All images courtesy of Getty Images/Metallica Facebook (official)
Metallica was formed by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich in Los Angeles and is now based in San Francisco. The band has been together since 1981. Originally, the lineup included Dave Mustaine who later went on to form Megadeath after being fired from Metallica. The band replaced Mustaine with Kirk Hammett of Exodus on lead guitar and added Cliff Burton on bass replacing Ron McGovney.
The band recorded two albums on Megaforce records (Kill ‘Em All and Ride The Lightning) before the band signed with Elektra Records, and then recorded and released the classic record Master of Puppets. This album has come to be considered one of the greatest Thrash Metal albums of all time. I personally feel it is one of the greatest albums of any genre, to be honest.
The cover by itself is intriguing, a graveyard full of cross-shaped headstones with strings attached. Regardless of whether you had any idea of what Metallica sounded like, you would have had to check it out based on that image alone. On the other hand, it may just scare some people off. Maybe that is the point? Only attract the right people with the cover.
Master Of Puppets consists of eight tracks. All stellar classics. Kicking things off, “Battery” sets the tone. Starting with singular acoustic guitar and then a second acoustic guitar joins in until the heavier electric guitar kick in, and then the song really gets going. The technique of going hard and soft in their songs has been a staple of Metallica through most of their career but I feel they really established that dynamic on this record.”Battery” really lets you know what you can expect from Metallica the rest of the way. The title track “Master of Puppets” comes next, and really is more of the same but is an even longer track. The highlight for me is when the “MASTER” chants come in. An easy sing-along in concert.
Other standouts for me are “Welcome Home (Sanitarium),” “Orion,” and “Damage, Inc.” Even to this day, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium),” “Battery,” and “Master of Puppets” remain staples of their live shows, and this is for an album that is thirty-five years old. This really shows how this album has held up over the years. Master Of Puppets is considered to have launched an era of Metal that included other classic albums such as Megadeth’s Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, Slayer’s Reign In Blood, and Anthrax’s Among The Living. All of which came out the year after Master Of Puppets.
Master Of Puppets has appeared in many best-of lists including Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time, and 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery.
Sadly, bassist Cliff Burton died during The Damage, Inc. Tour for Master Of Puppets in Stockholm when the band’s bus rolled off an icy road, and he was thrown through a window, killing him instantly. He was replaced by Jason Newsted (formerly of Flotsam and Jetsam) until 2001 when Newsted left, and Newsted was then replaced in 2003 by Robert Trujillo (Formerly of Suicidal Tendencies, and Infectious Grooves among others).
With all that being said, Master Of Puppets has stood the test of time, and will be listened to for generations to come.
Please check out my video on Master Of Puppets, by Metallica below:
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