Master Of Puppets


Elektra, 1986

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson



I love the cheesy photo of James Hetfield playing the guitar with teased hair on the CD inlay of this release. It always puts this CD in perspective for me. When this release came out, Quiet Riot was still popular. Poison had released Look What The Cat Dragged In and Cinderella's Night Songs was popular. In the midst of all that, Metallica released the standard by which thrash metal releases ought to be judged. Megadeth's Rust in Peace and Anthrax's Among the Living are right up there in the pecking order, but I give the edge to Puppets. I love Peace and Living - - they are great releases, I mean no disrespect, but Metallica perfected it with this release.

The acoustic guitar opening on "Battery" always has struck me as a diversion. The first time I heard this, I thought, "Huh? I thought these guys were heavy?" Then at the 37 second mark, the electricity begins. By the 1:06 mark, when Hetfield introduces the main riff, I'm sucked into this song. The lyrics blast away, my favorite lyrics being:my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Then the instrumental slower section starts. Ulrich nails his patented quick snare fill and then guitarist Kirk Hammett is off to the races until the 3:46 mark when the band launches a trademark thrash interlude. Another Ulrich snare fill and my jaw is on the floor.

In my opinion, Metallica doesn't get better than "Master of Puppets." Hetfield's lyrics are cryptic but give the listener clues what they are about, "chop your breakfast on a mirror" being the most obvious. This song has never lost its edge. It's one of those songs that you can hear something new in each time you hear it. A masterpiece.

What better way to drag the listener by the gonads than to follow the blistering title track with a slower, more groove-oriented track like "The Thing That Should Not Be." I have no idea what Hetfield is singing about. I defer to the other great minds on the internet for what this song might be.

If you put "Metallica Lyric Theories" in, the first hit is the Insanity Palace of Metallica (IPOM), a great website. If you look for theories about "The Thing That Should Not Be," you end up here, where you can read a lot of interesting theories. My favorite, on this page, is this theory:

A few tracks later, the war-themed "Disposable Heroes," (with the chilling lyrics "You will do what I say, when I say" followed later by the lyrics "I was born for dying.") continues the intensity of this release. The intensity of the band is amazing, playing aggressively for over eight minutes.

The final two songs, the instrumental "Orion" and "Damage Inc." are two of my favorite songs of all time. "Orion" fades in with Ulrich playing a solid backbeat. The interlude slower section of this song is sends chills down my spine. Following that opus, Metallica heads to the climax of this release: "Damage Inc." doesn't make it into the band's set list any more. That's too bad. The song is a template for the perfect thrash song. The interesting guitars, including Hammett's frantic guitar solo, Ulrich's amazingly fast drumming, and Hetfield's potent lyrics: "We chew and spit you out / We laugh, you scream and shout / All flee with fear you run / You'll know just where we come from."

And then, just like the snap of a finger, this release is over. I press "Play" to restart the cycle.

Rating: A

User Rating: A


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