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Metallica Master Of Puppets album cover
4.13 | 856 ratings | 44 reviews | 51% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Battery (5:12)
2. Master of Puppets (8:35)
3. The Thing That Should Not Be (6:36)
4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (6:27)
5. Disposable Heroes (8:16)
6. Leper Messiah (5:40)
7. Orion (8:27)
8. Damage, Inc. (5:32)

Total Time 54:45

Line-up / Musicians

- James Hetfield / lead vocals, rhythm & co-lead (2,7) guitar
- Kirk Hammett / lead guitar
- Cliff Burton / bass, backing vocals
- Lars Ulrich / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Don Brautigam

CD Elektra ‎- 60439-2 (1986, US)
CD Elektra ‎- 60439-2 (1995, US) Remastered by George Marino

Thanks to ? for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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METALLICA Master Of Puppets ratings distribution

(856 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(51%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

METALLICA Master Of Puppets reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by CCVP
5 stars Going in the right direction

Master of Puppets, although not being Metallica's first step towards progressive metal, is their most important step towards progressive metal. Here, they clearly go beyond the somehow raw thrash metal they presented us in Ride the Lightning and put together an album that pushes away the boundaries of thrash metal and is often hailed, together with Slayer's Reign in Blood, as the best thrash metal album ever and, as far as thrash metal goes, it is hard to disagree (although i think that Metallica's magnum opus was ... And Justice for All).

Maybe it has that much fame because it is Metallica's half way to progressive metal: it is already more complex and elaborate than the previous albums, making its quality go up, and it is not too complex nor elaborate as ... And Justice for All, making it easier to listen. Because of its popularity, Master of Puppets is Metallica's most influential and important album, although its not their best selling album.

Master of Puppets also is, sadly, the last Metallica album with the bassist Cliff Burton, who died a horrible death wile touring with the band, soon after this album was released. It can easily be said that Master of Puppets was a worthy goodbye document left by Cliff.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

the good points of this album, much like Ride the Lightning and ... And Justice for All, starts right at the opening song. Battery is just an absolute classic in metal and deserves to be so, just like the next song, the title track, is and deserves to be.

Although the album is mainly a thrash metal album, there are some softer song, like the ballad Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and the instrumental epic Orion.

The musicianship here is almost pure thrash metal. Good thrash, but thrash anyway. The music is more straightforward than in ... And Justice for All, although being just as long. This is because the songs have more ideas put in them, instead of some ideas being extensively worked, like happens in the next album.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Does it really needs more explanation? The album is awesome, its an absolute classic and has a wide influence among metal in general. 5 stars, and that's final.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Master of Puppets' is one of the best metal abums in history, along with Slayer's 'Reign in Blood', Iron Maiden's 'Powerslave' and Megadeth's 'Rust In Peace'.

Every track is a killer with innovative guitar riffing, stop start precision timing and lengthy instrumental sections with a progressive feel. While the album is not purely prog, there are moments that trangress into this territory.

The time signature changes of 'Battery''s brutal riff and the title track's instrumental section and bizarre time signatures surely must rate highly as the best of progressive metal. Both are instant classics are undisputed live favourites. There is not much more to say about these songs - quintessential Metallica and utterly brilliant.

'The Thing That Should Not Be' has a chunky off kilter rhythm and is pure bliss.

'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' has a metrical pattern that moves from light and dark tones and is regarded as a classic. Hetfield's vocal performance shows his dexterity as a singer, that would later be emphasised on 'The Black Album'.

'Disposable Heroes' is an 8 minute journey into the mind of the war hero, a common theme in their work, such as 'One' - the soldier who returns from hell to a new hell - disposable and wasted.

'Leper Messiah' features innovative riffs that disturb the ear as they move in patterns that never seem right but Metallica makes them right. I just love how the band takes metal to a new level with their virtuoso musicianship.

A real highlight is the instrumental 'Orion' that is as progressive as anything they have tackled. It was a track I used to shun or avoid when I was a metal head in the 80s, but I can actually appreciate the nuances and texture of this now that ranges from acoustic beauty to relentless fury. Magnificent! The album finishes with the breakneck 'Damage, Inc' to remind us that they are speed thrash masters.

In conclusion, this is as about as good as it gets. 'The Black Album' would surpass this in later years, but this was the beginning of true greatness from arguably the most influential metal band, Metallica.

Review by progrules
4 stars The one thing we are not going to do here is discuss what this band is doing on our site. We have our forum for that and I think that is a good rule. But just about as I say this I realize this is more or less the bands most "progressive" effort at least prog (metal) related that is.

The album starts with Battery and does it in a quiet way with some acoustic guitar in the beginning. This doesn't last long because the rest of the song is a nice piece of metal (3,5). Next up is the title track and this is one of the songs that made the band famous. Here it's the other way around. The song starts metal-like until at 3.40 a quiet passage starts and lasts for appr. 1,5 minutes. The rest of the track is again more metal-like.(4*) Third song is The thing that should not be and is a heavy song throughout, sounds pretty ok to me (3,25*). Welcome home (sanitarium) is another one with a slower more quiet start getting heavier later on. There's quite a bit of melody here (3,5*).

The B-side: (oh excuse me, this is the digital of course), the 5th song is Disposable heroes is a song about war and begins with an instrumental part before it ends up in a more or less Metallica standard, but this standard is pretty high as far as I'm concerned. Nice guitarwork by Hammett (3, 75*). Leper Messiah is the least impressive of the album to me but is still a very good song (3,25*). Next is instrumental Orion and maybe one of the songs that made them deserve a place on PA because Orion is one of the most progressive songs I know by this band. Great track (4*). Last but not least is Damage inc., a fast metal track, also sounding very much ok to me (3,5*).

All in all a great album and I found out one of the if not the most favourite for the fans. Counting all ratings/8 I come to an average of 3,6 and knowing the significance of this album for the bands history and for metal in general I have no problem rounding it up to 4 stars.

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Master Piece

Kill 'Em All redefined what Heavy Metal could be - it was a major landmark in the history of the music. It really could be Progressive as well as Metal.

Ride The Lightning was the ultimate affirmation of this principle - the major appeal of the music is for Metal fans, but it is unquestionably the first Progressive Metal album proper, in terms of musical achievements.

Master of Puppets, then, is the benchmark against which all Prog Metal can be compared.

Everything is there - nothing missing from any list of Essential Prog Elements you care to throw at it, and it is Metallica's creative peak - sadly, the last to feature their most creative driving force, bassist Cliff Burton.

Here, Metallica take their already advanced compositional skills to the limit, and never lose their roots - rather, they re-affirm them, as the fastest, heaviest and most complex - yet most melodic band (never mind the label) of the time.

Familiarity has bred a kind of contempt within the metal community, and bands have gone faster, drop- tuned to sound heavier, and introduced advanced playing techniques in order to sound more complex - but in terms of composition (which is where it counts, boys and girls), nothing in the world of metal, Progressive or otherwise, surpasses Master of Puppets to this day. Or Ride The Lightning, come to that.

I'd guess that the songs are familiar to everyone, so I'm going to shy away from descriptions you've read a million times, and dive straight in to the compositional complexities.

The layering technique used in the intro to Battery is much the same as the layering technique used by Les Paul in his early recordings, and is the first metal innovation on this album. It lends a quasi- classical feel to the introduction, for the first Prog link. Not bad for the first few seconds, eh?

Metallica use their patent and progressive developing riff technique to develop the riff texturally - as they did on Ride The Lightning. When the heavy chords crash in (and crash they do!), it's the same chord progression as the acoustic-sounding intro, but the textures are like nothing you've ever heard in metal before (although you've probably heard it plenty of times since in Prog metal). It's like a rich symphony orchestra composed purely of guitars - each voice distinct in the wall of sound, making a valuable contribution to the overal sonic palette to create the ringer - the 5th voice which is the overall sound, along with the subtle harmonics that are created by the combination of frequencies. Each chord is dwelt on exactly long enough to revel in the sonic sumptuousness of it all. And I'm not making this up.

The chord progression is suddenly broken up and fragmented for a 1-2-3-4 introduction to the Battery riff - a riff of awesome, bludgeoning power, almost incomprehensible speed and brain-twisting complexity. Never before has a metal riff wound through so many changes yet felt so natural and become such an instant classic. 8 bars (count 'em) of devilishly playful rifferama. Not content with merely writing the greatest riff of all time, Metallica play with this idea, Lars changing tempo, losing a little time here and there... (never mind!), but producing subtle fills that make the tempo feel like it's shifting.

Then there's the break between verses - did you spot it? It shoots past in a fraction of a second - and then there are all the subtle, yes, subtle changes in the chorus to contend with. There's another verse and chorus - but all the little changes make the piece blast past, almost impossible to comprehend - and explaining perfectly why many people find it difficult to hear this as anything but thrash or noise. It's not - it's many, many leagues above that.

Then everything is torn down for the instrumental.

We're still using the same riff ideas and fragments - the developing thematic material principle is not let up for a second - and let's get this straight, in the world of Metal, Metallica were unique in this compositional approach, which is the fundamental principle of the early work of bands such as King Crimson, ELP, Genesis, Gentle Giant and Yes. That's right, proggers - the music is of the same quality and shares many of the same properties as Classic Prog - and we're only on the first track!

There are many properties missing, of course - there's no Mellotron or Hammond, and Hetfield is no Gabriel - but Can, Camel and Hawkwind, among others, were not famed for their vocals either in the same way that Gabriel was.

I digress... back to the instrumental;

An assertive, classically inspired melody line grows out of a two-chord sucker-punch, as Metallica again revel in the sonic textures, Ulrich providing his patent punctuating drum patterns. This is tidied up with what almost contitutes a fanfare, and the music shoots off into orbit, using a very fast riff fragment idea from the Battery riff, which is rhythmically altered to provide maximum confusion - the ball of spikes hass suddenly turned into a dodcahedron with sharper edges. A return to the open chord idea of before, but extended so that Kirk can make his solo even more melodic leaves the lead guitar and drums exposed for a while, in a masterful turn of development, before Metallica increase the battery further, with an 8-note piledriver of a riff - again, based on the main thematic ideas. This is twisted slightly, Urich yet again punctuating the return to the verse/chorus sections.

That piledriver riff is unleashed again after the chorus - which, like Whiplash before it, is based on a single-word chant inserted at precise accent points in the riff - it's not as easy as it sounds! Back to the pieldriver riff, and Metallica again adhere to Keith Emerson's principle of turning the music upside down - a simple change to the beat and the riff looks up its own... well, it sounds like it's upside down even if it isn't, and it feels faster, where we already feel like we've been going as fast as we possibly can, and the song leaves us breathless.

As you can see, the music here is compositionally even more dense than the incredibly dense Ride The Lightning.

People ask what is Progressive about Metallica.

I ask what ISN'T Progressive about their early albums?

As you can see, there is so much in just the first, simple-sounding track, that a similar analysis of the rest of the material on this album would extend this review to unreasonable proportions.

Highlights on this album, which bursts with highlights and gives you more every time you return to it, include;

- The title track and its' classic main riff, hugely extended instrumental featuring a Classically-inspired breakdown and some of the catchiest tunes in the vocal and guitar lead melodies ever

- Welcome Home (Sanitarium), in which you instantly recognise a large portion of Dream Theater's early influence, and Bleak House's hugely collectible (as a result) minor NWoBHM masterpiece, Rainbow Warrior. Bleak House are well worth investigating further, not simply for this link, but because they are one of the great overlooked - a band that could have been huge had circumstances been otherwise.

- Damage Inc., which proves that it is possible to be faster than Battery and remain melodic, powerful and insanely catchy

- Orion - every other review of this album will be singing this piece's praises, so just assume my voice to be among them, and maybe one day I'll sit down and write a full analysis of this and the other 6 tracks I've hardly mentioned.

Progressive Metal, boys and girls - what it is, where it starts - but hopefully not where it ends. To date, though, it's sadly unsurpassed.


Review by ProgBagel
4 stars Metallica - 'Master of Puppets' 4.5 stars

The most important metal album ever made.

This is one of those albums that will be remembered for anyone that speaks of the genre we know as 'metal'. I think this album is an unbelievable one.because it is old and raw, but is varied quite a bit. The opening track 'Battery' says it all. A slow, awesome acoustic guitar starts it out, soon followed be a blast of drums and power chords, with a melody repeating afterwards, giving an epic feel for the track. The verse and chorus are both fast and powerful, and that guitar solos are pretty good, despite my hatred towards Kirk Hammett's guitar style.

The title track is the best known Metallica song, and everyone who has a guitar knows a line or two from this song. It is a real heavy one from the start but has a legendary breakdown towards the middle, and from there it goes into non-recurring territory for about 5 minutes, a clear masterpiece of music.

'Orion' is an instrumental and clear standout. This is definitely progressive territory, featuring plenty of shifts in the verse and chorus.

Other songs that were great were 'Sanitarium', 'Disposable Heroes' and the eerie ender 'Damage Inc.'. They were all very special tracks except for the uneventful 'The Thing That Should Not Be'.

An excellent piece of music.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Master Of Puppets' - Metallica (9/10)

'Master Of Puppets' has been widely called the 'greatest metal album of all time.' And while my opinion would likely stray from that vote, it would certainly not be 'wrong' to deem it as such. There is high-quality music throughout, and an innovation that was rarely found in the genre at the time.

What suprises me about this album however, is the true progressiveness of it. As Mike Portnoy (drummer of Dream Theater) once said, Metallica may well be the world's first progressive metal band, but no one knows it yet. 'Ride The Lightning' while thrashy and decent, didn't have much progressive style to it, save for one or two songs. 'Master Of Puppets' is a major development for the band however. The sound production is all cleaned up, and there are signs of real identity that separates the band from other average thrash metal bands.

Songs like 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' and especially the instrumental 'Orion' show great progressive sensability, and it's easy to see where some of prog-metal's later bands were inspired to write their material from. 'Sanitarium' has a main riff that sounds a bit more than familiar with Dream Theater's 'hit' song 'Pull Me Under,' which would be released a good six years later, when prog-metal would really hit off. 'Orion' best shows why this band can be considered prog. There are complex arrangements, irregular guitar rhythms, and really strange lead tones. Most of the songs on 'Master Of Puppets' are 6-8 minutes long in length, and are complex compositions that are a far cry of Metallica's debut 'Kill 'Em All.'

Five stars for prog fans, six stars for metal purists. An essential, defining moment in the world of progressive metal.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Back in 1986, when "Master of Puppets" was released, the music market was flooded with so-called 'thrash metal' outfits, who seemed to compete with each other for the award of fastest band on the block. Frantic, furious riffing underpinned by relentless double-bass drumming, aggressive, in-your-face vocals often reminiscent of punk, violent, apocalyptic lyrical themes, and cover art veering from the gothic to the positively shocking.. In spite of the enduring popularity of heavy metal in the mid-Eighties, nothing produced in the past could effectively be compared to the sonic onslaught wreaked by bands whose very names seemed to embody the nature of the music they played: Anthrax, Slayer, Exodus, Megadeth..

Hailing from the Bay Area, in those days a veritable cauldron seething with talent, right from the start Metallica seemed to stand out from the pack. Their line-up stabilized after the entry of lead guitarist Kirk Hammett (who replaced the volatile genius that was Dave Mustaine), they had already produced a near-masterpiece in their second album, "Ride the Lighting". Young, hirsute and loud like their myriad contemporaries, more than competent at their respective instruments, but certainly no virtuosos (with the notable exception of bassist Cliff Burton), they had nonetheless a depth to them which went beyond the explosion of pure energy that characterized the whole genre. The lyrics to "Ride the Lightning", dealing with the last moments of a man sentenced to the electric chair, were a gigantic leap forward from the nihilistic fury displayed on their debut album, "Kill'Em All". Metallica were not afraid to show that they had brains as well as brawn.

The cover of "Master of Puppets" immediately sets the scene. No gory, tasteless vignettes (like their debut album), no dragons or monsters, no sci-fi scenarios - only a bleak expanse of white crosses held by almost invisible strings projecting from the band's monolithic, ominous logo. None of the eight tracks lasts under 5 minutes, making the album one of the longest ever released at the time. Clocking in at almost 55 minutes, it marks a sharp contrast with other masterpieces of that era, such as Megadeth's "Peace Sells.. But Who's Buying?" and Slayer's "Reign in Blood" - both around 30 minutes in length. Like most milestone albums, it is not 100% perfect, but its strengths definitely outnumber any weaknesses it may possess.

As my readers may know by now, I set a lot of store by an album's opening and closing tracks, since in many cases they are the ones that (even though for different reasons) will most impress the listener. Much like Rush, Metallica seem to specialize in extremely strong, memorable openers, while the closers are sometimes a bit hit and miss - and "Master of Puppets" is no exception. The aptly-titled "Battery" first deceives the listener with its acoustic guitar intro, then launches into a full-tilt assault on the ears powered by manic, razor-sharp riffing, machine-gun drumming, and Hetfield's fearsome bark. The title-track is one of three 8-minute-plus tracks that display the band's more authentically progressive bent, with plenty of instrumental twists and turns, changes in tempo, and even classical breaks. Two slower numbers follow: "The Thing That Should Not Be" has a plodding, Sabbath-like pace that reinforces the Lovecraft-inspired lyrics, though in my view it is not as successful as the instrumental "The Call of Ktulu" in conveying the same atmosphere of underwater terror; wile the mournful "Welcome Home Sanitarium", with its slow, melodic introduction building up towards a heavier crescendo that reflects the anguished lyrics, closes the former A-side of the album.

The second part of the album opens with "Disposable Heroes", possibly my favourite song on the album, mainly on account of its strongly anti-militaristic lyrics. Those who think heavy metal is only about Satan and wild sex should listen to this song, particularly the scathing chorus. "You will do/What I say/When I say/ . You will die/When I say/You must die. You coward, you servant, you blindman." Hetfield bites off the words, and the crushingly heavy, oppressive riffing matches the mood of the song to a T, while the guitar solo at the end injects some beauty in this landscape of bleakness and despair. The other highlight of the former B-side (and probably of the whole album) is the 8-minute-plus instrumental "Orion", a fully progressive offering full of melody and interesting textures, providing Cliff Burton (who would tragically die soon after the album's release) with plenty of opportunities to display his skills as a four-stringer. On the other hand, "Leper Messiah" and closer "Damage Inc." come across as the weaker links in the chain, though they detract in no way from the overall strength of the disc.

A milestone album indeed - but is it progressive? Not being well-versed in music theory of any kind, I will not even try to attempt a defence of its progressive credentials, or lack thereof. However, even a cursory listen of any Dream Theater album will reveal the overwhelming influence of "Master of Puppets". Unlike the New York-based band, though, Metallica were never interested in displays of technical skill to the detriment of the songwriting. The dense, claustrophobic atmosphere of this album rings authentic, bolstered as it is by lyrical themes that sound much closer to gritty reality than anything penned by DT or any of their followers. "Master of Puppets" cannot by any means be called virtuosic, but everything about it screams 'masterpiece'.

I bought this album when it first came out, and I have loved it ever since. Unfortunately, I am aware that many people will not go beyond that 'metal' in the band's name when approaching it. While I recognise that "Master of Puppets" may not be to everyone's taste (especially if you happen to count Camel as your favourite band), I think a little open-mindedness can never hurt. Therefore, my five-star rating will be valid both for myself and for the site. Without this album, there would be no prog-metal to speak of.

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars It needs no introduction.

MASTER OF PUPPETS is usually known for being one of the most influential metal albums of all time when it's not even a quarter-century old (as of 2009). The sound is what you would expect from a metal band, lots of bottom-heavy guitars chugging out riff after riff until Kirk Hammett feels compelled to blast off at the speed of light in the form of a guitar solo.

That's nice and all that...but what's this got to do with prog rock?

A lot more than you think. Take the title track for example. It's eight-plus minute length isn't enough to assume progginess, but if you take a deep listen, the song doesn't appear to compulsively vomit riffs sporadically. Every line seems to have been handled with care, constructed in a meticulous order to achieve the best effect. There's a spot where the song drops to a calm waiting for the listener to get pulled in like a magnet while the chorus chants ''Master!'' building in intensity, then screeching the guitar with the idea that a payoff has been accomplished.

If I can really praise Metallica for anything on this album, it would be that in their better songs, they really know how to use the dynamics well. ''Orion'' is a perfect representation as it starts soft but quickly ascends into typical thrashdom. Then, there's a middle bit led by an intricate bassline to segue to a gorgeous dual lead guitar part that dumps out some emotion. Then, when it gets heavy again, everything just makes sense.

The favourite tracks I have from here are the two that I've already mentioned (''Master of Puppets'' and ''Orion'') as well as ''Leper Messiah'' and especially ''Welcome Home (Sanitarium)''. As positively as I've described it so for, MASTER OF PUPPETS can get quite repetitive with the metal riffage easily, not to mention that the guitars give me head cramps after too long. Besides, I think ''The Things That Should Not Be'' is rather lackluster. But the sound and aura are as close to progressive rock/metal without really getting there, and progsters would be wise to at least have an open ear to this stuff.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I listened for Metallica album for a first time soon after Ride The Lightning was released. I remember, that wasn't too much attracted by that album, but noticed it is different from many others heavy metal works I loved at that time.

Master Of Puppets came to me much more later. Metallica became great band, my taste in music changed many times. So - how does it sounds for me now?

First of all, I really happy that their sound is changed from superspeed monotonous debut. In fact, there I hear great step from trash metal and speed in playing to more musical things. For sure, title track is great classic. They became a bit more heavy, more melodic, I really love that guitar sound in combination with bass/drums pulsation.

Yes, they still are too monotonous here, but I can hear many of their future unique sound elements on this album yet. Understanding it's historical value, I like some thing on it, and don't like too much some others.

For me, great Metallica time is still coming there....

In total - important, interesting in some moments album, but for sure not masterpiece. Between 3 and 4.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
4 stars Continues with excellence

Master of Puppets is the next step in the development of Metallica as one of the main bands in thrash metal. The genre of the album is pure thrash metal as the predecessor - Ride the Lightning. And yet both albums are different to each other, despite the same genre. In Master of Puppets the sound is more compact and homogeneous, while in Ride the Lightning it is more scattered. It's hard for me to judge which's better, but I suppose I slightly prefer Ride the Lightning.

There aren't weak songs here on Master of Puppets as in Ride the Lightning. Probably the musicianship here is in its peak for the band. Album is less progressive than its predecessor, but contains the instrumental Orion, which is a reminder of prog music. Because of its importance, Master of Puppets is slightly overrated in my opinion, because I don't think it's the best metal album, but yet landmark in metal music. After this album Cliff Burton passed away in accident and the other members have produced the real magnus opus of Metallica - ...And Justice for All! Master of Puppets - around 4 stars!

Review by jampa17
5 stars Master... Masterpiece...

I start saying that I'm not a fan of Metallica. I grew up listening to their 90's material and I never dig into them. Just too much of showing off personalities and Hetfield voice was too plain for me. BUT, when I explore the band better, is undeniable why they are one of the main reference to most of the metal bands of this generation. And to been honest, this is really the metal masterpiece, the reference to whoever wants to make metal. So, lets see.

Everything you expect from metal is there: heavy and tight guitar riffing, many great and fast and guitar solos, "in your in face" attitude, dark themes, heavy and loud songs, soft and dark passages, just everything in the right place and quantity.

One thing is undeniable, Hetfield is the best riffing guitar player in history. All his riffs are memorable and I don't know if he have a robotic arm but it's impossible to play that fast, that accurate, that creative and still sound great. The rest of the band is really on the level. Remember this is the last album before the death of Cliff Burton. The highlights of the album are Master of Puppets, Disposable Heroes, Damage Inc. and the great moody instrumental "Orion".

I really recommend this album to anyone who wants to understand why Metallica is so important to music in general. This is the album that explains it all. The only things that I don't like from the album is Hetfield voice, which is always the same, he is not a great vocalist and the sound quality. Of course we are talking of 1986, and the sound is not that great, but the quality of the songs are all over it.

For prog maters, a 5 star because this album influenced a whole sub-genre of prog so, this is like The Beatles "Sergeant Pepper" of prog-metal. Try it, you will enjoy this...

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In many ways Master of Puppets is the perfection of the epic metal ambitions of Ride The Lightening. A personal preference for the latter makes me rate this one just a tad lower, but obviously this is an exceptionally strong album from the days when Metallica made really exciting music.

Again, the most convincing songs sit in the first half. Master Of Puppets especially is a outrageous riff-onslaught. It's ambitious, inspired and a truly masterful composition with variation, balance and powerful riff progressions. This sure is leagues above their humble Iron Maiden meets Motörhead beginnings. Also The Thing and Welcome Home are essential and decidedly progressive songs.

The second side fails to maintain the same level of excellence and is the main reason for chopping off one star. The instrumental Orion should not be overlooked though, especially not by prog fans. It won't beat La Villa Strangiato any time soon but as a metallized alternative to Rush's instrumental side this is surely highly satisfactory.

Highly recommended obviously. 4.5 stars

Review by JJLehto
3 stars A great metal album, and one of the jewels of thrash metal, "Master of Puppets" deserves all the acclaim it receives. That being said, I have made no secret that I do not see Metallica as prog-metal in the slightest. As for being related to prog, the bands influences are the NWOBHM bands and more immediately...Punk, as well as the Speed Metal bands of the time. As for their impact on progressive metal, I jut do not hear it in their music. Aside from different tempos, and occasional acoustic guitar and mixing it up, there's no prog to be found. Queensr˙che, Fates Warning, and Dream Theater and the biggest influences I see on prog-metal (besides the original prog rock bands of course) and though DT is credited with keeping prog alive, and blending it with metal they give credit to Fates Warning for the latter.

That rant being over, "Master of Puppets" is indeed the most progressive work you will find by Metallica.

Battery. Begins with some wonderful acoustic guitar and melody before the thrash begins. Aside from a small break with melody this lasts for most of the song. One of the better solos from Kirk is in this song, and this is a rare song of good drumming from Lars, (who is merely adequate in my book).

Master of Puppets. The title song is pretty much a mid tempo song. There is a beautiful melodic section in the middle. It builds to a more shred solo from Hammett. The songs ends well enough.

The Thing that Should not be. A slower song, it has some cool sounds as well as nice slow heaviness, but overall is just kind of boring. One of those infamous Metallica songs that just goes for too long.

Welcome Home (Sanitarium). My favorite song on the album. A slow, ballad-esque song with some just great melody in it, and James' vocals are great as usual, really works in this song. A good piece, reminiscent of Fade to Black, also the fourth song its album (talk about un-progressive!).

The second half is for you to listen to! But I will say there is no real weak song. Orion is intriguing, though a bit too long. The album ends with Damage Inc. which really kicks in and is pretty unrelenting. Good finish.

Overall, a great album. As with all of Metallica's work James is the unsung hero. His rhythm guitar work is really the backbone of the album, and his vocals are superb. As usual Kirk is good, showing his shred capability but also melodicism. Lars is mediocre, not good nor bad but he gets the job done at least. Cliff is good, but I don't hear the bass too much and frankly I think his hype of bass God is a little much. He seems to mostly follow the guitar work, (more of a musician than virtuoso) but he is fine, and does have nice moments.

Like all their works, "Master of Puppets" is greater then the sum of its parts. Metallica's stability and musicianship make this album so great, as well as their legitimacy in making it. Perhaps the stability, (and legitimacy) is why they always outproduce Megadeth despite that bands always musically superior lineups. Anyway, I personally give this album a four. However, in the context of this site it has little impact and only metal fans/prog fans with large tastes need this.

For this website...Three Stars

Review by tarkus1980
5 stars Well, it's not a huge improvement over Ride the Lightning, but it's an improvement nonetheless. In terms of overall flow, it follows pretty much the exact same formula as its predecessor, with the sole exception that the nine-minute instrumental on side two is the penultimate track instead of the ending one. For that reason, one could very, very easily argue that Lightning should be considered superior, especially when nothing on this album quite reaches the glorious pummelling heights of "Fight Fire with Fire" or "Creeping Death." However, I don't consider any of the tracks on here significantly worse than their Lightning counterparts, and a couple are measurably better. Furthermore, the overall sound is better. They've actually pulled back on the intensity just a whee bit, but that just means that I don't feel like the band is regularly trying to kill me (and besides, this may not be as heavy as Lightning was on an overall level, but that just means this album was arguably the second heaviest American rock album of all time at the time of its release), and that's a good thing. Plus, the production is better than before if only because I can actually regularly hear Cliff's bass as a distinct individual instrument, adding a tangible (as opposed to implied, which was the case on large parts of Ride) counter presence to the amazing guitar interplay. Oh, and James' singing is a lot better than before, if only because there's no excessive reverb attached to his vocals this time around.

And the songwriting, gah. Ok, the album has one duffer on side two, the fairly boring (in the first half anyway, even when taking the cool basslines into account) "Leper Messiah," but even that briefly picks up serious steam in its last couple of minutes in the guitar passages, so it's not a total loss. And with the rest, well, I kinda get the feeling when listening that the band realized in the midst of recording that it was creating a rock classic for the ages; the opening minute of the album and "Battery," with a trio of acoustic guitars morphing into the duel-guitar and bass attack that dominates the rest of the album, doesn't sound to me like the band is just aping its Lightning formula in one more way. No, that opening sounds genuinely beautiful to my ears; it's a stretch of legitimate grandiosity that I've heard few (if any) metal bands pull off succesfully (heck, the only opening instrumental passages in all of rock music that I can think of to match this in anthemic power are "Baba O'Reilly" on Who's Next, "Watcher of the Skies" on Foxtrot and "Where the Streets Have No Name" on The Joshua Tree). And of course, the song itself rules; it isn't cripplingly whomping like "Fight Fire with Fire," but the crisp power and intensity (and the bass, oh the bass), combined with a neat efficient vocal melody, make this a total classic. And that part in the middle where it slows down just a smidge and where Kirk teases the listener before exploding in his typical way, well, that's just great rock music there.

Skipping the title track for a minute, the "For Whom the Bell Tolls" counterpart, "The Thing That Should Not Be," may not have the symphonic bliss of its predecessor, but the riffs are so menacing in their mid-tempo stomp, and the introduction so eerie, and the vocal melody so well written in the way it works its way around the instrumental breaks, that it nearly overtakes "Bell." Anybody who thinks for even a second that 80's Metallica used its speed and noise to cover up a lack of songwriting has to give this track another five or so listens; if you're still unconvinced, then at least shut up for a moment and enjoy the weird-ass noises Kirk squeezes out of his axe around the four-minute mark. And then we have "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" which, as great as "Fade to Black" was, grinds its competitor's bones to make its bread. My favorite part is the dark-yet-shimmery introduction, which once again demonstrates the band's once impeccable understanding of contrast, but the vocal melody and lyrics are both great (again), the solos are amazing (again), the bass adds infinite amounts of depth, and the ending crescendo and acceleration (before the final slowdown) would likely be the band's finest moment were it not for the band topping itself a couple of years later with "One."

The second half can't help but be slightly weaker (especially during "Leper Messiah"), making it into somewhat of a letdown, but the drop still isn't as much as I think some make it out to be. For one thing, I can't really buy into the tiff many people have against "Disposable Heros," which I think rules. Ok, yes, the lyrics are a bit banal and obvious; they're about the way "grunts" in the military are treated, not as human beings with real thoughts and feelings and families, but rather as mere cannon fodder. The thing is, the music ends up supporting the theme to a tee; the main melody has a great feel of angtsy tension, and the chorus, with its "Back to the front!" calls is a perfect manifestation of the calls of an officer who couldn't care less about his soldiers.

After "Leper Messiah," we come to the instrumental "Orion," which I've found from experience can be somewhat overlooked if one's not careful. Don't make the same mistake I did; this doesn't have the same kind of repetitive menace that "Ctulu" has, but this instead has a lot of high quality variation, with lots of high quality riffs and untrivial chord changes and mind-blowingly cool diverse solos from Kirk a little over six minutes in. Plus, it has that one section in the middle that probably qualifies as the only instance of a band playing space-metal blues (!!). The song really sounds like it matches its title in terms of having all sorts of sci-fi vibes throughout, but it also makes it sound like travelling to the stars would make for a really great weekend excursion, and that's a neat combination.

At the very other end of the metal spectrum, we have the closing "Damage Inc.," which shows the band temporarily breaking out of its artsy tendencies and delivering a straight-up speed-metal frenzy, kinda like one would find on Kill 'Em All, only completely pwning the majority of that album (and having an eerie atmospheric opening to boot). Let's see, there's better singing, there are more mature instrumental techniques, and yet when it's time for Kirk to deliver a fast solo, James yells out "GO!" Ok, so it's not a classic on the level of the first half of the album, but it's a great great closer.

For all this, though, the title track is still my favorite of the album, and in my mind completely destroys the title track of Ride the Lightning. From the standpoint of just the music, this thing is totally amazing, from the great intro riffs through the great, slower you-will-bang- your-head mid-section and the intense, no-you-don't-get-it-you-WILL-bang-your-head reprise at the end, blah blah blah you've read all this before. My favorite aspect of the song, though, is that they managed to create an anti-drug song so slick lyrically that it managed to make the PMRC completely miss the point and use the song as one of its prime examples of the evil of rock music by the mid 80's. That's right people: this song, unless I, my brother and others from whom I've heard this are completely missing the boat, is about none other than the horrors of cocaine addiction and the hopeless slavery that comes from it. If you don't believe me, look at the lyrics again; the line "chop your breakfast on a mirror" should be a dead giveaway. Way to go, guys: you managed to make an anti-drug song into one of the greatest heavy metal songs ever.

Sheesh, I'm reading this review, and I'm almost wondering why I don't like this enough for it to crack my top 50 or higher. Of course, to be fair, it's (like all albums of this kind) a difficult album for me to sit through from start to finish without a break (sometimes a man just needs to hear some ABBA), even though 80% of it completely rules. And "Leper Messiah" is really noticably weak ... and "Disposable Heroes," as much as I like it, really shouldn't be in excess of eight minutes in length. So ok, it's not quite pantheon-worthy for me. Make no mistake, though, the last couple of sentences are just mild quibbles: this album is easily one of my favorites of the 1980's, and a solid inclusion into my overall top 100. Everybody who likes rock music should own this, period.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This was the album that made me convert to prog... and I mean it in a bittersweet kind of way!

I'm pretty sure that Master Of Puppets was my album introduction to Metallica back in the late '90s. By that time I had already heard some of their hits like Enter Sandman, Nothing Else Matters and Master Of Puppets. Up to this moment my expectations were on the all-time high considering what everyone around me raved about the early Metallica albums and most notably this particular release.

The album began on a high note with the heavy shredding Battery followed by the masterful title track. This was easily the highest point of my Metallica fandom craze since things would only go down from here on. The Thing That Should Not Be and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) wound the album down after the two first tracks and it was a welcoming change of pace even if these performances weren't on the same level of enjoyment for me. Little did I know when I heard the first sounds of Disposable Heroes that it would be the make it or break it track for me here. Widely considered to be one of Metallica's greatest achievements described on Wikipedia as a composition that lyrically deals with ...a soldier's thoughts, actions and experiences at the war front... and that it's known for its ...long duration, extremely fast tempo and aggressive, sixteenth-note machinegun-like riffs. To tell you the truth, I just wasn't that impressed by neither the instrumental nor the conceptual themes of Disposable Heroes.

The lyrics come off sounding very amateurish and not that profound as many of my friends seem to suggest. The whole idea of a worth of a soldier's life is has been done to death, especially as a backlash from the Vietnam War and the imagery painted through the lyrics sound hollow to me. I see it as a song about a profound subject just for the sake of sounding smart and rebellious. I don't intend to compare James Hetfield's text-writing skills to those of Peter Gabriel or Peter Hammill, but even on it's own merits it still doesn't work for me. As for the instrumental arrangements it's just a heavy hitting Thrash Metal tune without anything too noteworthy except the ridiculous chorus melody and lyrics that make me cringe whenever I hear them. Leper Messiah also lacks anything worth a while for me but at least the band managed to keep things a bit shorter this time. Orion returns the quality of the album to above average even though the comparison to The Call Of Ktulu from the previous album is nonexistent.

I guess that it's not that big of a deal to give this album an average rating on a progressive rock site, but back in the day I received a lot of backlash from my metalhead friends for not even pretending to I like songs like Disposable Heroes. Weird how these things can be when you're a teenager. Oh well, at least I stuck to my guns which motivated me to explore other bands outside the norm of the environment surrounding me, so I'm definitely not sorry for it!

***** star songs: Battery (5:13) Master Of Puppets (8:36)

**** star songs: The Thing That Should Not Be (6:35) Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (6:28) Orion (8:25)

*** star songs: Disposable Heroes (8:15) Leper Messiah (5:41) Damage, Inc. (5:31)

Review by friso
3 stars Metallica - Master of Puppets (1986)

Lately I've been listening to some Metallica again and I though this was a good moment to write something about it on PA. My favorite album of the band is Ride the Lightning, but there are more impressive album by this architypel trash-metal band. Master of Puppets is an album with yet more great heavy songs, but it is plagued by the IMHO weaker tracks.

The sound of the band is still very good. The opener Battory is rough, but catchy. The title-track of the album is a very strong trash song with a great instrumental melodic section in the middle. This came as a suprise for me when I was young, but nowadays I quite used to this. The thing that Should not be a memorable song and Senatarium is a masterpiece! But then... both Disposable Heroes and Leper Messiah are weaker tracks that remind me of the second halve of the debut album of the band. There are some strong parts, but the songs arefunctional nor cathcy. Orion is a perfect instrumental track with a progressive feel.

Conclusion. This album has some great tracks like Sanatarium and Orion, but I can't listen it in it's entire form. Hence, three stars.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "GO!"

"Master of Puppets" was quite a substantial improvement across the board on "Ride the Lightning," and for me realized the promise of "Kill 'Em All." It was also the last Metallica album I really cared about. While many people loved "Justice" I always felt something was missing without Burton. Master sounded better from a production standpoint, the songs were more intricate, the soloing more substantive, and the ass-kick quotient was even higher. Even the artwork was better.

Few albums pack a more explosive one-two punch opening than Master. "Battery" begins with a beautiful acoustic guitar sequence before pummeling the listener with the most ferocious thrash you've ever heard. The succinct and punchy ending is designed to segue right into the opening of the title track, which is one of Metallica's finest songs. The riffs and changes are so tasty on Master, really interesting and dynamic. They still pack the punch of the old songs but the depth and feeling are expanded. There have been acoustic parts before but the difference on Master is noticeable. Here when it breaks into the acoustic interlude with the soft, expressive electric solo afterward, it sounds natural and less contrived than some of the last album's change-ups. Master (song and album) nails the songwriting much better than most of Ride.

The album in no way sustains the magic of the first two tracks however, and is not really close to my definition of a masterpiece despite the high rating. It's more consistent than Ride with about twice the number of great songs but there are still a few duds: "Welcome Home" really stumbles from the high of the first three songs, and despite everyone's raving about long instrumental "Orion" it doesn't amount to much to me. "Disposable Heroes" does a bit better musically but suffers from naïve, juvenile, and frankly deceitful lyrics. The album fights back however to close with the super thrill ride that is "Damage, Inc." Those double-slammed chords at the end just kick (expletive bleeped) arse. Everyone has improved on Master but Hammett in particular impresses, his solos are much more productive in my opinion. He's thinking first, wailing second. To sum up Metallica, get the first one and this one, that's all you need. Justice has moments, everything after that is not worth your time (though I've not heard Death Magnetic). 3 ½ stars.

Review by Negoba
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.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Masterful

I have never been a fan of Metallica, nor of Thrash Metal in general, but even I have to admit that Master Of Puppets is a good album. It is the band's best album and clearly a classic of the Thrash Metal genre. The progressive aspects are here and while heavily influenced by traditional Heavy Metal, Metallica did bring something new to the table as well. They have a sound of their own and they are clearly talented musicians. It is certainly understandable that they became hugely popular, even their music is not exactly my cup of tea.

Later Metallica albums would tend to follow the same formula as this one and in the 90's they would also lose much of their progressive edge. As such Master Of Puppets is the place to start with Metallica. One cannot deny that Metallica had an influence on progressive Metal together with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Rush, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.

A good album, but far from an essential component of any progressive Rock collection

Review by Warthur
5 stars Master of Puppets represents that tantalisingly brief moment in time when Metallica attained a perfect balance of thrashy aggression and bombastic pomp to create a fusion greater than the sum of its parts. This is evident right from the start of the opening track, Battery, with its martial march giving way to a furiously angry thrash workout, and persists through to the end, with the prog-metal instrumental Orion giving way to album closer Damage Inc. in a final one-two punch. Truly a peak both of Metallica's career and of the mid-1980s thrash scene as a whole, this one must surely compete with Slayer's Reign In Blood for the title of best and most influential thrash metal album ever.
Review by Chicapah
3 stars By March of 1986, when "Master of Puppets" was released, it was apparent to anyone with half a brain that metal was not just some here-today-gone-tomorrow musical fad and that the band known as Metallica was the undisputed champion of that genre, at least in the United States. It was their first album to be put out by a major label (Electra) and not only did it crack the top 30 on the charts but stayed in the Hot 200 list for 72 weeks. These rowdy rockers had arrived. As I've confessed before, I wasn't a fan at the time and, being the snob I was, didn't take them seriously. I should have but I didn't. My opinion at the time was that they were obviously very angry about something and I couldn't relate. I'd come of age over a decade earlier to the metallic sounds of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin (in the late 60s when there was plenty of political crap to be pissed off about, believe me) but I adored their music because it was so damned COOL, not because they were expressing some inner rage that stalked within me, looking for a way to get out. I just didn't get it. It was only after seeing various documentaries of them in the last few years that I got sufficiently exposed to their aural art and that prompted me to finally give them a fair listen. There's no doubt that they had a progressive mind-set and weren't satisfied to stay in one place for long so my hat's off to them for their moxie, regardless of their rock & roll attitude. I do prefer their later material mainly because it sounds better fidelity-wise but it helps to know where a group's roots are planted so as to make an unbiased assessment of their music. That's why I'm reviewing their product chronologically.

This record begins with "Battery," wherein big, thick acoustic guitars lead the listener to an onslaught of brittle metal riffs that bite and rip like a pack of Piranhas. Lars Ulrich's frantic drumming is relentless underneath. While the song is superbly tight (something I put a lot of stock in), it's also very predictable. Cliff Burton's bass and the lower frequencies in general are almost non-existent and that fault detracts from the impact the tune might've had. The title track is a definite step upwards. Its aggressive and prog-laden intro lays the foundation for a song that's more dynamic and interesting than the opener was. I was pleasantly surprised by their sudden descent into a calmer, more melodic movement in the middle that provides essential contrast before they slowly climb in intensity back to the original feel. The imaginative arrangement of this tune shows they were growing and learning as composers. "The Things That Should Not Be" is next and its slower rock tempo allows the deeper grit of James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett's guitars to emerge and grab your attention. It's also nice to be able to at least feel the bass even if I can't discern its lines distinctly. To my ears the bad news is that the number lacks cohesiveness, as if it was pieced together from unrelated ideas.

"Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" is a highlight. The song's atmospheric beginning with its unusual time signature draws me right in and the finesse they display in their approach better allows their musicianship to shine through. The 2nd segment doubles up the beat, turning it into more typical metal fare but the tune doesn't lose its personality in the process. "Disposable Heroes" is a large case of lightning-speed riffs zipping over sensible, grounded drums that wisely avoid trying to match the furious tempo set by the guitars. Hammett plays with fire and fierceness throughout. Here I detect a palpable Black Sabbath influence in their writing but there's no lack of energy, that's for sure. "Leper Messiah" is a growling, chomping monster of a track even though it seems to have swallowed the bass guitar whole. This one has more rough edges surrounding it than the other cuts, hinting to me that this tune just never jelled the way they wanted it to.

The best cut is the instrumental "Orion." That's not an indictment of James' strong voice at all. He's good at what he does. The number's haunting, mysterious opening leads to a penetrating, steady rock rhythm roiling underneath a bank of churning guitars. It's as if the absence of a vocal presence freed them up to relax a bit and to rely on their ingenuity to create a stunning piece of music. The intricate guitar work is engaging from start to finish and I'm happy to be able to hear and enjoy Burton's bass guitar for a change. They close with "Damage, Inc." and they smartly utilize another "ease in" ploy to keep things from becoming stale. Soon, though, this song develops into an all-out blitzkrieg of metal sensibilities, no doubt in order to appease their loyal head-banging flock of followers. That's not a knock at all. The boys in Metallica knew who brought them to the prom in the first place and that it was important to deliver the goods.

"Master of Puppets" has been called one of the greatest metal albums in history so I feel a tad out of place in saying it's only slightly above average in my book. I'm no connoisseur, though, and my estimation of its merits should be taken with a marble-sized grain of salt. At the same time I'm an admirer of any group that can defy the odds and attain spectacular success despite the lack of support from the popular radio stations of that era that would only play hit singles. These guys did it the hard way and they are to be commended for that and for the fact that they were "progressing" steadily in their career. 3.1 stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars This is largely regarded as a masterpiece and all I have to say is that not only is this third release from METALLICA cutting edge in progressively advancing thrash metal into the limelight but also deserves some credit for forwarding the doom aspect of metal. I can't think of anything more Sabbathy than the depressingly downtuned intros to "Battery," "The Thing That Should Not Be," and "Welcome Home." Although doom metal was taking root in bands like Pentagram and Candlemass, it was METALLICA who really brought the sound to the masses which contributed to its expansion in the 90s. Phenomenal album that everyone already knows about unless you live on Mars or something.
Review by FragileKings
4 stars You might be surprised, but I never knew anything about progressive rock or progressive music until 2010. Yes, after 28 years of listening to various kinds of artists I had only ever heard the term "progressive rock" mentioned by Dr. Evil's son, Scott, in an Austin Powers movie. But once I understood what it meant to play progressive rock or progressive music, I soon thought that Metallica should be included on this site and the album that made me think so was "Master of Puppets".

I was introduced to Metallica sometime during '84/'85 and thought that "Ride the Lightning" was the coolest album I had ever heard since Judas Priest's "Screaming for Vengeance". So, when a friend of a friend told me and said friend that the new Metallica album was out and let us listen to the beginning of "Leper Messiah", I was thrilled and dying to get a hold of the album. In fact, for two weeks until I could purchase my own copy, the main riff to "Leper Messiah" refused to fade from my memory.

"Master of Puppets" was and is such a wonderful step in the evolution and progression of Metallica's early music. "Kill 'em All" was delightfully speedy and thrashy with a rawness that was meant to deliver this new development in metal with full intensity. "Ride the Lightning" featured acoustic guitar and a step forward in music complexity. "Master" proved to be not only heavier but more mature and more sophisticated than its predecessors. For me, this is the ultimate Metallica album.

"Battery" told you right from the start that this was "Ride the Lightning" Metallica with the heaviness turned up and all the fury and intensity still faithfully loaded. But it was the stunning title track that exhibited the band's song-writing skills at their height. The song is masterfully constructed with an intro to blow you out of the water and a riff that should be one of the coolest in 80's metal. The song cruises rapidly as you'd expect from thrash but with the balls to keep the pace less break neck enough for you to follow the lyrics, which I have always somewhat proudly interpreted as a song warning of the hazards of cocaine use. Hey, when parents in the eighties were constantly on about how heavy metal was turning their kids to drugs, my friend and I (neither of us ever touched anything stronger than cough syrup and only in the recommended doses) were right proud to point out the meaning of the lyrics.

Then there's this totally unexpected slow down with clean guitar and Kirk Hammett plays this melodic solo that is truly beautiful. A guitarist once told me that the key to great solos was not shredding or blazing through some tricky technique, but rather playing something along with the melody of the song. Hammett establishes a melody on the lead and then solos over where the melody is established to be. In the "Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage" movie, Hammett talks about Alex Lifeson's phrasing on "The Villa Strangiato" and how it impressed him. He certainly learned from it as Hammett pulls off some great melodic solos on this album, the first of the better ones to be heard here on the title track. The song goes on to build in tension and intensity and after a fiery thrash-shred solo, the song returns to the main riff with bludgeoning brutality. It's an awesome thing. Hammett said of Rush's "2112" that it took him on a journey. Well, I feel that Metallica accomplished creating a journey here on the song "Master of Puppets".

"Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" is another song that has its own structure and story in the music. By the end of side one, I feel that Metallica worked hard to create individual songs that could each stand up on their own, and they did so on "Master" better than on "Ride the Lightning".

"Disposable Heroes". I was surprised to find out this song is over eight minutes long. Back in the cassette days, we didn't care about song length so much. You had your three-digit counter that had nothing to do with keeping time. Heck, I didn't know that "Child in Time" was over eleven minutes or that Pink Floyd's "Dogs" was over 17 minutes. They were just songs that had in them what they required to be what they were. They were complete as they were and the time length wasn't a concern for us. So side two opened with another thrasher but in parts that were not just verse/ chorus but actually introduced two contrasting choruses. One sang from the field commander's perspective as he shouts to the young soldier to get out and die: "Back to the front / You will do what I say when I say / Back to the front / You will die when I say you must die". The other sang from the remorseless, matter of fact send off of the deceased soldier: "Soldier boy made of clay now an empty shell / 21 only son but he served us well / bred to kill not to care / do just as we say / finished here, greetings Death / he's yours to take away". Writing about the waste of life in war is nothing new but metal bands had and have a way of being very cynical, honest, and at times ironic in how they deliver their message about the wastefulness of human life in war.

The song with the unforgettable riff, "Leper Messiah" was next. A funny thing, I was listening to this song on my Walkman for the first time in the dark of one early morning as I delivered newspapers and suddenly I heard the voice counting in the song and it startled me. I froze in my tracks and scanned the darkness, searching for the person who was possibly calling out to me. But it was just the cassette. Man, I still love this song, even though the theme is another fairly common metal target: evangelism that encourages cash for God's favour. It brings to mind Rainbow's "Man on the Silver Mountain" at least in lyrical subject.

Then comes the fantastic instrumental, "Orion". Introduced by a growling organ sound with a drum beat driving along, the music turns heavy with a thunderous riff and then goes thrash. In the middle, it all breaks down to a slow and mysterious segment with an almost sexy guitar solo that could work for a strip tease if it were longer. The music remains melodious with more of that moving lead guitar work. Then a bass solo by that incredible musician who was Cliff Burton. The music returns to its thundering thrash riff again in the last minute.

At last, after such a memorable journey through what surely must be called progressive thrash metal to be understood clearly, we close the album with a bass solo performed by volume dial adjusting and then enter the intense thrash tune that is "Damage Inc." What a fine way to end the album, bookended by two very heavy and blistering tunes.

I actually had a ticket to see Metallica on the "Master of Puppets" tour but James Hetfield broke his wrist skateboarding and the show was cancelled. Then later they had their tragic bus accident that killed Cliff Burton. When they finally came to Vancouver, Burton was no longer among them, and I couldn't attend the concert anyway. The next best thing was going to collect the newspaper delivery monthly fee from a customer on my route, who played the drums, and meeting his friend who played guitar. The two of them performed "Master of Puppets" for me, a flawless and jaw-dropping performance, right in the drummer's living room. As far as I could tell, they totally nailed it. All I knew was the main riff and I couldn't play it fluidly.

Speaking of drumming, one thing that I have noticed in recent listens is Lars Ulrich's drumming. The 1980's had a lot of stale drumming, just a steady 4/4 beat with a drum fill coming in just ahead of the chorus or at the end of a solo. After all the creativity and skill that developed in drumming throughout the sixties and seventies, the eighties seemed to drive it all into flatline. But what I hear on "Master of Puppets" at least is how Ulrich's drumming is used almost instead of a lead guitar. For example, in the title track or in the rhythmically un- complex "The Thing That Should Not Be", when the guitars are chugging along steadily and without variation, the drums will add some colour with some well-placed hits on the toms and a cymbal crash. It would be easy to imagine throwing in some lead guitar notes or other effects, but Metallica use the drums to spruce up these parts. This had me playing closer attention to these two songs as I listened to them today and I realized how Ulrich was skipping beats in places only to add a double beat after or some slightly more complicated drum bit. It just struck me as using the drums to more creative effect, in a more progressive approach than a standard song would have. This to me is more interesting than a five-minute drum solo.

After 30 years now almost, this album still stands out for me as one of the best examples of a metal album of all time. And one of the things I admire most about it is the high level of musicianship coupled with the advanced thinking toward song structure and melody, something that most thrash bands of the day would not have dared to attempt. This is surely a vital step toward the development of progressive metal.

Latest members reviews

2 stars A Fine album by Metallica indeed! Sadly I can't give this album any higher than 2, I can't. I was willing to give this a 3 star just because it's a great album by a great metal band. However that's the problem, there isn't prog in here at all. The only Simi-Prog material on this album is t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2378308) | Posted by Zoltanxvamos | Friday, May 8, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 'Master of Puppets' is without a doubt one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. Taking what they started on 'Ride the Lightning' and pumping it full of steroids, this takes all the best elements of Metallica's previous album and magnifies it a thousand times over, firmly placing Metal ... (read more)

Report this review (#1780571) | Posted by martindavey87 | Saturday, September 9, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Does the world really need another review of Master of Puppets? Probably not. But it's the album that got me into more extreme forms of metal, and as such has had an immeasurable impact on my musical taste, so I'm going to write one anyway. To fully appreciate this album in its proper context ... (read more)

Report this review (#1569449) | Posted by CassandraLeo | Monday, May 23, 2016 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I hated the first album, enjoyed the second to an extent - on to the third. "Battery" - Fast hard thrash metal. As with many previous tracks from the band I don't like the anthemic shouting style of the vocals. Nothing wrong with the music though. The track seems kind of disjointed in places ... (read more)

Report this review (#1010267) | Posted by sukmytoe | Saturday, August 3, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Master Of Puppets is a Metallica album which was released in 1986, The album is considered one of the most successful albums ever. Similar to its previous album "Ride The Lightning" this album of Metallica starts with a quiet acoustic intro of the song "Battery", a very gloomy and slow, more ... (read more)

Report this review (#918086) | Posted by FenderX | Saturday, February 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's hard to talk about a masterpiece like this because it feels like everything has already been said, and I would just be adding different ways of saying "I like it", and "it's so awesome, dude." But I will say, from the standpoint of a Progressive Metal fan, if you are into Progressive Metal a ... (read more)

Report this review (#755939) | Posted by dtguitarfan | Monday, May 21, 2012 | Review Permanlink

1 stars The basis for this review is from people who have forced this on to me. I was at a bus stop going to school while the individual was listening to this album on their headphones and said listen to this. I was about 10/11 years old at that time and remember the fatalized cover art showing or pers ... (read more)

Report this review (#579764) | Posted by thewickedfall | Friday, December 2, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What to say about "Master of Puppets"? Is the absolute masterpiece of Metallica, maybe the greatest heavy metal album of all time, surely an album that has introduced to this musical genre thousands of people all around the world. If "Kill'em All" is a shocking, violent and uncontrolled explos ... (read more)

Report this review (#579340) | Posted by Avtokrat | Thursday, December 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Battery has a beautiful acoustic guitar opening. Good shock effect when it changes. Then exemplary thrash metal. Same goes for Master of Puppets until the middle section which is great. By contrast The Thing That Should Not Be is slow and heavy - love it. Nice opening and a lighter approach f ... (read more)

Report this review (#524101) | Posted by bassgeezer | Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Metallica's legendary "Master Of Puppets" is without the glimpse of a doubt a record any true metal maniac should sooner or later have in his or her collection. Without questioning the great status of this record, I must though admit that the record has always been a little bit flawed by the fact th ... (read more)

Report this review (#383250) | Posted by kluseba | Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Well, a metal album, speed-trash metal, 1986, a good year, and Metallica offers this album, where apparently the first song tells us that the music used in this album is speed and heavy guitar sounds with interesting changes, battery is a common theme sound with the same style and times, where in ... (read more)

Report this review (#267636) | Posted by JgX 5 | Tuesday, February 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Metallica's Master Of Puppets is one of the best metal albums ever made, and a great influence to many Prog Metal artists. The album is better then Ride The Lightning in almost every way. James Hetfield's vocals & lyrics are amazing, KIrk Hammett's solo's sound like they should sound, fast and ... (read more)

Report this review (#255091) | Posted by Metalbaswee | Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is without any doubts one of the masterpieces of heavy metal. Or thrash metal as this music was called when it arrived. Where the other thrash metal bands just went for speed (hence the term speed metal), METALLICA went for intelligent songs. Both lyrics and song structures. The song st ... (read more)

Report this review (#218215) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, May 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Back in 1983 when Metallica released Kill Em All it was full-on thrash. Metallica's songs then grew more complex, more progressive with the release of Ride the Lightning. Then the boys took it one more step with Master of Puppets. The song's once again became more complex, more progressive and t ... (read more)

Report this review (#215915) | Posted by Mitch17 | Friday, May 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Obey... After listening to this many many times, I have all but redefined my enjoyment of Master of Puppets. Aside from certain aspects, I actually love it. The acoustic introduction to Battery is pretty, and those wailing guitars...mmmm. But I digress (or do I?) The music here is absolutely phen ... (read more)

Report this review (#208850) | Posted by Alitare | Thursday, March 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album and RTL stand at the top as two of the greatest metal albums ever. Although this is more progressive than RTL, I prefer RTL. This the last to feature amazing bassist Cliff Burton. This album features one of his best performances, the instrumental Orion. I recommend all songs except The Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#201577) | Posted by estes | Tuesday, February 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow, what an album. While not so extensively progressive as some other artists who identify themselves as progressive metal, this album does have lots of progressive moments among the thrash metal, and it deserves 5 stars not only because of that, but because of its amazing influence on other ban ... (read more)

Report this review (#199759) | Posted by HammerOfPink | Monday, January 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Overall, I think this effort is far less consistent than Ride the Lightning. That said, it does have the quintessential metal song, Master of Puppets. None of the songs drag, but also are much less distinctive in style than on Ride the Lightning. There are, of course, exceptions such as Welcome ... (read more)

Report this review (#190512) | Posted by AngleofRepose | Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of best metal albums. This album is not just trash metal, it has progressive elements in all songs. Guitar solos are not just fast , every note is there for a reason. Essential album. Album starts magnificently with accustic guitar on Battery (9/10), just like Ride The Llightning's Fight ... (read more)

Report this review (#190189) | Posted by IvanK | Saturday, November 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Great! Finally! Metallica is here on the good ol' Archives. Anyway...moving on. The songs are labyrinthine, with arrangements to confuse even the most seasoned metalhead, and I'm sure that many a thrash nut cried sell-out upon hearing the quiet, delicate acoustic intro to what is one of ... (read more)

Report this review (#185622) | Posted by nahnite | Tuesday, October 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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