Master of Puppets review by Metallica

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  • Released: Mar 3, 1986
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.4 (2,572 votes)
Metallica: Master of Puppets
19

Sound — 10
What is there to say about Metallica's 1986 album "Master Of Puppets"? The sounds range from fast and furious (Damage, Inc.), to slow and heavy (The Thing That Should Not Be), to mellow, yet thought provoking (Welcome Home (Sanitarium)). The lyrics are well captured by the music, which is heavy. This album defines heavy. Heavy does not just mean hardcore, nor does it necessarily mean screaming. This album is not heavy in that sense. It is thought provoking and the songs have a real reflective, and brooding atmosphere, that perhaps only Slayer are better at creating. The sound really captures the theme of manipulation. It really forces the listener to ask: "Who is the puppeteer?" I will do a review on each song.

01. Battery - this introduces the album. It gives an indication of the nature of this agressive topic. The acousic intro was very well thought out, much better than "Fight Fire With Fire"; that acoustic intro just was irrelevant to the song. In "Battery," the intro is, in a way, heavy, it hyptonises the listner, unpreparing them for the sonic assault that awaits. Very good thrashy drumming by Lars Ulrich. This song is almost flawless, save for the fact that James keeps on reminding us what the song is called at the end, and that gets tedious.

02. Master Of Puppets - this song takes on drugs. I wrote an essay on this song and it's lyrical theme, at school, for English class, and got a really good mark. (I got 7.4/10, which is pretty good for Yr 11). It starts with a fast picked chromatic riff, which builds up to Kirk Hammett's riff. This just gets my really going. I had a fit the first time I heard it, it is so powerful. Then, a blues based power chord riff comes in for the chorus. The interlude is a musical description of the life of a drug user, or rather, a drug victim. It starts of fun, clean, easy going, then progresses onto depression, confusion, the the solo, everything is out of control. The solo is heavy, and fast, one of Kirk Hammett's best. The last verse without the singing is the classic part of this song. Kirk Hammett overdubbed a solo, but it is played backwards. It sounds chaotic, yet retreated and ignored. The laughter just sends a chill down my spine when I listen to it. Very good, except the drumming is disappointing, I wonder why Lars doesn't want to pound that double kick, and yes, I know I said it didn't need to be all that extreme to be good, but for goodness sakes, this is Thrash Metal, double kick at 208 beats per minute is an integral part of the genre.

03. The Thing That Should Not Be - heavy and slow, it is an overlooked heavy song, not unlike Pantera's "Slaughtered" on the 1994 record "Far Beyond Driven." Perhaps the most atmospheric and underrated song on the album, it's lyrics are based on a book by H. P. Lovecraft, and also are about insanity. The drumming in the main riff bring out the brooding, waiting atmosphere, it really does seem that riff really is waiting on something, just what? What ever it is, it should not be. Kirk Hammett lets all hell break loose with his heavy, wah soaked solo. It really gets into your head and nerves. The 2 note trill while rocking on the wah pedal is really effective.

04. Welcome Home (Sanitarium) - the 2nd song in 'tallica's '80s tradtion mellow musical masterpiece ("Fade To Black," "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and "One," the Latter being the best of the 3, and possible the best Metallica song ever recorded). The song starts with open E string and 12th string harmonics, closely followed by twildling around with notes lower down the neck. It is the sound of boredom. Of reflection. Of contemplation after being titled insane. This song perfectly follows on from "The Thing That Should Not Be," the lyrics are from the point of view of a person in a mental institution, and has an uncanny resemblance to the movie "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." The real gem in this song is Kirk. He is very melodic, and very fast. The moment the song goes into double time, you know the inmate is going to take action. The 3rd solo releases the fury of the inmate. The ending is huge. It destroys the walls of the place. But not completely. Damage, Inc does that. One of the best Metallica songs ever, almost flawless (I rarely give 5/5, this website only allows whole numbers, not decimals).

05. Disposable Heros - the version of manipulation here is Soldier consctription. So far, there have only been 2 staple thrashers on the album, this is the next. Unfortunatly, the album goes down hill for a little while with this and the next couple songs, which are unmemorable. Sure, the riffs are satisfying and fast, but not great. This is my opinion, but there is not much to say about this song.

06. Leper Messiah - again, unmemorable but good. At the beginning there is a heavy riff quiet similar to "For Whom The Bell Tolls," with palm muted syncopated powerchord over a chromatic bass line, which sounds cool.

07. Orion - where to begin? I rate a song on if I like listening to it. If it sounds good. On atmosphere. If it's mad skills, great. In my opinion, the Metallica instrumentals are overrated. "The Call Of Ktulu" was downright boring as was "To Live Is To Die." But Orion is diffrent. It actually does fit in with the album. The solos are mainly melodic, and that starting riff just marches in. But the jewel in this song is Cliff Burton. Now where do I begin with this. When I read on the MoP booklet that there was a bass solo, I expected wild bass tapping, evil slaps and what not. I was surprise and dissapointed when I first heard it. But it was only when I finished listening to the album that I realised what I had heard. This slow, quiet bass solo is something special. This could have been a bass playing epic, but it just doesn't last long enough for me. The quietest (save perhaps the intro to "Damage Inc.", yes it's exciting, I keep mentioning that song, it's next) moment on the album, it is also the sweetest, and slowet moment. There is just something about the was Cliff plays that I can't explain that is really beautiful, it's one of those classic moments (others include Jimmy Page and "Stairway to Heaven, and my personal favourite, Dimebag Darrell and "Floods"), where the musician plays with soul. Too bad the rest of Orion isn't great. The song ends faster, and fades out, the end awaiting.

08. Damage, Inc. - and what a end. No album has been ended so good. The best staple trasher on the album, and in the world of Thrash Metal, this is up there with tracks like Slayer's "Angel Of Death" and Sepultura's "Arise." It is another one that defines thrash. Fast, furious, aggresive, bad ass and quite heavy, (in the sense it has a brooding atmosphere). It starts of with volume swells and bass pedal effects. It follows on perfectly with "Orion." The purpose of "Orion" is now known. The sweet sound of the volume swells allows you to reflect, and for awile, just forget about the dark issue that is present. But it must be concluded. The beginning power chords accented by the drums wake you up. Then you are dragged into it by the build up of the fast beat. The lyrics are about ending the pain. Either rising up against with violence against the Master of the Puppets, or ending it all for your self with suicide. Kirk Hammet delivers a true metal style solo- it is mind boggling and and highlights what Kirk Hammett is (or was) about. He's been critizied for not been able to hold a bend or having a weak vibrato. But he is damn fast. Sure there's faster, but it's part of his style to have a fast run of notes. It's got a good aggressive bridge, (that riff is fun to play), and concludes with the verse, and damn, how that verse riff is just ripped up by the double kick. It is very satifying. (Check out Flotsam & Jetsam's version of this song, it's on "Metallic Attack - The Ultimate Tribute", and is overall pretty good). The only dissapointing thing about the song is the final measure. The abrupt ending. Why did the song, and the album have to end on a weak F5? Anyway, the song makes it clear, whatever the ending to the pain, damage will be incorporated. This song put a smile on my face, it is an epitome of the fast genre of thrash, it's got it all.

Lyrics — 10
The album "Master Of Puppets" has a lyrical theme manipulation, which is really well captured by the music, and deals with drugs, abuse of power etc. James Hetfield sings much better in this song (he sings best of all in the album "...And Justice For All"), than in previous albums (his singing was terrible in "Kill'Em All") as he sings with more balls than ever before. Each song presents a version of manipulation, and is well ended by "Damage, Inc."

Overall Impression — 10
There is (or was) a real musical chemistry most of us would envy between these guys. Especially between Lars Ulrich and front man James Hetifield, with real super songwriting magic happening, with tracks such as "Battery," and on other albums, like "Blackened." These 4 talented men drew on from experience, perhaps not just from their lives, but from literature and most importantly, imagination. It is let down by poor production, with the bass being shunned and the songs lack bass. If a digitally remastered version came out, I'd make an effort to get a job to earn money to buy it. Well, a good album is made up of good songs. Best songs: Battery, Master Of Puppets, The Thing That Should Not Be, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Damage, Inc. Oh, ok, why not, and Orion... RIP Cliff Burton.

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