Metallica
Master of Puppets


4.5
superb

Review

by Pedro B. USER (303 Reviews)
May 19th, 2010 | 226 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Undoubtedly a classic, but I'll stick with Ride the Lightning.

Master Of Puppets. Rightfully considered one of the defining records of thrash metal, it somewhat more undeservedly overshadows its predecessor, the damn-near-perfect Ride The Lightning. It was also the album that propelled Metallica to international fame and fortune, and remains to this day one of the most divisive albums in the history of music, with as many detractors considering it an overhyped slab of mediocrity as worshippers considering it the best album ever made. Me? I sit in the middle. There’s no denying Master Of Puppets as a classic, but personally, I’ll still stick with Ride The Lightning. And considering some of the lists I’ve been seeing around Sputnik, I know I am not alone.

It’s hard, however, to pinpoint just why I prefer the 1984 album. After all, there are more similarities than differences between Master and Ride The Lightning. The musical style is about the same - melodic thrash metal peppered with traditional and prog influences – the musicianship is equally tight, if not superior, and the songs are about as strong. Maybe, then, my preference has to do with my dislike for longer songs, of which this has a much bigger number than Ride.

In fact, Master was the album where Metallica assumed their liking for prog music, a tendency which would be exacerbated in the paradigm-shifting …And Justice For All, two years later. Where Ride only had a couple of songs go beyond the seven-minute mark, and only one assumedly long song, at least half of Master is made up of eight-minute epics. Despite the more straightforward thrash blasts bookending the album, songs like the title track, Disposable Heroes or Orion tend to sprawl, incorporating several different sections and tempo changes, as well as a higher acoustic input. When the song itself is strong, as in the aforementioned cases, this ends up not mattering; however, it can at times contribute to the album dragging somewhat.

Don’t get me wrong, though: most of the songs here are either deserved classic (Battery, Master Of Puppets, (Welcome Home) Sanitarium) or fan-favorite lost gems (the crushing Disposable Heroes, Orion, The Thing That Should Not Be). Thrash riffs and headbanging hooks abound, the guitar work is appealing and the bass is unbelievable – it is said that this was Cliff Burton’s defining work, and listening to his work on some of the songs here, it’s not hard to see why. Much like Steve Harris, Burton helped push the boundaries of what could be done with a bass, and listening to his performance here only makes his untimely demise – only months later – that much more tragic. The rest of the instrumentation is serviceable, with Kirk Hammett delivering his usual amount of shredding and Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield keeping time with little fuss. Hetfield’s voice also retains its personalized edge, sitting somewhere between a yelp and a metal croon, if that is conceivable.

Why, then, does Master not appeal to me the way Ride The Lightning did? Well, like I said, maybe it has to do with my low tolerance for long songs. Or maybe it’s the fact that there’s a little more filler than on the previous album. Ride The Lightning ultimately had one song I didn’t like, instrumental The Call Of Ktulu; on Master, the percentage isn’t that much higher, but the fact is there are a few less inspired songs, particularly towards the end. Leper Messiah gets by on some good lyrics and a nice breakdown near the beginning (with Burton’s bass getting some catchy fills in edgewise); however, Damage Inc. is a very pedestrian song, which does little but recycle some of the ideas presented on opener Battery. These two tracks are offset by thrash epics like the title track and moments of beauty such as Orion; however, they also leave a nagging feeling which never goes away.

In the end, then, Master Of Puppets can be described thus: while a definite classic, it comes in a little behind its predecessor in the Metallica marathon. However, it is still a mandatory buy for every self-respecting metalhead, and deserves its place in the pantheon of the genre. Pity Metallica’s career would begin a steady, irrevocable descent from this point on….

Recommended Tracks
Battery
Master Of Puppets
(Welcome Home) Sanitarium
Disposable Heroes



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
May 19th 2010


8245 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review, though too much comparison to RtL imo, and also: was it REALLY necessary to give this another one?

ReturnToRock
May 19th 2010


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, as is my tradition, I'm posting a Metallica review before going to see Metallica live!

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2010


31158 Comments


Last line of the review is incredibly wrong

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

NeutralThunder12
May 19th 2010


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

didnt need this, but ok. I actually prefer Puppets and Justice to this (despite the obvious flaws in justice, it is my favorite Tallica album). Also, Damage Inc is not uninspired.
At all. In fact, Ride the Lightning has more weak tracks than Puppets. Puppets has no weak tracks (the only one that doesn’t measure up to the rest is Leper Messiah, but its still a great song), while RTL had Fight Fire With Fire (seriously don’t like this) and I’m not a huge fan of the overrated “Call of Ktulu”. I think that, as slightly flawed as Justice is, it’s my favorite because 1. It’s the heaviest, most raw, it has the best lyrical content, the best guitar work from Hammet, best drumming from Lars. Some people complain about a few weak tracks, which I love most of, and they also say it’s produced more dryly, which is true, but it contributes to the heaviness. Anyway, I’m just rambling, good review.


Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2010


31158 Comments


I actually prefer Puppets and Justice to this

What review are you reading?

NeutralThunder12
May 19th 2010


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

lol I meant I prefer them to RTL, haha sorry, because he pointed out that his favorite was RTL.

Bfhurricane
May 19th 2010


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review, I also prefer Ride The Lightning, it's my hands down favorite metal album.

FadeToBlack
May 19th 2010


10926 Comments


The Thing That Should Not Be is so boring

Nagrarok
May 19th 2010


8245 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I actually like The Thing That Should Not Be; never understood the hate.

NeutralThunder12
May 19th 2010


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

its a great song. Worst here is Messiah which is still a great song any way. I understand why people take Lightning over justice, but Lightning over Puppets? No.

ConsiderPhlebas
May 19th 2010


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

5. Five. Phive. Phyve.





Good review, though.

Mordecai.
May 19th 2010


8278 Comments


i don't like your reviews

H61
May 19th 2010


270 Comments


offer constructive criticism then

Mordecai.
May 19th 2010


8278 Comments


they are bad

LepreCon
May 19th 2010


4082 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Better than RtL IMO but to each their own, great review, godlike album

Greggers
May 19th 2010


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Leper Messiah is actually one of my favourites off of this, its so underrated.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2010


15979 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ride the lightning > this, but still a great album

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

MUNGOLOID
May 19th 2010


4292 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Leper Messiah is my favorite cut off this album.

Brylawski
May 19th 2010


709 Comments


[img]http://fi.somethingawful.com/fluff/grandmas/3.jpg[/img]

My facial expression after reading any ReturntoRock review

Phrike
May 19th 2010


1691 Comments


yea Leper Messiah is so awesome

@ Deviant
The last sentence is okay, he got it right



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