ISSUE #8 FEB 06

Will Scott

Metallica
"Master Of Puppets"

20th March 2005
This one has a caption too
reviewer: Will Scott
rating: 5 out of 5
published by: Elektra
released: 21st February 1986
  1. Battery
  2. Master of Puppets
  3. The Thing That Should Not Be
  4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  5. Disposable Heroes
  6. Leper Messiah
  7. Orion
  8. Damage, Inc.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Metallica? 'St Anger'? 'Frantic'? Lars Ulrich's Godawful drum sound on their latest album?

"Grr"
"Grr"

Forget all this and rewind 18 years to 1986. A time when rock was "proper" and hair was long. 1986, the year of 'Master Of Puppets'.

blah blah amps turned up to eleven blah
blah blah amps turned up to eleven blah

Okay, so this album is only 8 songs long. But so what? It doesn't matter. All of the songs on the album are over 5 minutes long while at the same time not being boring, and all are varied in their sound, 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' being one of the most obvious examples of this. It starts with some natural harmonics which give an almost ethereal sound. It then goes on to a haunting, clean riff and an equally haunting "mini-solo". The vocals then enter, and that's where it all kicks off. Hetfield's voice sounds so much more "Metallica" on this album than on any of their other albums, perhaps because he was younger and his voice was in better condition.

Another interesting thing is their use of classical-esque intros on the first tracks of this and their previous album, 'Ride The Lightning'. It lulls you into a false sense of security while you also anticipate what you know is going to come next if you have listened to the album before, and what you expect to come next if you haven't.

For me, the stand-out track on the album is 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'. It's the perfect track. It has the arpeggiated chords at the beginning, the slow solo, it's a sad song, it has the heavy part in the middle, and it ends slowly with the classic "big rock drums" and an exiting chord. Brilliant.

It doesn't let up there, however - 'Disposable Heroes' is a veritable onslaught of sound, only getting to the vocals and the first verse one minute and thirty six seconds in. It hardly feels like any time at all, though, because you're just letting the sound flow over you.

Only one thing is wrong with this album, in my eyes - the solos are often out of time with the rest of the music. It might be something that Hammett was going for, but to my ears, it just sounds wrong. If I could change one thing, ti would be some of the solos on some of the songs. Don't get me wrong, they're not bad solos, per se, just some of them tend to upset the flow of the song.

An interesting quirk for a metal album is the instrumental, 'Orion'. Not often does a metal album have a song without vocals on it, but in this instance, it makes a nice change from what has, up until now, been an album filled with angsty lyrics and decidedly heavy and varied music. This song still is another of the songs which fits into the "varied" category. It starts of with a faded in guitar and drums, and goes on to the "verse chorus verse" format ever present in music.

In short, this album is a classic, and should always be remembered anytime anyone thinks Metallica are a substandard band.