Review Summary: Metallica release an album that frowns down upon all other thrash albums, yet is it really as good as it seems?Master of Puppets
is hailed as one of the best metal albums the world has never seen the likes of before. After the instantaneous success of Kill ‘Em All
and Ride the Lightning
Metallica’s new album was held in high expectancy. To most it delivered, yet if you grope your way past the superfluous guitar solos and the insanely brutal riffs, you can find that Master of Puppets
is actually riddled with flaws. This album set the bar-line for all other metal albums to come due to its popularity, but time has seen many superior records released into the general public to no avail.
The riffs within Master of Puppets
are brutal, vicious and extremely thrashy. That being said, it seems as though all the main riffs from songs are tremendously similar to one another. Where Ride the Lightning
has variation, Master of Puppets
lacks the diversity to produce good thrash riffs that don’t resemble each other. The riff contained within the latter stages of “Damage Inc.” closely resembles that of the title track “Master of Puppets.” The ruthless speed of the songs on Master of Puppets
merely carries the illusion that the tracks are exceedingly well written. The reality is that they are purely palm-muted E’s with super-speedy yet simple chords to back it up.
The guitar tone, although already heavy, still lacks that further punch to really create the crunchy tone needed to fine-tune the highly regarded riffs. With a crispier sound to accompany the guitars, Metallica could’ve really added so much more to an album –that on occasions- is lacking a kick. “Battery” could’ve been absolutely ferocious if a crustier tone was equipped.
The solos that accompany every song on the album are quite often bland, dull and rather uninviting. Although, the sheer speed of Hammett’s famous solos creates the misapprehension that he is an extremely skilled guitarist. There is no doubt about it, he is a talented musician, yet not as high up as he is regarded. His solos are generally extremely fast alt-picking on simple scales. “Disposable Heroes,” contains one of these illuminating solos where it is made clear, to all knowledgeable musicians, that he is not the greatest guitarist that ever set foot on this world as many deluded Metallica fans believe. Although for the most part Hammett’s soloing is boring and contains an over-use of the wah effect (especially apparent in “Battery”), he does have some melodic highlights. The renowned phrase during “Master of Puppets,” that contains a particularly melodic solo is an absolutely outstanding piece of song-writing by James and the team. It is followed up with one of the most effect-riddled, dismal pieces of work to ever worm its way onto a Metallica record. However the duelling guitar refrain that ensues makes up for the original quality of the solo.
Master of Puppets
really lacks an effective ballad, which could’ve easily added so much more to the record. Although “Welcome Home Sanitarium,” is a decent song (for the most part), it deficiencies the ambience that the hit “Fade to Black,” contained. The guitar melodies that succeed the clean refrains detract from the attempted atmosphere, and are a nuisance throughout the entire song.
James Hetfield is regarded as one of the greatest metal singers to ever man a band. His singing in Master of Puppets
is a contradiction to this statement: it’s bland and sounds strained during the faster occasions of the album. When brutal triplets are laid down on “Lepper Messiah,” his vocal effort is at its weakest, although it thankfully only lasts a short period of time. His lyric-writing also needs some serious work, at times the words he sing seem rather incoherent and lack a certain ability: to make sense. With the exception of the lyrically superior “Welcome Home Sanitarium,” there is not much to come out of Master of Puppets
lyric-wise except for drivel.
”Crashing through the boundaries/Lunacy has found me”
. This refrain from the chorus of “Battery,” although rhythmically sound, makes no sense whatsoever.
The musicianship on this album, although in some ways is effective, for the most part is simple and dull. The bass-work by Cliff Burton isn’t a factor throughout most of the album with the exclusion of “Orion,” where he really stands up as one of metals best bass guitarists. The rhythm guitar-work by Hetfield is up to scratch, and there is no doubting his skill on that instrument certainly adds to the overall brutishness of Metallica. The drum-work is nothing extraordinary; in fact on a few occasions Lars Ulrich is merely playing a rapid version of a polka drum beat to accompany the thrashing guitars.
Master of Puppets
is and always will be held in high regard by music critiques around the world, yet what they lack the ability to see is apparent if you stare deep enough into the music. It is at stages bland, dull and simply over-exerting the skill of guitar duo James and Kirk. Although the highlights within Master of Puppets
are apparent, so are the low ones.
+ Hetfield and Burton play very well
+Master of Puppets has a great melodic solo
-Song-writing overrated and similar to all the other songs
-Solos drawn-out and over-use wah
-“The Thing That Should Not Be,” is a compilation of all their imperfections