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

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

"Master of Puppets" Is Considered by Many Metallica Fans to be Metallica's Finest Album

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

Master of Puppets is actually a hybrid of thrash metal along with melodic elements such as in the song “Master of Puppets.” There is that middle section that is classically influenced and this is because of the influence of Cliff Burton.


Analysis of the Songs "Battery" and "Master of Puppets" the Title Track

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

"Disposable Heroes"

About the Song "The Thing That Should Not Be"

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

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"Disposable Heroes" and "Leper Messiah"

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

"Leper Messiah"

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

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

Favorite Song On Master of Puppets

The Legacy of "Master of Puppets"

Master of Puppets is one of the best metal albums of 1986 and all time. It is one of those albums that metal fans will never forget as we are now into 2022. This is one of the best albums ever made by the best US heavy metal band! Metallica has been active for over 40 years and five separate decades and they are still going. They would once again go back to their original heavy roots with Death Magnetic in 2008. But Master of Puppets seems to be the album considered by many Metallica fans to be their finest work. In the opinion of this writer, it is not their finest work but it is pretty darn close. For an avid Metallica fan, it would be reasonable to assume or to even conclude that one of the first four releases by Metallica is their best work. Master of Puppets became accepted as the heavy metal genre’s most accomplished album. If the album Kill ‘em All didn’t bring Metallica out from the metal underground, Master of Puppets certainly did.

Like its predecessor album Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets had that melodic feeling in a direct departure from the band’s debut album. Master of Puppets can be considered a genre defining album for thrash metal and it also is Cliff Burton’s most masterful performance as well.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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