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Master of Puppets “was the realization of all the promise Metallica, and thrash metal music in general.” GW However, the album’s true testament is that it has been “hailed as a masterpiece by critics far outside heavy metal’s core audience.” AMG
“On their final recording with bassist Cliff Burton (who would die in a tour bus accident) they reinforced everything good about heavy metal (the velocity of the playing, the emotional release of the vocals) while undermining at least a few of the cliches.” TL “Metallica fully recasts metal as thinking-person’s music” TM by expanding “metal’s ritualistic pummeling with music of impressive, even daunting, intricacy.” TM The group effectively plays “metal as modern-day classical music, offering up harmonically and structurally complex arrangements that convey a stunning range of ideas and emotions.” GW
Thematically, the album focues on “the concept of power and abuses thereof.” AZ “Welcome Home (Sanitarium) is from the point of view of an institutionalized inmate and Disposable Heroes is the perspective of a soldier.” AZ “They also got in digs at…head banging conformists” TL and “primal, uncontrollable human urges” like rage and drug use, such as in the “unmistakably anti-drug” TL title track.
“This eight-song album clocks in at over an hour, which makes it all the more impressive that not one moment on this recording is boring.” AZ “The arrangements are thick and muscular, and the material varies enough in texture and tempo to hold interest through all its twists and turns.” AMG Like predecessor Ride the Lightning, the album was produced by Flemming Rasmussen, who had previously engineered works by Cat Stevens and Bert Jansch. His only “previous heavy-metal production experience lay with Rainbow’s Difficult to Cure (1981), but his uncluttered style is perfect for the visceral assault of Metallica.” TB
It is “thrash metal’s finest moment” GW and has even been called “the best heavy metal album ever recorded; if it isn’t, it certainly comes close.” AMG
- one of the top 1000 albums of all time
- Kerrang magazine top 100 of all time
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Spin Magazine’s Top 100 Albums of All Time
- Time Magazine’s Top 100 Albums of All Time
- one of the top 100 albums of the 1980s
- one of the top 50 Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Albums
Resources and Related Links:
- the DMDB page for Master of Puppets
- the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry for Metallica
- AMG All Music Guide review by Steve Huey
- AZ Amazon.com review by Genevieve Williams
- GW Guitar World 50 Greatest Guitar Albums (2/19/2009)
- TM Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die (2008). Workman Publishing Company, Inc.: New York, NY.
- TB Thunder Bay Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. (2005). Page 231.
- TL Time Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Albums by Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light (11/13/06).
- UT USA Today, Top 40 Albums – the USA Today Way (12/5/2003).