So I realized something this week. We are now six installments into Classic Albums and we haven’t thrashed it up yet! I can’t believe you guys haven’t screamed bloody murder at me for this. Well, fear not, for today we discuss Metallica’s masterpiece, Master Of Puppets. This is the album that got me into them in 1987. My best friend Joe brought it over, and I really didn’t wanna listen to it, but I relented. Man…am I glad I did!!
After the haunting acoustic intro, “Battery” proceeds to blow your hair back with might and fury. It is a full court press for the entire song. James Hetfield’s cry of, “Cannot kill the family, battery is found in me!” cuts like a switchblade. Title track “Master Of Puppets”, a song about cocaine addiction, is 8:36 of sheer perfection. One of my favorites by the band, and it still burns white-hot live, as is evidenced by their performance of it at the Big 4 show at Yankee Stadium in 2011 (Yep, I was there. Be jealous!). Kirk Hammett’s solos all shred, but this one burns brightest for sure.
“The Thing That Should Not Be” slows things down and allows you to catch your breath, but a change in tempo does NOT mean a change in intensity. The slow, churning riffs are akin to being strapped down and hit repeatedly in the head with a hammer. Brutalizing, especially live. At this point the familiar strains of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium) once again trick you into thinking it’s all going to be ok, and this band can’t hurt you anymore. HAH!! The second half of the song goes 0-60 in your face, and when it’s over, you think, “There’s a side two?!?”
Yis. Yis there is. Another 8 minute epic, “Disposable Heroes” picks up the baton and crosses the Thrash-hold (like that?) with Lars Ulrich’s rapid fire machine-gun drumming. “Leper Messiah” is a simple song about 80’s evangelists who screwed millions out of their hard-earned money, and the message still holds true today.
Early Metallica records are known for having an outstanding instrumental on them, and “Orion” is no exception. The late Cliff Burton’s bass tone on this track is just so cool, there’s really nothing else to say. he owns it. “Damage, Inc.” is the final song, and also one of the best, fastest, and hard-hitting on the album. I dunno about you, but I sure as hell ran around screaming, “Blood will follow BLOOOOOD!!” for weeks afterwards.
Master of Puppets is the album that broke Metallica worldwide, with no airplay, no videos, just good old-fashioned word of mouth. Metalheads spreading the word, and it spread like wildfire to the tune of 500,000 copies in a very short time. Master Of Puppets was also the beginning of my tumultuous love affair with Metallica, a band I publicly divorced in the late 90’s before welcoming them back in 2008 with Death Magnetic. But in 1987 this band was firing on all cylinders, and could do no wrong. THIS should be everyone’s introduction to Metallica, and one of the first metal albums in any collection.