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Metallica - Master Of Puppets

Is this the most perfect creation in "Metallica's" catalog ????

On March 3, 1986, "Metallica's" third album "Master Of Puppets" was released and is truly a "Master" !!!

Before we dive into the depths of this marvelous album, let's first refer to the previous album "Ride The Lightning", because it can not be ignored when talking about "Master". This album took "Metallica" to the next level in Metal. It has established itself as one of the leading metal bands in the world with a heavy sound, crazy rhythms, strong riffs, classic openings, and precise and sharp techniques. We do not just mention this album because "Master" is the big brother of "Ride". There are lots of similarities between the two and even the structure of the songs and their distribution throughout the album are very similar.

Like "Ride", "Master" opens with a very fast-paced intro-acoustic song - "Fight Fire with Fire" versus "Battery". Then comes along the song, which is also the album's theme song - "Ride the Lightning" vs. "Master of Puppets”. The fourth song is a powerful and smashing ballad "Fade to Black" against "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and there are more similarities, trust us...

When the two leading members of "Metallica", Lars Ulrich, and James Hetfield started working on the demos for the album in mid-1985, they wanted to take the "Ride" album to the next level with this one. Produce an upgraded version of the "Ride" album in every possible aspect. In terms of the guitar technique, in terms of the drums, in terms of the lyrics, and the structure of the songs, as if taking "Ride" and making it much better. The two began working on demos for the album and recorded all the songs except "Orion" and "The Thing That Should Not Be".

(Photo: Ross Marino)

With six songs and a few more ideas, the members decided to stop everything and get specialized before entering the studio. Lars took classes to improve his accuracy and timing, as well as improve his flexibility and improvisation ability while playing. Kirk Hammett teamed up with his teacher and rabbi Joe Satriani to inspire and hone his technical abilities. Cliff Burton went deeper into classical music, he took history lessons and learned to play classical music which made him process and treat music differently.

More polished... sharper... and well-prepared...

The members approached none other than our dear Geddy Lee - the legendary bassist/singer/keyboardist of the band "RUSH", and asked him to take the production role of the album, but since the schedule did not suit the band and Geddy, they decided to drop this option and turned to a man they know so well from their previous album Flemming Rasmussen. (Later Metallica members on the inside cover of the album will thank Geddy and his friends from "Rush"). Fleming complied with the request and flew with Lars to Los Angeles to search for a recording studio. However, after months of searching and experimenting, mostly on the sound of the drums, the two did not find a suitable studio and returned to the studio where they recorded their previous album, Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark, Lars' birthplace. The band members were very reluctant to get back to the sleeping bags in the studio in Copenhagen where they slept during the "Ride" recordings, but at least this time they came to the recordings, more financially established, and could afford to stay in hotels.

Before recording the songs for the album "Metallica" recorded demos of several covers, including: "The Prince" by "Diamond Head", the song "The Money Will Roll Right In" by "Fang" and the song "Green Hell" by the "Misfits". It was a "soundcheck" before the real thing, to test the sound and the quality of the recording in the studio. Some of the covers came out at a later stage in a re-recording at various releases, including the album "Garage Inc". The covers were recorded and rehearsed and everything sounded great except for Lars's snare, which is a forward-looking sound like the recordings for the album "St. Anger" (I wonder if he already got this ridiculous idea here). Lars was looking for the sound of the special "Black Beauty" snare of the Ludwig drum company, although Lars has always played "Tama". Since "QPrime", the management company of "Metallica", is also the management company of "Def Leppard" and their drummer Rick Allen has exactly the same snare, asked Lars to have the snare sent to him in Copenhagen because he was not present. Rick went through a difficult and famous accident that left him with one arm at the time, so the management company complied with Lars' request and sent him the snare (but Lars eventually managed to find the snare in Copenhagen until it arrived).

So now that everything is ready and everyone are happy, we can start recording...

(Photo: Ross Halfin)

Hetfield had already developed in the previous album an obsession with performing riffs in a strong and precise manner. He always thinks they are not "Tight Enough" so James' recording parts took many hours of rehearsals and uploads of layers upon layers to please his perfectionist aspirations. James said that he had a founding moment in the recordings of the song "Hit the Lights" for the compilation album "Metal Massacre" which was released in 1982 when one guy approached him and asked/commented...

"Oh, the rhythms aren't very tight are they? 'Man"

From that moment on, James developed an obsession with the matter throughout his life !! While James scorched his strings and hands for long hours, Kirk and Cliff found themselves roaming the streets of Copenhagen, sometimes for 24 hours straight, half-drunk, just to pass the time.

Metallica took a short break from recording for a performance at the "Metal Hammer Festival" in Germany and immediately returned to complete three and a half months of recording. They finished recording the six songs of the demo and then the other two songs that as we described, one of them was the "Orion" segment that Cliff based on Bach's "Come, Sweet Death".

Kirk said the song symbolizes Cliff's "Swan Song," in which he wrote the entire middle part of the song and made the band experiment with additional nuances in music. After Cliff's death, James will tattoo on his left arm the notes of the bass section - from the middle of the piece. This piece will also be played at his funeral.

The band members did not see the light of day during the entire recording period of the album. The album was recorded in Denmark at night when the band members woke up the next day, it was already dark again.

On December 27, 1985, the recordings for the album ended and the finishing phase began...

To many, fans and critics alike, this album is considered a moment when "Metallica" surpassed itself and broke creative conventions in the thrash metal world. Through it, they have inspired and legitimized many bands to break through the boundaries of traditional metal and gave more space to diversity and creative expression. If you ask Lars, he generally hates sticking "Metallica" only to the thrash genre, because tracks like "Orion" and "Damage, Inc." cover a more diverse and broader genre of metal.

This album is just perfect from start to finish. Eight tracks distilling pure metallic gold.

The album opens with the "epic" and acoustic intro of "Battery" whose softness and delicacy manage to shake us every time again. A slow, melancholy, and melodic section that leads us to be naïve about the massacre. It grows and grows until it just 1:06 minutes it becomes a devastating monster, just as Dr. Bruce Banner the withdrawn and solitary man becomes the Hulk. They are exactly the definition of the first slow and melodic "roller coaster" taking us up the track to the climax, the second fast, crazy, and nervous, just like the fall that comes after the climax. This song was written about Battery Street in San Francisco where many of the clubs Metallica played at the beginning.

Then comes the masterpiece, the Everest of the Himalayas, the Olympus of Greek mythology. The theme song is "Master of Puppets". A dynamic three-piece track that is reminiscent of the complexity and frequent rhythm changes of progressive rock works. Each part of the work takes you to a different place, which is probably meant to describe a different situation in the life of a drug-addicted person, to whom the lyrics also refer. From the heavy and long instrumental opening, through the melodic and quiet section and the thrilling solo of Hetfield to the fast part and the crazy laughter at the end. There's an amazing guitar work by James and Kirk who also share the solos here. By the way, Kirk Hammett testifies that the opening lick of his solo was fully influenced by non-other than Gary Moore. This song has a perfect Down Picking technique, breaks, and quick drops that will inspire many guitarists. It is interesting to note that a piece from the song was sampled by Anthrax in their song "I'm The Man".

When we first listened to the third track "The Thing That Should Not Be" we thought it would probably sound like a jam session by members of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. This song is based on a story called "Shadow Over Inns mouth" written by H. P. Lovecraft and describes a monstrous creature rising from the sea. We said at the beginning that there are many similarities between "Ride" and "Master", so "Ride" includes "The Call Of Ktulu" which is also based on a story by H. P. Lovecraft. We also mentioned Geddy Lee and the band "Rush", so Kirk noted that one of the riffs in this song was taken from the riff in the song "Jacob's Ladder" taken from the album "Permanent Waves" by the band "Rush".

Closes the first side of the vinyl is the ballad "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" which is influenced by the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Jack Nicholson. The song is told from the perspective of the hospitalized in a mental institution and describes his fear of leaving the place. The lyrics of the song were completely different in the first demos and also James' scale of singing was higher, but he realized that he could not hold the song in such a way so he choose a lower scale for the final version. In addition, the initial version of the song included a bass line in the middle of the song, which would later become the bass section on which "Orion" would be based.

The other side of the vinyl opens with "Disposable Heroes" a work reminiscent of the complexity of the theme song. It is a protest song told from the point of view of a soldier who is inevitably sent to the front line and realizes that he is a "puppet on a string" of the ruling regime that sent him to die, for his interests. The song corresponds well with the album cover.

The track "Leper Messiah" was influenced by David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust song in which the duo appears. Here, too, it is an anti-religious protest song, depicting the corruption of the church and the preachers on television. It is interesting to note that Dave Mustaine claimed that he wrote the main riff in the song, but Kirk refuted this in a 2006 interview.

Another protest song on the album is "Damage, Inc." which goes out against the big corporations and industry. The song is also a kind of look of the band inward at how it has become a corporation and is now part of the big machine.

After the recordings were done, "Metallica" went on a tour as an opening act for Ozzy Osbourne who brought the band's exposure to an extreme and devout audience that adores metal music and also adores Ozzy. This warm-up also gave Metallica a stamp on the part of the "Prince of Darkness" for being a worthy band in the world of headbanging.

(Photo: Ross Halfin)

The album, which received no marketing exposure or plays on radio stations, began to grow and grow gradually as it sold 300,000 copies in the first month, 500,000 copies in the first year, and so it continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies each year and maintain a large sales volume. Just for the sake of emphasis, it stayed 72 weeks on the Billboard charts.

This album is surrounded by a dark tragedy that still haunts the band and it is Cliff's death.

On September 27, 1986, during the album's European tour, the band was on the bus on its way to a show in Copenhagen when in the Kronoberg County, Sweden area the bus overturned, and Cliff who was sleeping in his booth (replaced Kirk due to a bet) was thrown through the bus window and was crushed by the bus.

Metallica who did not want to stop the momentum was looking for a new bassist and after several auditions and a month after Cliff's funeral, they recruited Jason Newsted who was also a big fan of the band.

This album holds 8 powerful, poignant, and amazing tracks by a band that put in blood & sweat, and tears and broke the boundaries of the genre, listen to the album on: Spotify, Apple Music

Each year, the US Library of Congress selects 25 "culturally and historically significant" recordings. The Chief Librarian, in consultation with the American Council for the Preservation of National Recordings, has been selecting recordings since 2000: this year, 450 pieces of music have already been selected for honorable mention in the Library of Congress.

In 2016, Metallica's album: Master Of Puppets was chosen, to enter a place of honor and prestige in the Library of Congress.

Fast Forward to June 2020:

The song: "Master Of Puppets" by the band Metallica was voted the best song of all time, by the band's fans. There was a bloody battle with the song: "One", but in the end, this immortal conductor was chosen.

Two bonus facts:

1. Metallica performs the song "Master Of Puppets", in two versions in the band's live shows:

The first version is the full version in which the band plays the song in its entirety.

In the second version, the moment arrives in the song in which Hetfield screams !!! MASTER! And only his voice resonates for many seconds and then..... moving to the song Nothing Else Matters, or the song Welcome Home (Sanitarium).

2. Bonus fact about the meaning of the song: Master Of Puppets

In 2016, Hetfield just rolled the dice, about the incessant discussion about the meaning of the song, and truth be told, it was t so much renewed for the band's fans, but this time it came from the horse's mouth, during an interview:


"The song is mostly about drug use... how drug use causes you to lose control, instead of controlling yourself and your desires, drugs are the ones that control you."

In the picture:

Hetfield Guitar Pick, which I caught at the Nova Rock Festival, Austria 2006 - Metallica played the album from beginning to end, marking 20 years to the album.

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