Released in 1986 to wide acclaim of fans, Master of Puppets
was Metallica's third album. While their two previous efforts were solid thrash albums, they merely hinted at what they would achieve with this great record. It's the epitome of metal and thrash at it's peak. It was also the last album to feature the classic lineup, with bassist Cliff Burton dying later on the following tour in a tragic bus accident. Running just under fifty-five minutes and featuring eight tracks of non-stop great riffs and killer solos, Master of Puppets
is an album for the ages.
The first track, Battery
, starts off with a slow, classical guitar intro. Another guitar joins and the intro continues. A few more guitars join until it heads right into the meat of the song. Guitars get kicked in the face with distortion and play the intro a few times. Then they go to speedy riffing, as Lars brings in some drums to move the song along. James adds his vocals to the mix, and they are much, much improved since their last two outings. "Battery!" shouts James, as a short solo bit follows. "Smashing through the boundaries/Lunacy has found me/Cannot stop the battery" he says, as guitars speed away behind him. There's a break now as things slow down. Another guitar comes over the top and plays a bit. Then it goes into full on solo mode as Kirk rapes his strings until they squeal in pain. Double bass from Lars joins the changing riff as they go back into the verse. "Can I kill my family?/Battery is found in me" is sang, followed by the repeating of "Battery!" a few times. This leads into a slight change and guitar speeds up a bit. Some final crashes and guitar strums end the track decisively. One of my favorite tracks here, and is also the perfect opening song for this album. It gives you a taste of what's to follow, and is great in it's own right.
The title track, Master of Puppets
, is up next. This marks my favorite non-instrumental track, and probably the best song here. Starts with the famous riff sounding like "Dun.. dun dun duhhhh!" Sorry about that description but it's fairly accurate. That riff is repeated a bit, with Lars adding some accents. A change in guitar as the drums come in full time happens here, as they jam a bit. Yet another change, as the guitars go faster and the vocals come in. Lyrics here deal with cocaine addiction and ways it becomes your "master." This is further supported by "Taste me you will see/More is all you need/Dedicated to/How I'm killing you!" Then it goes into the chorus, with lines such as "Master of puppets, I'm pulling your strings/Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams/Blinded by me you can't see a thing." Some more riffing follows as it goes into the verse again. "Chop your breakfast on a mirror!" leads into the bit before the chorus with the guitar change. A chorus and then it goes into a melodic break from riffing. Some good bass work from Cliff and some good guitar lines from Kirk and James. Lars' drums serve their purpose as the guitar goes all solo-like. It's not a speed solo, though, and it sounds great. Some tom work the heavy distortion comes back. "Master! Master! Where's the dreams that I've been after?" asks James as it goes into finger blistering solo time. One of their greater solos, this one won't disappoint. Afterward, there's some chunky riffing as Lars smacks away on his skins. A return to the main riff as it launches into a final verse. "I will run through you/Now I rule you too!" goes into the bridge. A chorus follows and is followed by some final jamming before the song ends with several voices laughing in an evil fashion.
The Thing That Should Not Be
is up next and is my least favorite track of the album. That's not to say it's bad, though, it's just not quite up to the same level as the other songs. It begins with some deep guitar and hat notes. It then goes into a chunky, down-tuned riff. A little variation leads into the verse. "Dark deception kills the light" leads back into more of that heavy riff, before slowing down for a bit more vocals and leading again into riffage. A break with lots of tom work and then it's back to a slightly altered version of the main line. "In madness you dwell" goes into a bit of jamming, but then it's back to verse/riffing time. "He watches/Lurking beneath the sea.." goes into some deep, chunky guitar. Then there's a solo from Mr. Hammett. Certainly not his best work and possibly unneeded, but it works. This leads into some more jamming before adhearing to the formula. "Drain you of your sanity/Face the thing that should not be" precedes the chorus of sorts. After that, some strangely distorted riffing fades out to end the track. Fortunately, the other songs here are so great that even a skippable track such as this one doesn't bring it down.
The token balad at track four is next, in form of Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
. Starting with some almost haunting plucked strings, it soon leads into the main hook. Lars brings in his rock beat and they chug along for a bit until a mini-solo comes in. Vocals come in with "Welcome to where time stands still/No one leaves and no one will." This helps you to realize (if you didn't already) that this song is about a.. well, sanitarium. The song gets a bit heavier leading into the chorus, which is where the heavy guitars come back. "Sanitarium/Leave me be/Sanitarium/Just leave me alone" leads into another one of those little interlude solos and is a welcome addition. "Whisper things into my brain/Assuring that I'm insane" is sang next. This song is a prime example of how much the vocals have improved here. "They see it right, they see it well/But they think this saves us from our Hell" leads into distorted guitars and the rocking chorus. The song changes here, as it gets heavier and the guitar gets faster along with the drums. "Kill is such a friendly word/Seems the only way for reaching out again" leads into another one of Kirk's super speedy solos. It's a treat to my poor ears and adds to the song well. Now there's some dual riffing as they jam out to their little heart's content. Lars adds double bass as there's another solo, this one not as fast, but sounding just as good. They slow things down bit by bit and Lars goes crazy (or as crazy as he can go) for the end.
The war-themed Disposable Heroes
is up next. It jumps right out of the gate with tom hits, crashes, and riffing. After the nice intro, it changes and slows down a bit. That doesn't last long though, as the speedy riffs make a comeback. This launches into the verse. "No one to play soldier now/No one to pretend.." leads into another speedy part featuring good lyrics. "Soldier boy/Made of clay/Now an empty shell/Twenty-one, only son/But he served us well" is a memorable line. A mini-solo occurs here, as it goes into the chorus featuring the repeated line "Back to the front!" Another verse follows, and leads into more speed riffing. More mini-solo and then it's off to the chorus. "Back to the front!/You will do what I say/You will die when I say you must die!" is featured. Then it goes into a break and slows down slightly. After some vocals is a killer solo that goes on for quite a while. This is not to say it's too long, though. It's quite the opposite, and makes a welcome addition to this eight minute song. Another break ends with "I was born for dying!" and more speed riffing. Back to the verse, with "Looking back I realize nothing have I done/Left to die with only friend, alone I clench my gun." The speedy break happens again, and then there's a solo-ish bit of guitar action. "Back to the front!" shouts James as the last chorus plays out. He repeats it a few times as the guys jam out and then go back into the first quick riff. Some crashes and repeated notes make it seem like it's going to end, but then it goes back to the riff for a short time before ending on some crashes and guitar notes.
is next, and is one of my favorite tracks here. It begins with a stray bass note and James counting to five before the band comes in thrashing away. They repeat an intro bit a few times and then go into the main riff with Lars doing a few fills here and there. Then it changes and has a few quick strums and then some audible bass. Another change and some more fills. Vocals come in here with "Spineless from the start/Sucked into the part." After the verse, there's some double bass and then it goes right back into another verse. "Bow to Leper Messiah!" leads into a bit of jamming before returning to the verse. After, there's more double bass and another verse with a slightly altered drum beat. More double bass and then the chorus with the jamming that follows. A break happens here, and everything slows down with some high notes on guitar and crash accents. Soon after, they go into speed mode as Lars throws in bursts of double bass and the riffs are hammered out in true metal fashion. A bit of vocals and then a wonderful guitar solo. It's shortlived, though, and leads into more jamming with double bass bursts and quick riffing. Some fiddling around and then James shouts something repeatedly before it breaks down to the starting riff. A few seconds of that and then you can faintly hear someone say "That was it." They play a few final notes and end the song.
Up next is the instrumental of the album, Orion
. This is not only my favorite song of this record, but probably my favorite Metallica song ever. It's surprisingly musical and just sounds so great. It starts off by fading in some distorted bass and soon Lars drums fade in as well. A little fill and the chunky, distorted guitars come in with a wonderful riff. Soon after, there's a break with some bass flailing away with chunky guitars over it. Then they return to normal bass with riffs going on as they should and Lars' rock beat holding it all together. A return to the opening riff occurs here, and is soon joined by some high-pitched guitar over top. A solo takes up company here and wails away. Things slow down a little and then go into silence. From that emerges a lone bass line with guitar accents over it before a long guitar note comes in along with drums. This repeats a couple of times and sounds good every time. Soon it goes away and the guitar changes while Cliff still thumps away at his bass. Now the guitar goes to more of a steady rhythm and you can still hear Cliff under it all. The guitars build up until there's the most wonderful solo bit. So melodic, so wonderful, so... great. After there's the greatest Cliff moment in any Metallica song: his killer, distorted bass solo. These two moments combined are the greatest parts of the entire album. So incredibly awesome. After, they go back to thrashing, with a squealing guitar over some quick drums. This continues until it fades away into silence, just the way it came in.
The final track, also one of the fastest, is next. Damage, Inc.
is the name, and speed metal is the game. It starts off with a Wah intro from Kirk. It's a nice touch and works well. That lovely intro ends and soon fades in some guitar notes along with snare. A roll on said snare brings out the speed riff. Lars bashes away to match speed and they jam a bit. Vocals come in with the verse and are half-shouted. James whispers "Damage, incorporated" and then the beginning of the riffs is repeated. Another verse follows, and is speedy as usual. "Honesty is my only excuse" says James as guitars riff away. Another whispering of the title and then there's a break. They slow down a bit, along with the vocals. One more whispering, followed by "Go!" and then Kirk just plain molests his strings. It's just wrong. I feel sorry for those poor strings. Anyway, he solos away like a madman for a bit until they return to the verse. Lars double basses as James fires off line after line. "Fuck it all with fucking no regrets/Never happy endings on these dark sets!" spits James as Lars kicks away. "Damage, incorporated" whispers James. A few final notes from guitar and snare and then it's ended in silence. A wonderful ending to the perfect metal album.
If you like metal, or even any type of heavy music at all, you owe it to yourself to go out and buy this now
. This is a metal masterpiece. From the riffs, to the solos, to the melodic interludes, it's all great. Metallica's best work by a mile. If you don't like metal, then go ahead and check this out anyway. You may even learn to like it. It's a fucking classic.
(+)Music is top-notch
(+)Songwriting skills have improved
(+)Vocals and lyrics and drastically improved from previous works
(+)Solos are wonderfully done
(+)It's damn good metal
(-)May be too heavy for some listeners
(-)The Thing That Should Not Be
isn't as good as the rest
(?)Why'd you have to go and make this, so that all your following albums would be compared to it and deemed inferior?
1. Battery -5:12 (Hammett; Hetfield; Ulrich)
2. Master of Puppets -8:36 (Burton; Hammett; Hetfield; Ulrich)
3. The Thing That Should Not Be -6:37 (Hammett; Hetfield; Ulrich)
4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium) -6:28 (Hammett; Hetfield; Ulrich)
5. Disposable Heroes -8:17 (Hammett; Hetfield; Ulrich)
6. Leper Messiah -5:41 (Hetfield; Ulrich)
7. Orion [Instrumental] -8:28 (Burton; Hetfield; Ulrich)
8. Damage, Inc. -5:29 (Burton; Hammett; Hetfield; Ulrich)