Yes we all know Metallica from the radio and the entertainment news, but have you actually listened to Master of Puppets in its entirety? In my opinion (notice I said opinion) This album marked the pinnacle of their success. Master of Puppets released March 3rd, 1986, so I found it suiting to write a review since it has been 30 years since this iconic album was released.
For those who live under a rock and do not know who Metallica is, they are a thrash metal band, commonly associated as the leading act of the Big 4 (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax.) Metallica formed in 1981 and combated the big headed glam metal bands of the 80’s, such as Poison and Motley Crue. Master of Puppets would be their third full length album following Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lightning.
Master of Puppets in comparison to their more “successful” album, The Black Album (aka their self titled album,) is much heavier in many respects. James’ and Kirk’s guitar riffs would be much more dirty throughout this album. At the same time, this album would also feature the clean riffs that would be fairly different for Metallica. We saw a glimpse of this in “Fade to Black,” but most of that song was already acoustic as opposed to clean electric guitar riffs featured in “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” for example. Some of the more well known songs to feature frequent clean riffs include “The Thing That Should Not Be” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” as mentioned above. These clean riffs would become much more common later on for Metallica, which leads me to believe this album is the pinnacle of their success. This album though iconic would have its flaws.
When Metallica wrote Master of Puppets they would introduce a newer style and lose a lot of the raw power featured in Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lightning. Compare songs like “Whiplash” and “Seek and Destroy” from Kill ‘Em All to “Damage Inc.” and “Leper Messiah” from Master of Puppets. The loss of raw power is definitely noticeable. When a band reaches their height like Metallica did, they start to become very “mainstream.” It was not only Metallica that this trend was seen. It is seen when Slayer released Diabolous in Musica or when Megadeth released Risk. The difference between Metallica’s height and Slayer’s and Megadeth’s was Metallica became family friendly. One could argue that the last raw album by Metallica was …And Justice for All and the mainstream door was flung open with the Black Album.
All in all this album provides the audience with some fast riffs and heavy drum beats, but also gives the audience a lack of power compared to Metallica’s first two albums. 30 years later, Metallica is still writing music for the masses, set multiple records, and still known by those who are not “metalheads.”
- James Hetfield – vocals, guitar
- Kirk Hammet – guitar
- Cliff Burton (Rest In Peace 1986) – bass
- Lars Ulrich – drums
- Master of Puppets
- The Thing That Should Not Be
- Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
- Disposable Heroes
- Leper Messiah
- Orion (Instrumental)
- Damage, Inc.