Album #568 – Master of Puppets

Album #568

Album #568

Master of Puppets is a metal masterpiece. Metallica are in fine form in this album. I have known most of it’s songs for over ten years. But, this was the first time I listened to the classic album from start to finish. The themes discussed on Master of Puppets still relate to society today. It is somewhat timeless in its themes but, it’s production is very 80’s sounding. Echo-y guitars and drums would feel out of place today. But, for those who think metal is dark and evil, they will be surprised to find the humanity and relatability that is present here. This album is also surrounded by tragedy. Original bassist Cliff Burton died in a bus crash as the group were touring to promote the album in Europe. Things would never quite be the same for Metallica. But, this album created a form of metal that wasn’t being seen in the mainstream. Hair metal ruled the airwaves and mainstream rock radio. Metallica took away the glitter and glam, getting back to the genre’s roots. Without Metallica’s success with this album, there would be no Slayer, Pantera, Rage Against The Machine and other metal acts who didn’t fit the hair metal mold. Metallica also proved that like their British counterparts (Maiden, Priest, et al.), they could write songs about real things. Important things. Things that impacted their everyday life instead of a rock star fantasy dreamworld. That is something I can instantly relate to. Today, James Hetfield’s voice is a punchline but back then he was doing something very different. There was anger and aggression in his voice. It was rough, loud and angry. He was not trying to hit the highest note or scream. Instead of being something he wasn’t, he was himself. That is why he is one of my favorite singers. If anything, Bob Rock’s production made Hetfield more of a cliche. The musicianship of the band is also phenomenal. All the members, including Lars, can play. Their virtuosity, especially that of Cliff Burton, is astounding. These aren’t musicians who do things in a half-ass way. Instead of being just noise, their is lots of different emotions throughout the album. It may not be sunshine and rainbows but, Master of Puppets has always made me feel something. The best music and my favorite music always does that. By the time this album was released, Metallica were well on their way. The proof is their opening act slot on a tour with Ozzy Osbourne the same year. Metallica were so good live at this point that they were even better than the performer the audience came to see. Once Metallica finished their set, the audience wanted more!!! Any band or artist that can do that, has my utmost respect.

Overall, I give Master of Puppets, 5 out of 5.

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