Master of Puppets (1986)

Metallica fans are extremely loyal, yet amazingly fickle. Most of the ones I know consider Master of Puppets, Metallica’s third album, to be their best, and it appears on numerous publications’ “greatest of all time” lists. If you have the slightest interest in metal,  listen to it and you’ll see why. 

While bands like Ratt, Poison and Mötley Crüe were releasing records during the same period, it was sometimes hard to get past the big hair. Metallica had the hair (sans makeup), but just played louder and better.

Master of Puppets opens with “Battery,” a five-minute assault on your senses. Acoustic at first, it soon transitions into James Heftield’s large vocals and Lars Ulrich’s eardrum-bursting drumming that’ll carve you up like a machete. “Master Of Puppets” is Kirk Hammett shredding his guitar. I don’t know who coined the term “thrash metal,” but this song fits the bill. I would be beaten up by Metallica fans if I didn’t mention Cliff Burton, one of the superior metal bass guitar players who ever lived. His contribution to this band (Puppets was his last album) was enormous.

“Sanitarium” is a metal ballad but still manages to showcase Hammett’s acoustic side. “Disposable Heroes” was one of the band’s many politically charged tracks. How anyone can play this on guitar is beyond me (and “Rock Band” the video game doesn’t count). “Leper Messiah” is proof that these guys can sound like Black Sabbath and Motorhead at exactly the same time. “Damage, Inc” was written by all four members of the band.

Sadly, Burton was killed on the tour promoting this record in September of 1986 while the band was traveling in Sweden. Metallica have had two bass players since Burton’s death. (Dennis Donahue)

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