say that the things loved by normal people are crap. I've tried to avoid that at all costs: I like cooking and well-made food, imported ales and occasionally prefer certain european movies to their US counterparts. But I've also told my friends to bitch-slap me hard and repeatedly if I ever say no to a case of finnish lager, an ice hockey game and three bags of potato chips with chicken wings attached.

One of the stupid ideas certain types of people seem to love is trying their damnest to find hidden meanings and deeper ideas in mainstream works. Usually this overanalyzing takes place after everything really relevant has already been said. A while ago Master of Puppets was still included in the Wikipedia's list of concept albums; it seems to have been deleted now, and rightly so. The album's own entry used to contain the goofy interpretation. This is supposed to be a concept album exploring the idea of control, an esoteric and multifaceted puppet master, and even Orion is an alleged study on the use of power, because Orion in the ancient legends did some stupid stuff. Bollocks, I say. I will leave proving this amusing hypothesis wrong as an excercise to the reader. An inductive proof can probably be found simply by writing two dozen words on little pieces of paper. Use big blanketing words like "power", "corruption", "progression", "chaos" and "control". Be creative. Then blindfold yourself, draw one of the words out of the pile and an album from your collection at random, and spent fifteen minutes composing an essay to prove the chosen album is a concept album exploring the Big Word in question. Like, say, the word "religion" and the album Here Comes Trouble by Scatterbrain. It can be done, and in a convincing manner, just believe me if you can't be bothered to try.

Erm... Okay, I'll admit, it cannot be done with "religion" and Here Comes Trouble. But you get the idea. This piece of work is roughly equal in its concept album quotient to every single album released in 1986.

It seems that we have a young, eager generation of metalheads that have been brought up with the idea that Ulrich's first name is actually supposed be spelled Lar$. All right, maybe his bright-eyed and childishly idealistic opposition to Napster and other actions, not to mention the sub-par releases after Justice for All, all selling in the millions nonetheless, have lent some credibility to the joke, but anyone claiming that Master of Puppets was made with the single idea of cashing in is worthy of being pelted to death with Cradle of Filth CDs. Metallica, in 1986, was not yet a rich'n'bloated guy's milking cow. No, it still was an ambitious young group that, despite for the most parts just copying their previous work, still had their own idea. None of the money they gained from Master of Puppets in the end was by any means automatically there to be cashed in. Had it been, someone else would have grabbed it. Granted, the album idea was already formatted well enough to be franchised, a fact that can be verified simply by observing that the slow melodic pieces, i.e. Fade to Black, Sanitarium and One, are all placed on the same spot on the respective albums, and that the "progressive" instrumentals (Call of Ktulu, Orion, To Live Is to Die) hold an equally fixed position in the track listings. There is an underlying template at work here. But it was their own format, and if they managed to pull it off well enough to reap the rich harvest, it should be OK for anyone who claims to support capitalism. If it isn't, well, then the underground übertr00 black metal penguins with their obscure demo tapes (limited to 13 official copies and the six special top secret "goat blood" editions for the closest circle of friends and the artists' mothers) have already won. If getting a million dollars has something inherently bad in it, then stop trying to get a recording contract and simply shove your music to MySpace and Audiostreet, or better yet, shut yourself into the grimness of your step-dad's basement and play your music to no one. Don't be surprised if you get beaten up by the jocks sometimes, though. I know there are hundreds of bands that follow the ideology, but for every one of those, there's a hundred more striving to get signed. Commercial success does not always mean the album sucks. Most often it does, I'll admit, but not quite always. If there is an overriding, unavoidable need for chart music to exist, I'll take any song from any Metallica album (save St Anger) over any spanish/german/swedish/finnish brainless pop song and play it from here to eternity with glee. And I don't care if Ulrich can get better than average Westfalen air-dried ham onto his danish sandwiches as a result. That's the spirit of capitalism, and claiming it's wrong equals being a communist. The guys came up with a succesful formula, milked it, people bought the milk, and they got rich. Right?

So, I'd just like to point out that it took more than four years after the album's release before I heard anyone even remotely resembling a metalhead calling MoP overrated for the first time. Never, I repeat NEVER, during the 80's did anyone say that. And it took half a decade after the Black Album before Metallica-bashing became part of the metalhead trueness-olympics pentathlon (the second sport right after "I've met the guys from Beherit in a sauna" boasting contest, and before the much more rigorous field excercise of making the demo with the lowest number of released official copies, negative digits win). Curiously, a high crest in the wave of MoP-hating coincided with Ulrich's Napster goofiness, and the smell of a bitter revenge by the metal masses hangs heavy in the air. Repent, you fools. And don't come back until you've redeemed yourselves. It wasn't the fault of Master of Puppets itself, it was the amusing drummer guy who lost his hold on the controls of his intellectual moped after finding out that he had been robbed of his 123rd million.

I know it's too much to ask to tell people not to hate Master of Puppets because they only see it as just a thrash album among other thrash albums; it was a magnificient blueprint to be photocopied by thousands of others during the next decade, and cannot be judged among its own spawn, but in the end, it's just an album, and cannot be objectively elevated above the others of its kind, except for nostalgic reasons. But it simply cannot be too much to ask people to stop hating it just because they don't like Lar$ and hate St Anger and the Loads. This album has proven itself worthy of the attention it gets, and doesn't deserve to be treated rudely because of the things that happened after it was released. It has set a standard to measure other things with. And it isn't a bad album, honestly. You may hate it, but don't turn that hate into a public circus act, unless you already hated it in the 80's, in which case you are better entitled to your opinion than I am and I humbly bow and retreat in front of the tr00ness of the Great Old One.

I spent quite a while thinking about the rating. Finally I realized that my own rating guidelines in my profile give me an undisputable answer. I've written that a 90+ means the album will stay on my playlist for years. Master of Puppets has been on my "once-monthly" playlist for over 19 years already, and thus I guess it has proven its value many times over.

The album that killed heavy metal - 0%

UltraBoris, March 21st, 2004

It takes some DAMN GOOD reasoning to give this album such a low rating. The zero implies the absolute nadir of musicality, a level that can only be dreamt of by mere mortals as Fred Durst and your blender. What in Satan's name could this album have done to deserve such a low rating?? It pretty much singlehandedly ENDED heavy metal, that's what. Now, on a strictly musical level, I would give this album a 62 or so. It's not bad. It really isn't. It's certainly not as bad as Saint Anger, proud owner of a former record-low "3%" rating. It's not even as bad as the album that would follow it, And Justice for All, and when all is said and done, it pretty much sums up the averageness of the thrash movement perfectly.

First off, it is where shit really starts to fall apart for Metallica as a band. At this point, you can see the impending death - not just bodily, but creative as well. They are out of Mustaine riffs, and Hetfield isn't exactly the smartest, cleverest cookie in the box, and he's forced to scramble and improvise, so out comes one bashing thrasher, a few more assorted riffs here and there, and then all kinds of half-assed and half-baked ideas that pretty much do not belong in Heavy Metal, the land of the free, the home of the brave... unfortunately, the world caught on to THIS album, this expression of vapidity, and decided that THIS was the way to go.

This album is the Nirvana "Smells like Teen Spirit" of heavy metal. It brought heavy metal to its knees, and castrated it mightily. It is, then, by definition, the most damaging, counterproductive, and overrated LP ever to be released. Even standing it up on its own, and not letting it poison the minds of those that came after it, I wouldn't even put it in the top 10 most influential thrash releases of 1986... it's easily killed by the unholy trinity of Darkness Descends, Reign in Blood, and Pleasure to Kill, which pushed the envelope of metal in three different, related directions. It's not anywhere nearly as enjoyable as expatriate Mustaine's Peace Sells, which was technically brilliant and a whole barrel of fun too, or as dark as Possessed's sophomore effort, or Sepultura and Sodom's full-length debuts. It's not nearly as punk-as-fun as Nuclear Assault's first. Then I could throw in fifteen, if not fifty, other backwash thrash LPs that did nothing for the genre as far as influence goes, but are still a whole fuckload more enjoyable than this one.

So... the songs. There is some ownage here. Battery, for example, is fucking heavy, and works brilliantly well, as a destroyer of worlds. The title track is a bit more calculated, with its main riff gronked from one of the Metal Church demos (also "Over My Dead Body"), and but it dies for a bit in that little Hetfield noodle section in the middle. Say what you will, that part is dumb, and a harbringer of what is to come. Not just because it is dumb, but because it is hailed as visionary - not just on the album, but with this band, and with metal in general. This album didn't do ANYTHING make metal a better, more viable genre... hell, by 1986, everything that was good about metal was pretty much established, it was just a matter of time before all the stupid ideas reared their ugly fucking heads and turned the scene into self-parody. From the inane mindless riff-ennui of Jon Schaffer and Iced Earth, to the stupid dynamic mismanagement of a million bands, ranging from misplaced melodicism of the Gothenburg scene to the awful monotony of Opeth... all of these can be traced back to the vast commercial success of this album. Being "less than thrash" was viewed as a Good Thing. Less than over-the-top, less than expanding the genre, less than creative, less than heavy fucking metal. And of course, as is the human tendency to accept mediocrity, because excellence requires actual EFFORT... people jumped right on this very fucking album. They saw that they did not have to put out an all-out Bonded by Blood thrashfucking mindfuck, or even the complex harmonic beauty of stuff like Peace Sells, with its shredding solos and powerful interludes. If they just put in a obligatory Slow Solo Section, a la Suck Hetfield, they would be accepted as correct by their metal brethren. Rah, rah, put up the horns, thank you for being bland. A thousand Nevermores were spawned by THIS album.

Third song... this probably is the parodic equivalent of Black Sabbath here. Because Black Sabbath were midpaced, creative, and heavy. This is midpaced, boring, and plodding. There is nothing to this song, and of course, it would be viewed as a fucking staple of the "groove-thrash" movement. Robbb Flynnn, he whose contributions to excess are merely putting extra letters on the end of his first name, probably ejaculated twice as hard when he heard this song - and realised he could play shitty and get away with it - than in ANY other time of his life, and that includes his entire career in Vio-lence. This very well may be the song that spawned Machine Head, and of course when Hetfield, through the wall-of-saliva incident, corrupted Diamond Darrell into being a groove monkey, spawned modern Pantera too.

Next up, a cheesy ballad, Sanitarium, which again contains soft sections for the sake of having soft sections. Of course, proper use of dynamics had been completely, TOTALLY invented by about 1976... if Sabotage didn't have it, then Sad Wings certainly did, and anyone claiming to add something new to the idea was pretty much full of hot air. Maybe Rainbow's "Stargazer" can lay a small claim to things, a small claim to have added SOMETHING. And Sanitarum adds nothing. That said, it does not even play the standard cards correctly - there are tons of songs that start off soft and then build up to a frenzied crescendo, and most of them are far more effective than this. See Helstar's "Winds of War" for a perfect example, or even the previous LP's "Fade to Black" for one that works decently well. But of course, there is "Megalomania". And then there is this crap. And that's what this is - unmitigated crap, masquerading as thrash, but being plodding, boring, modern bullshit. This song has absolutely no balls whatsoever. And heavy metal is about BALLS. It's about riffs, it's about smashing a spike through the brains of the listener, making him/her/it perk up and die hard. It's about the slow, twisting zombie passages of Triumph of Death. It's about the flash and the colour and the violence of Chainsaw Charlie. It's about the constant multidirectional bludgeon of From the Past Comes the Storms. It's CERTAINLY NOT about Hetfield moaning "leave me be..." like a thousand other assrape victims to come. But, unfortunately, this is what the world caught onto. This is the illusion that destroyed reality, the feeble cry of patheticness in the night, that virally castrated a powerful genre. Because as Possessed and D.F.A. and up-and-coming bands like Death and Nocturnus were constantly playing loud, proud, and heavy and expanding the genre... and as a thousand other bands like Iron Maiden and Helloween were consistently waving the banner of Judas Fucking Priest... as all of those bands demonstrated vibrancy and life, here was THIS virus, this awful plague of self-mocking stupidity, that slowly corrupted the whole thing from within. And people wonder what happened to metal? People wonder why years like 1993 came along, and why horrendous, backwards bands like Lamb of God and Damage Plan are now on the forefront of the scene? People WONDER - no, it was inevitable, that the mediocrity would rise and destroy everything in its path. All it took was for the metal scene to be inundated with this backwash crap, this horrendous assault that seems so soothing, so relaxing... so "it's OKAY if you suck, junior", so Kurt Cobain before Kurt Cobain himself. Look, this band sucks too, and look at the instant popularity they have. Gresham's Law is a harsh mistress.

So yes, maybe I was mistaken. Maybe this is the album that should be lauded as the avant-garde of the metal scene of 1986. Forget Dark Angel's 286 beats per minute of ultimate heaviness, throw away Reign in Blood's chaotic assault on the senses, and certainly avoid thinking about Pleasure to Kill's death-metal tendencies. Oh no no, none of THOSE albums did jack shit for the metal genre, because the metal genre is OF COURSE about technological backwardsism, insipidity, and playing turned to "4", because only losers like Motorhead play, eat, drink, fuck, sleep, etc... on "11". Save the aggression for the Jager sessions, right Hetfield? The actual music needs to be a complete fucking lullaby. Horror of horrors - though mathematically inevitable of course - the metal genre ate this bullshit up. Again, look at the top bands in pop metal today... the uninspired Iced Earth, who have not had a good idea since 1994, of course proudly declare that early Metallica is their foremost influence. The godawful Machine Head, as mentioned before - groove-monkeys to the core. The lame Testament, who were, other than their lead guitarist, a few screw turns loose in the creativity department - their The New Order (a "thrash classic", my ass) is pretty much a fourth-rate Master of Puppets ripoff, and their latest stuff takes ideas that were more heavily present on this LP, and less so on others.

Fifth up is Disposable Heroes, eight minutes of thrash, showing that, if pressed, the band could still deliver the goods. This, along with Battery, is the highlight of the album. It's competent thrash a la 1984 or 1985, except maybe a bit overlong. That said, if you think this has crushing riffage, you have not heard Exodus's Piranha. Again, if the album were all like this, then it would be an average thrasher, not unlike a thousand others that came out in this year. See Death Angel's "The Ultraviolence" for a quick example. Following Disposable Heroes is the clearly Mustaine-written - at least, in the interesting parts, anyway - Leper Messiah. That middle break is so completely Killing/Peace Sells that the fact that Hetfield could even barely begin to claim that he and Ulrich wrote the song is promptly ludicrous, and more so a flat out fucking lie. I can see Hetfield writing the plodding, Should Not Be-esque beginning and end of the song, but that middle section has the Mark of Dave. I have no idea how this band managed to assign songwriting credits, but the idea of Ulrich coming up with songs is laughable. It is this little fucking troll that can personally be shown to be the anti-metal figure. No, not just because of Napster. Not because of the black album, and Bob Rock, and a thousand other crimes against humanity in the 1990s. He had a hand on THIS album too. Hetfield, by himself, would probably been happy penning silly odes to bludgeonry, a thousand Batteries, each with a slightly lower voltage than the last, and the band would have died its appropriate death by mediocrity. Kublai Khan, anyone? No one's heard of Kublai Khan, and no one should have ever heard of Metallica after 1984 or so. They just got incredibly lucky that Ulrich got kicked out of Metal Church in 1980, and had nothing to do with the east coast scene, where Overkill was busy declaring that they just didn't give a fuck. They just wanted to play live, and repeatedly they compromised their good business sense to continue doing so. Quite a sad thing, that Overkill shot themselves in the face with their selling of their demo to Azra Records for booze money, but when all is said and done, THAT attitude is BY FAR more The Metal Way than anything Metallica could have done. Overkill didn't give a fuck, and just played cranked to 11, finishing their set with Tyrant, and recognising Joey Ramone and Lemmy Kilmister as the twin gods of excess and everything that is right and "fuck yeah!" about the world. Then, there was Megadeth, with Mustaine, who instantly, at the very moment the band was founded, or maybe even before then... when Mustaine was sent back to San Francisco on that four-day bus trip, THAT is when Megadeth became a better band than Metallica would ever be, because Mustaine was right pissed off, and he would outdo, outgun, and outriff the band that had jilted him, because that is the metal way, to be over-the-top and full of dashing creative energy.

Metallica had none of this. Maybe, at the beginning, they had whatever they could steal from their Venom and Diamond Head LPs. Unfortunately, Hetfield probably had his heart in the right place, but he was a complete fucking pussy. He felt the need to declare between songs in 1985 that he would not be saying the words "ooh baby" and wearing lipstick. Paul Baloff took the battle to the other side, issuing an ultimatum to anyone in the crowd wearing a RATT shirt. Bobby Blitz just didn't even mention it, letting the songs do the talking. He was "leaving the poseurs behind". Hetfield just stood on the stage and sulked, because Ulrich was busy cutting his heart out. Ulrich, who had not a whit of songwriting sense to him... he was kicked out of Metal Church in '80 because his drumming was nonexistent at best. He of course had the spark of marketing, where he landed himself a deal on a compilation without a band, or anything other than flyers of Saxon at the Whiskey. And he knew, that the way to make it to the top was not the way of Possessed, because Possessed were too heavy and too rough to be anything but a cult band. He knew that the way to the top was to scheme and to cover one's self in a heavy dose of bullshit. Then, he got lucky, because he had a pal named Hetfield, that really wanted to kill all the record label executives, and combine Hetfield's true extravagance with Ulrich's poseurism, and what you got was a band that appeared to be rebellious. Throw in Cliff Burton's hippie tendencies, and Kirk Hammett's irrelevance, and the image was complete. And at the beginning, the band did have the metal madness, when they wrote silly odes to Weapon like Hit the Lights - empty of social relevance, but completely heavy FUCKING metal. Thanks, Hetfield and Tanner. It's not hard to be a metal kid, and at the beginning, Hetfield was a metal kid. Then Ulrich slowly but surely turned him into a puppet. The album title can be viewed as a proud declaration of Ulrich's conquest of Hetfield, of Metallica, and eventually of the entire scene. The little troll infused mediocrity, and slowly burned the world from the inside out. Hetfield became a raging alcoholic, hanging on to whatever riffs he could remember stealing from Mustaine. Burton's hippie-rock, which was fine for what it is, but had no place in metal whatsoever, soon became the overriding creative force in the band, and of course had to be recognised, because Ulrich knew that if he approved another Hell Awaits, the scene would bury him fast. And of course, it would be ludicrous to imply that he was one-ten-thousandth the drummer the Lombardo was.

So along came Master of Puppets. Random hippie crap, combined with a few random recycled Mustaine moments, all held together by the glue of Hetfield's average riff constructions - perfectly suitable for an average, mediocre, fifth-rate garage thrash ensemble. And Ulrich's megalomania, that realised that this steaming pile of directionless garbage was THE universal solution to bringing him fame. Not that it was any good - precisely because it WASN'T. Because it was mediocre, any idiot with an axe could be like Hetfield now, and if Ride the Lightning sold a whole fuckload of copies, then Master of Puppets, on inertia alone, would sell a whole fuckload more, and thus the seed was set. And that, my friends, is why Lars Ulrich is the worst thing ever to happen to heavy fucking metal.

After the obligatory Mustaine composition comes the long section of hippie crap, that is not only the worst song on the album, but THE final stake through the heart of heavy metal. I hear Orion, and I hear Opeth. I hear a heap of shit that is labelled "progressive" and "visionary", but is really a space-filler. A throwback to the 1960s and the 1970s - stuff that Black Sabbath quickly moved away from, and used only in small amounts. Progressive rock was dangerous stuff, to be used in form only, not in actual substance. Careful with it, and get brilliant stuff like The Writ. Too much results in Fluff. And Iommi was smart to recognise this, but Cliff Burton was not. And he continued to write songs full of this dreck. Ask Hetfield to throw on a few random metal riffs, and what you get is something claimed as "amazing" by all the losers that would also claim In Flames as a masterwork of a band. Of course, this anthem to loserhood has no heart whatsoever, no spirit, no emotional content. Nothing. Thunderhead, this is not. Stargazer? Fuck no. Certainly not anything out of the Diamond Head catalogue. Not Am I Evil, To the Devil His Due, or even Ishmael. Diamond Head got it right, and despite the endless stream of pointers from Lars to their general direction, Metallica did not. But of course, it is easier to derive inspiration from the half-baked. Easy to look at what did not get it right, and claim that to be the best thing ever, simply so that when you make something similar, you can pat yourself on the back and be proud. Thus, Dark Tranquillity, be proud. You sound like complete shit, and have the intensity of zero point zero Iommis, and you are hailed as an excellent modern band. Because you took the Orion approach to things. So, Dark Tranquillity, make sure to send Lars a Christmas card once a year, because you owe your entire career to him. So many bands nowadays do. So many bands would never have gotten off the ground, if "getting off the ground" were not so kindly redefined as "flopping right over and accomplishing nothing" a la Orion.

Then, the last song. Damage Incorporated is the last of Hetfield's contributions to the album... fast and completely insipid. This is not, in any way, shape, or form, to be mistaken for The Burning of Sodom. This is James Hetfield's dying cry as Lars Ulrich finishes him off. In fact, if you look carefully, you can see the exact frame where his heart rips in two. Desperation breeds stupidity, and here is the final desperate act of a man driven to Jagermeister, not because of the grueling tribulations of the road, or of having one's equipment stolen, or because he had to send an ex-guitarist back to the west coast in a box on wheels. It's the final death of a man that thinks he is on top of the world, being the frontman of the most famous heavy metal band in existence... but slowly, subconsciously, realising he is not at all in control, and knowing that he's going to have to put on a smiling bullshit face for however many years, because he certainly can't QUIT the band, but the only way to stay in is to submit to Lars Ulrich, despite all of their public assurances that they are partners in crime. Hetfield is weak, and resorts to over-the-top boasting. Most thrash bands would, of course, do something like this, but somehow none of the Overkill catalogue comes off nearly this pathetic, this fake, this... incorporated. Overkill are rotten to the core in the best sense of the word... Metallica in the worst, most corporate. And at the head of this machine is the midget himself, Lars Ulrich. He holds the world in his hands... his band, his "music", his scene.

Best not to listen, kids. If you have any decency, any individuality, any self-respect. THIS is why I gave the album a zero, because it is the album that will slowly draw you in and destroy you too. Let this be your warning.

"Master of puppets, I'm pulling your strings..."

Reinforcing the genius of RTL - 100%

OlympicSharpshooter, December 31st, 2003

Master of Puppets is one of the greatest albums ever made, and that big 100% up there is all about the quality of the album. Master is certainly important, but most everything here is on Ride the Lightning. Where RTL’s genius is inevitably mixed into my visceral feelings towards the materials, Master is more coloured and shaped by the tremendous regard so many people have for it. For millions of metal heads, this album is it.

"Battery" gives us a nice "Fight Fire With Fire" flashback, and it's really a toss up as to which is more skull-crushing. "Battery" has the advantage of better production though. Anyway, everybody is on their game here. A lot of shredders are kind of same-y, but the "Battery" solo is unforgettable, and the vocal performance on "Battery" is amongst James's most unhinged yet, and would remain so through song after song until perhaps "All Within My Hands" from St. Anger, a song that isn’t anywhere near this level of quality anyway..

Next comes the perennial candidate for greatest metal song ever, usually in a dead heat with "Paranoid", we have "Master of Puppets". This song is just iconic. When you hear the name of this song, you don't ask who did it. You just know. Some of James's most poetic lyrics being barked out over one of their greatest riffs, with performances that could scarce be bettered by any level of technical insanity that would come along since it’s release. A plethora of amazing solos, one by Hetfield, the others by Hammett, the lead axeman giving us some of his best (great "Fade to Black"-alike and the shredder to end all shredders). This song is like a modern "Four Horsemen", grasping those unwieldy tempo changes of "Kill 'Em All" and beating them into shape, forging their (occasionally charming) unpredictability into a cold, logical forge. Metallica made great multi-part epics palatable and sensible, a deed that metallers world-wide should be eternally grateful for. Also worth noting, in head to head battle with the similarly structured "Ride the Lightning" album, most matches are draws. But in the title track war, it's a blow out.

"The Thing That Should Not Be" is a mean bruiser that lumbers about for 6 minutes and miraculously refrains from collapsing in on itself. Hetfield returns to his Lovecraftian interests on this one, with an eerie, eerie vocal performance (esp. live where you can see a certain wildness and paranoia in his eyes) that claws at your head like one of ol' H.P's stories. Brilliant and strange solo from Kirk, and crushing basslines from the immortal Cliff.

"Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" matches "Fade to Black" in beauty, and manages to trump it in 'rawkage', with a true thrash section that feels even heavier because of the massive build-up. The song also features another fucking amazing performance by Hetfield. "The mirror stands back on/natives getting restless now/mutiny in the air/got some death to do". I stand in awe of this man. Bow down. Also a very smart move by the band to make this melodic number stand out more by separating it from the "Master" interlude with the heavier-than-thou "Thing" and following it with the most brutal thrash-fest on the album.

"Disposable Heroes" is often left out in discussions of classic Metallica song, which is a damn shame. This is Lars Ulrich's absolute best performance, propelling that stacatto riff and rhythmic snarl for a good 8 minutes. Another strange (and beautiful) lead break near the opening of this one, before we get to the lyrics. This song is like a panzer assault. It just rolls right the fuck over you, and after listening to this one it all blends together into one big sonic punch in the teeth. And I always feel like taking it again, the only standard that really matters when one comes to plumbing the depths of extreme metal.

After "Disposable Heroes", the righteously heavy "Leper Messiah" always feels like a respite. I'm not sure if they started the trend (and I really doubt it), but Metallica certainly put their stamp on the now classic "rant-at-bad-preachers" concept ("Holy Smoke", "In the Name of God", "Miracle Man"). Another pounding Ulrich performance, and one of the tougher vocal melodies on the album(took me some time to get that chorus down). A shorter number, and an oddly dissonant one, but it's just as classic as the rest, despite rumours that Mustaine wrote it. It’s not very Dave-like anyway.

"Orion". As if you don't know it already, Metallica can write beautiful music ("Four Horsemen" interlude, "Fade to Black", "Master" interlude, "Sanitarium"). But this one is so pure and spaced out that it's practically heart-wrenching. It's fun to listen to this in the black and think of the cosmos as Burton shines through for once, his warped Thin Lizzy-ish solo's elevating this instrumental to new levels. Also look for another fine Hetfield solo, and Kirk Hammet's best homage to his former teacher Joe Satriani. Oh, and the uptempo bit rocks pretty nicely too. It’s gotta be said that Metallica is key in bringing the classic prog sound back into metal, the psychedelic fringing that would give birth to acts like Voivod and Amorphis, one of the Black Sabbath traits that few bands had dared to co-opt into their own sound.

And last, but not least, Metallica's "Kill 'Em All" throwback "Damage Inc.". Elsewhere we've seen insightful lyrics and beautiful streamlined music...well, that stopped one song back buddy. After the beautiful Burton intro (damn those icy roads!), Metallica goes shred crazy, James vomiting forth propaganda like a good Metal Militiaman. Gotta love that whispered chorus amongst the sonic chaos, the hushed and frantic quality of it simply adding to the high-tension wire freak-out feel of this apocalyptic closer.. The whole band is operating at 11, with James's most forceful performance yet and some dizzying tempo's(plus, Lars is going so fast it even tired out Mike Portnoy performing it live!). Harkens back to a simpler time really, and an interesting way to close an album full of drama and scale, keeping the fans happy with the uber-thrash that brought them into the building.

The third home run in a streak of 5 total classics in a row, something only perhaps Black Sabbath was able to match.

Stand-Outs: “Master of Puppets”, “Disposable Heroes”, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”

The Benchmark - 100%

Pyrus, June 2nd, 2003

As cliche as it sounds, I am going to say it anyway - THIS IS THE BEST METAL ALBUM EVER. It is the standard against which I measure every other album I listen to, and so far nothing has toppled it, and few have even come close. You should already have heard and worshipped this, but just in case you need a bit more convincing, permit me this exercise in over-the-top, effusive praise. After all, I need to set my standard.

Okay, basically, every track on this album fucking rocks. The closest things to filler on here, "Leper Messiah" and "The Thing That Should Not Be," would be top spots on almost any other album–the Mustaine-influenced middle section of "Messiah" shreds, and "Thing" makes up for its plodding tempo with sheer crushing heaviness. But here, they pale in comparision beside the perfectly crafted thrashing madness of "Damage Inc." and "Battery," the madhouse anthem "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)," and the driving epic power of "Orion." And those aren't even the best–that honor goes to the legendary title track, which should require no description, and the EVEN BETTER "Disposable Heroes"–eight and a half minutes of fast-paced, dynamic speed/thrash in easy contention for greatest song ever.

There's not much I can say...the rhythm guitars are razor-edged enough to skin the unwary listener alive. The lead guitar is pure emotional brilliance mixed with just enough shred to keep up the pace. The drums are perfectly done; the thing that made Lars Ulrich a good drummer back in the day was not his admittedly mediocre playing, but his perfect sense of musicality. Every crash, every fill, every tempo change is exactly where it should be, and doesn't detract from the rest of the music. The bass is just this side of a goddamn lead guitar, and the vocals mix melody, power, and anger in one of the best recorded thrash performances.

I will be the first to admit that there are thrash albums that are more complicated, more technical, more riff-heavy. But this, this is craftmanship. Metallica takes reasonably simple (for thrash, anyway) riffs and song structures, and then fucks around with them just enough to keep the music interesting. Things like the double-kick breakdown of "Leper Messiah," the machine gun pre-solo section to "Battery," the post-solo scales in the the title track, and the mulitple time changes of the closing solo to "Sanitarium" are what make this album not just great, but THE GREATEST.

I could go on. I could go on for hours, because the thing about this album is that after three and a half years of owning it, I can still listen to it and go "OH MY FUCKING GOD." It's an example of what happens when you combine really good musicianship (and make no mistake, Metallica were at the top of their game back in 1986) with really good ideas; a triumph of songwriting that sets a standard that has yet to be topped.

Buy Puppets. Listen to Puppets. Bow to Puppets. Thank you and goodnight.

Truly a classic. - 85%

Nightcrawler, February 24th, 2003

I'd like to start this review out with a praise to Cliff Burton, a bass-virtuoso, showing his finest hour on this very album. After reading an article about the night he died in my own home country, and also reading the very last interview with the bass genius, I felt like listening to this album, and after playing it I realized I gave this much less credit than it deserved. Despite the lack of Dave Mustaine riffs to use, they manage to come up with some bonecrushing monster thrashing (though this was the last album where they did so), and they mix it up perfectly with some emotional mellow pieces all over the album providing great variety and adding more effect to the heaviness. For example, that magnificent slower piece just before the solo of "Battery", brilliant shit.
On here, they had magnificent ideas and crafted them all into well done songs, and it turned out excellent. On the follow-up, they'd go too far with the fucking around, and I blame the death of Cliff Burton. It can't have been a coincidence that they started sucking as soon as he passed away. Drink lots of vodka in hell, Cliff!

I'm gonna have to point out that there's still one song on here that's pure shit - the dreary, mind-numbing piece of shit called "The Thing That Should Not Be". Great atmospheric basslines from our favorite Clifford doesn't help this song at all, cause the riffs are too few, too uninteresting and too flat. And the song is also way, way too long.
But this is the only actual low point on here, the rest ranges from good to fucking awesome. The album sounds great too, thanks to a rather dry and extremely tight-sounding production job by Flemming Rasmmussen, which goes perfect with the album, and also gives extra depth to the bass, which is as I've already said, nothing short of amazing. Cliff chose not to just play along with the guitars like many, many other thrash bassists, but he created his own lines giving the album another musical level and his work in general coming damn close to a lead guitar sometimes.

His bass guitar is of course most prominent on the 8 minute epic instrumental "Orion", a pretty emotional and rather nicely done piece, which on a musical level contains further great atmospheric work by the entire band, the guitar and bass intertwining on many different levels creating lots of beautiful moments in the song, and listening to this song while looking at pictures from Cliff's last photo session (all that stuff I got from an issue of Sweden Rock Magazine, by the way) is rather creepy. Or weird, or whatever you wanna say.
However, the song isn't that great, cause it shares a problem with "The Thing That Should Not Be" - it's damn long, and doesn't seem to get anywhere, so it gets kinda boring after a while. But if you're in the right mood, it can still get to you pretty damn nice.

The entire album has a rather epic feel to it, with all the mood changes and impressive song lengths, and it's for the most part done really well. The first example of that is in the title track, "Master of Puppets". That one first opening riff is fucking legendary beyond human understanding, and after that we're taken on an 8 minute ride of a riff assault with magnificent slower, emotional moments as well, well depicting the haunting lyrics, dealing with cocaine. Yeah, this song does own.
Another mindblowing epic, and the best song on the album, is "Disposable Heroes". I'm gonna have to praise Clifford Lee Burton even more on this one - the way the fast guitars race against his slower, moody bass and Lars Ulrich's drumming chills you to the bone, building up a truly sinister atmosphere before the song kicks in, and it's all just so fucking well done. And this is when lyrics could write better lyrics than "I'm madly in anger with you", oh yes. One of their best songs, definitely.

The remaining four songs are pretty damn amazing as well. The opening and closing tracks definitely stand among my favourites on here - "Battery" and "Damage, Inc" respectively, both lashing out with crushing thrashage fury, ripping apart everything in their way. "Battery" differs itself with the tasteful acoustic intro, perfectly kicking into the riff attack, and also the slow part before the solo. "Damage, Inc" is the one song on here that remains a bonecrushing heaviness all through, and is a monster thrasher at breakneck speed with the most vicious lyrics ever. "Life ain't for you and we're the cure!" Oh fuck yeah. Or the classic (to which Metallica sadly didn't stay true): "Following our instinct not a trend - Go against the grain until the end!" Still inspiring to all those true metalheads out there not to stray into poserdom like Metallica did after the end of their bassist.

Finally, we have the atmospheric "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", with all it's mesmerizing leadwork and alternating mood and tempos building up to another epic masterpiece, and the slightly weaker "Leper Messiah", still being a damn strong song mostly thanks to the orgasmic melodic section leading up to the magnificent solo. Quality stuff there, and the song also brings in some pretty damn good riffage.

But still, the best on here is "Disposable Heroes", closely followed by "Master of Puppets", "Battery" and "Damage Inc". So yeah, half of the album are total fucking classics, and only one of the remaining four is actually bad. "Master of Puppets" is not quite as good as "Kill 'Em All" or "Ride The Lightning", but any Metallica album with Cliff Burton in the lineup is still absolutely essential in any metalheads collection.

Cliff Burton's swansong. - 96%

raZe, October 28th, 2002

1986 was one of the finest years ever for metal. Maiden released “Somewhere In Time”, while Slayer released “Reign In Blood”. Just as important, though, is that Metallica released their third album “Master of Puppets”. It is now regarded as one of the finest metal albums in history, which is no mean feat. “Master of Puppets” is the last album with bass genious Cliff Burton, who would be killed in a bus accident mere months after this album’s release. He died while he was at the top, at least.

Battery starts the album. The same procedure as last album is used here. Accoustic guitars opens the song, in kind of a Spanish flavor, before a galloping riff kicks in. Then the song goes mental. It’s a fast and thrashy killer of a song. Lars is playing ‘shit’ as always, a personal style I like very much, while Hetfield and Hammett rips and shreds all the way. Burton is also there somewhere, although drowned in the drums and guitars. The solo is great, and the song as a whole is one of Metallica’s best. Track two is ‘Master of Puppets’. The legendary ‘Master of Puppets’. The opening riff is Hetfield at his best, a real ripping of the guitar. The song is about narcotics, and how it is to be addicted. There are some very skillful play on words and expressions in this song, making the lyrics quite impressive. The bridge and chorus (or is that chorus and post-bridge?) is so good it brings tears to the eyes. “Come crawling faster! Obey your master!” Great stuff. This goes on for a few minutes, before the song suddenly calms down. This is my favorite part of the song. Hetfield and Hammett plays a beautiful dual guitar solo. Well, on the album Hetfield plays the whole thing. Without doubt his best solo. Then comes the group-shout part of the song (just like in Creeping Death), before Hetfield screams “fix me!” and Hammett plays a frightenly fast and fantastic solo. Then a little more excellent guitar-playing before the song settles into the third verse. There’s much to say about this song, but that should be enough. It’s a perfect song, that much is clear.

‘The Thing That Should Not Be’ is much more slow-paced than the two songs before. It’s based on H.P Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos. While the song is very good, and features some bottom-heavy rhythm guitar play, it’s a bit slow for its own good. There’s really not anything bad about it, but sometimes, for some reason, it gets a bit boring. One thing I should mention, though, is the twisted guitar solo by Hammett. This is some of his greatest work, and very original. Actually, copming to think of it, this song is better on S&M. Hetfield’s voice on that version is much more twisted, and the added end lead play by Hammett is mystic and wonderful at the same time. ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’ is the ballad. Or rather semi-ballad as it speeds up halfway through. I actually like this one more than the title track. It begins with a wonderful accoustic intro, followed closely by an even more wonderful solo. The intro creates a mystical feel, something the verse also keeps up. There’s a really great feeling in this song. The chorus is more aggressive, but not brutal in any way. The second solo is also great, with some dual harmonies here and there (drool). The fast second half of the song is ripping, and makes you want to bang your head out of its socket (!), especially when the Hammett-solo comes.

The second half of the record starts with ‘Disposable Heroes’, which is about the uselessness of war. A great fast, raw and ripping thrashy song, one great moment after another, BUT…but it’s too long. I seldom say that about a song, but in this case I must. I mean, the riffs are excellent, the chorus is total blackout orgasm, the drums are ‘shit’, but it’s repeated one too many times. It’s over 8 minutes long. 6 minutes would’ve been enough. Well, I guess thrashmaniacs will love it regardless, and I still love it. “Back to the front!” Track number six is ‘Leper Messiah’. I know this is an incredibly popular song, but it’s my least favorite off the album. Still, it’s a good song, just not one I listen to very often. I’ve heard Mustaine made the main riff, so maybe that’s why I’m unable to love the song…The fast section is kickass, though. The best track on the album is actually an instrumental! ‘Orion’ is perhaps the most beautiful song Metallica have made, and Cliff’s finest moment. There are countless different riffs, leads and patterns in this piece of music, it’s incredible, and ALL of them are fucking fantastic! Midway through there’s a moment with only bass, and that’s the section I’ll always remember Burton for. While the first half of the song is perfect, the second half is simply heavenly! I’m almost crying now, listening to it. The nice thing is that it fades out, so in a way it never ends.

Well, enough of this sappy crap. The last song is ‘Damage, INC.’ It begins with strange, brooding guitar noises, and then suddenly, after one and half minute, it reveals itself as a fast thrashy song, much like ‘Battery’. The chorus is excellent; ‘Blood will follow blood!’. Great stuff. Someone think of this song as a filler, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. It stands powerful on its own, with a most excellent guitar solo. Of course, it may seem kind of simple, after complex songs like ‘Orion’ and ‘Disposable Heroes’, but it ends the album in a nice fashion, leaving you wanting for more.

That was the whole album. The production good, but it’s kind of dated, like 80’ish. You shouldn’t have a problem with that, though. Not much more to say, really.