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Metallica - Master Of Puppets CD (album) cover




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4.12 | 742 ratings

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4 stars Greatest Heavy Metal Album of All Time with a few Prog Ideas

I told myself I was never doing another prog related review, but yesterday I listened to MASTER OF PUPPETS in its entirety for the first time in at least 10 years. Given the fact that at one point I had memorized every rhythm part and the majority of the solos on this album, it was like welcoming home your best bud from high school. The thing that struck me was that I'd forgotten how good side 2 is. The 1-2 punch of "Battery" and "Master of Puppets" is absolutely the most iconic opening of any metal album ever made. But the riffs on side 2 are just amazing. The frenetic sixteenths of "Disposable Heroes," the back breaking upbeats on "Leper Messiah," and the guitar feast of "Orion" simply left me aghast. With so many bands that have followed after, it's amazing how few bands even get a few riffs as killer as those, let alone an entire album.

So how does PUPPETS relate to prog? First of all, the boys embraced a higher level of composition for their songs. There are more riffs per song, and a better progression of sections, which makes longer song lengths actually more listenable. The way the parts stack on top of each other is much more intricate than previous efforts where often all the parts were essentially in unison. The title track's chorus is a perfect example of this. Every part has its own place, but they compliment so well that when the entire band comes together on "Master" it's just devastating. The band also took a chapter from one of their idols, Iron Maiden, and utilized harmony guitar parts as an intricate part of their sound. But instead of saving this only for leads, Metallica actually harmonized some of their riffs, leading to a brutal sound that started to break up the power chord fifth formula that dominated metal. Finally, it is on this album that Metallica started to cut up their riffs into pieces resulting in occasional odd time signatures as in one of the title track's 5/8 measure.

There are virtually no weak points on this album, though "The Thing That Should Not Be" is more formulaic and repetitive than the rest of the album. It points back to RIDE THE LIGHTNING with its sea monster theme. In contrast, the lyrics on the rest of the album are almost exclusively more intelligent, dealing with domination, addiction, and plenty of themes on insanity and death. "Disposable Heroes" is perhaps the best song about war ever written. "Back to the front, you will die when I say you must die." It doesn't get much more clear than that. "Sanitarium" is vocally a bit weaker than its predecessor "Fade to Black" but the music is more complex and constructed in a more sophisticated way. Every other song is simply classic.

This album, though amazing, is clearly not prog and so I can't give it a 5 star rating here. It influenced everything metal including prog metal, so I understand some folks need to include it on the site. Regardless of its proginess, anyone with any metal in their blood at all needs to have this album.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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