Master of Puppets
METALLICA

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4.61 | 194 ratings | 18 reviews
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Album · 1986

Filed under Thrash Metal

Tracklist

1. Battery (5:11)
2. Master of Puppets (8:38)
3. The Thing That Should Not Be (6:39)
4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (6:27)
5. Disposable Heroes (8:21)
6. Leper Messiah (5:42)
7. Orion (8:27)
8. Damage, Inc. (5:31)

Total Time: 54:59

Line-up/Musicians

- James Hetfield / Rhythm Guitar & Vocals
- Kirk Hammett / Lead Guitar
- Cliff Burton / Bass
- Lars Ulrich / Drums

About this release

Type: Studio album
Release date: March 3, 1986
Record label: Elektra/Vertigo
Producers: Flemming Rasmussen and Metallica

Thanks to metalbaswee, Pekka, adg211288 for the updates

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METALLICA MASTER OF PUPPETS reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
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.
dtguitarfan
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 and you haven't heard this album, GO LISTEN TO IT. Stop what you're doing. Right now. This is historically one of the albums from which Progressive Metal spawned. It is the inspiration behind, and influence of, some of the most well known Progressive Metal bands. If you want to understand how Progressive Metal came about, listen to this album.
Warthur
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.
Sheavy
(original review from ProgArchives.com)

A true Master. This album is highly debated with Slayer's Reign In Blood as being the greatest thrash album of all time. This one takes the cake over Slayer any day. That aside it also has a fair dose of Prog thoughts throughout a lot of the songs.

there is not a single weak track on this entire album, from start to finish it is a true masterpiece from the Acoustic beginning to Battery to when Damage Inc. ends. The songs range from the thrashing Leper Messiah, to the beautiful instrumental Orion. This is a hugely necessary album for everyone that has even a passing interest in music as a whole, not just Prog, which this album and the next have a good helping of. It is impossible for me to give this less than the five stars it is deserving of.
bonnek
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 Metal fans.
poslednijat_colobar
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!
The Angry Scotsman


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). Really great song.

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.

Disposable Heroes. A nice contrast with the previous song, this one is quite thrashy and tells the story of our youth going off to die in war. Some of the best vocals on the album as James shouts, "You will do, what I say, when I say, back to the front! You will die, when I say, you must die, back to the front!" Powerful.

Leper Messiah. A slow, heavy churning song that peaks, then takes us back with a chuggy outro.

Orion. A very intriguing song, and perhaps the most progressive on the album. Quite a journey, though a bit too long.

Damage,Inc. Starts off nice before slamming us with non stop, no mercy thrash metal till the end!

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. Frankly, he impresses me more as a musician than virtuoso anyway.

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. A classic metal album that is one of the best examples of musicianship. A great blend of thrash metal and progressive rock that is done quite well. Only real knock is that some parts simply drag on for too long.

Four and a Half Stars
Conor Fynes
'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.
AtomicCrimsonRush
File under masterpiece.

'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.
Stooge
Many of my peers in elementary school were heavily into Metallica in Grade 8. For some reason, I didn’t quite appreciate them at this stage of my life. Two years later, I stumbled across a copy of Master Of Puppets at a second-hand store. Taken by the album cover, I immediately purchased it. I’m not sure why, but I decided to listen to the instrumental “Orion” first. From the initial fading in of the growling bass and steady drumming, I immediately got chills down my spine. They remained there upon the fade-out. Why did it take me two years to get into this band??

There is absolutely no filler on this album at all, and each song is structured in such a way that you don’t even make notice of the running time. It is a 50+ minute album that has the feel of a 30-minute album. Song length is well balanced. Not one song is under 5 minutes long yet not one over 9 minutes.

In my 10+ years of listening to metal music, I still have yet to find an album that blends aggression with melody in such a fine fashion. Tracks range from all out thrash metal mayhem (“Battery”), to the somewhat-sludgy (‘The Thing That Should Not Be”) to the near-symphonic (the title track and “Orion”), but throughout it all, Metallica maintain their signature sound and attack found on Kill’em All and Ride The Lightning.

It is often said that a unit is only as strong as it’s weakest link; an analogy that is certainly applicable to the Metallica on their third album. James Hetfield’s barking vocals are in top form, his riffing is the inspiration for millions of guitarists (and air-guitarists!!), and his lyrics have matured and are delivered with exceptional confidence. Lars Ulrich, while perhaps not as skilled as contemporaries such as Dave Lombardo of Slayer or Charlie Benante of Anthrax, pumps much of the life into songs like “Damage Inc.” and “Disposable Heroes” from behind the drum kit. It’s his performance on Master of Puppets that has highly revered drummers such as Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater citing Ulrich as an influence. Kirk Hammett has crafted some of the finest leads in his career, and is the standout performer on “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”. I’m particularly fond of his lengthy solo during “Disposable Heroes”. Cliff Burton, on what would be his last studio recording, absolutely shines as a bassist and composer. He is most often credited by the band as being the driving force behind much of “Orion”. The solo starting at 6:35 of “Orion”, which I assumed to be guitar for the longest time, is Burton’s, as is the intro to “Damage Inc.”.

Not much else for me to say. Five stars for Master Of Puppets is the easiest decision I’ve had to make all day (and would be for most days).

Members reviews

kluseba
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 that it is a weaker copy of the groundbreaking previous "Ride The Lightning" album. Still, the quality of this copy has a standard of the grandest kind but this is the reason why this record is only very good but not excellent to me.

The song structures, the way the track list is composed and even some topics are comparable on both records and each one has some advantages and disadvantages. As both albums are very similar, I think that a direct comparison makes a good sense for this special and exceptional occasion.

Let's start with the positive facts first. The title track "Master Of Puppets" is better than the great thrash metal anthem "Ride The Lightning" because of its more progressive structure, its well developed details and its epic length. Still, both tracks are close to perfection in their unique ways and essential moments of thrash metal. The great and often underrated epic thrash monster with interesting lyrics called "Disposable Heroes" easily beats its direct concurrent from the "Ride Of Lightning" record which is "Trapped Under Ice". A third definite highlight of "Master Of Puppets" is the very diversified and addicting instrumental track "Orion" that never bores for a second and surpasses the very solid but not outstanding "The Call Of Ktulu" from Metallica's second strike.

On the other side, I think that the mad thrashing head bang monster "Battery" lacks of some kind of fond atmosphere which "Fight Fire With Fire" had on the previous record. It's the same thing as one compares the great "The Thing That Should Not Be" with the even greater and more atmospheric doom thrasher "For Whom The Bell Tolls". It's a very tough decision to choose between the hypnotizing and slightly psychedelic "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and the beautiful half ballad with acoustic parts which was "Fade To Black" but the latter one has the certain plus of magic and experimental courage for that time which the other doesn't have. Another tough decision is the duel between "Leeper Messiah" and the underrated and often criticized "Escape" that sounds maybe too commercial and chorus orientated for some thrash metal hardliners. It's not because of pure opposition that I would go for the latter one but because I think that the song is simply different, more unique and more addicting. Finally, I think that "Damage, Inc.", a solid but not outstanding track overall, is beaten by one of Metallica's classics to me which is "Creeping Death".

In the end, "Ride The Lightning" wins my direct comparison with five to three points after all but it's really a close ride and both albums are exceptional. On the other side, for the first and only time, Metallica didn't try out something new between two albums and stagnated on a very high level after all. That's why I think that "Ride The Lightning" should inherit the status of a cult classic in a fair world and not the slightly overrated "Master Of Puppets". Nevertheless, both albums are milestones I don't want to miss that rotate quite often in my sound system when I need a good dose of some classic but already quite complex, elaborated and maybe even progressive thrash metal. Let's also add that the authentic production and the great vintage cover artworks are the best Metallica have ever done to date and add a little supplementary bonus to the powerful spirit of the music.
bassgeezer
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 for Welcome Home (Sanitarium). Another good track. Half way through it gets heavier and faster. Disposable Heroes takes up where the previous track left off. A good start then more exemplary thrash. Leper Messiah is slower but still thrashy. But then Orion – a masterpiece – enough said. A different start for Damage Inc then more thrash. Not my favourite Metallica album but clearly seminal.
criticdrummer94
The album Metallica will be remembered for for the rest of existence. This is a great album but does slump a little more than Ride the Lightning which only did once(Escape) with this one they slump twice(The Thing that Should Not Be and Leper Messiah). Battery, The Title Track, and Damage Inc. are all great songs but this album doesn't seem much difference between this and the previous album. Overall, a great album but not really a favorite or standout to me. 4 and a half stars. Highlights: Battery, Master of Puppets, Welcome Home(Sanitarium), Disposable Heroes(underrated classic), and Damage Inc.
jampa17
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 references to most of the metal bands of this generation. And to be 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 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 is too rough, but that's the way of metal. Not too sharpy or "beauty", the goal is the attitude and the music. Of course we are talking of 1986, and the sound is not that great, but the quality of the songs are all over it.

If you haven't heard this album and you think you are a metalhead, you should check it out... you can't pass by with out hearing the masterpiece of metal. 5 stars... period...
Valarius
‘Master of Puppets’ is without a doubt one of the greatest heavy metal of all times. 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 by a thousand.

A nice combination of heavy and melodic, ‘Master of Puppets’ mirrors its predecessor very closely, but at the same time it manages to maintain its own identity. Opening track ‘Battery’ is very similar to ‘Fight Fire with Fire’, starting with a nice clean guitar harmony, followed by riffs of complete chaos that'll destroy all your senses. ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’ takes the ballad concept started on ‘Fade to Black’ and pushes it further than anyone thought possible, and ‘Orion’ is a nice eight minute instrumental that can go toe to toe against ‘The Call of Ktulu’ any day.

Despite the similarities, ‘Master of Puppets’ shows a band becoming more mature with each release. The lyrics are even more grim and darker than before, and the song-writing, especially on tracks like ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘Welcome Home’, shows a band that has developed closer over the years to become as tight as they can be, with Hetfield and Hammett's guitars working in perfect harmony with Burton's bass-lines and Ulrich's (somewhat limited) drum skills.

Often cited as the single greatest Metal album in history, it’d be hard to disagree.
Raff
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 landmark album indeed, and influential way beyond the restricted confines of speed/thrash metal, "Master of Puppets" can also be considered one of the cornerstones of progressive metal. Even a cursory listen of any Dream Theater album will reveal the overwhelming influence of “Master of Puppets”. However, unlike the New Yorkers and their countless followers, 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 the bands following in their wake. “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, therefore denying its status of masterpiece not only of heavy metal, but of rock music as a whole.

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