"Master of Puppets" is the 3rd studio album by American thrash metal band, Metallica. It was released in 1986 on Elektra Records and produced by Flemming Rasmussen. The line-up for the album was James Hetfield (vocals/guitar), Kirk Hammett (guitar), Cliff Burton (bass) and Lars Ulrich (drums).
Clifford Lee Burton was just 24 years old when he lost his life in a bus crash in Sweden and he left behind a legacy with the first three Metallica albums to his credit, and the 1986 masterpiece "Master of Puppets" being the last of those.
The album was released nearly 7 months prior to the accident and is widely regarded as one of the best metal albums ever recorded and right from the opening notes of first track "Battery", something special lies ahead. The song begins with a slow acoustic harmony before the bass, drums and electric guitars pound in with furious energy. We'd been accustomed to the ferocious pace of Metallica with tracks such as "Whiplash" and "Fight Fire With Fire" from the band's previous two albums, with "Battery" being the fastest (and shortest) song on the album.
Metallica scored big with the release of this album and any fan can still get lost in that age of when thrash metal was at its highest peak by giving this a spin. If you're a fan of early Metallica, you'll no doubt like every song on the album.
The lyrical content of the title track deals with the effects of drugs, "chop your breakfast out of a mirror" being an example. The song, however, is a blend of heavy riffs and slowed down instrumentals as you're taken through the pain and addiction of the drug user and is easily one of the strongest on the album.
Most people do talk about "Battery" and "Master of Puppets" as the cornerstone songs on the album, but "Disposable Heroes" and "Damage, Inc." stand up to the test of time too with their heavy thrash tempos. And what can be said of "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)"? If you're lucky enough to have seen Metallica live, you may well have heard this track and "Fade to Black" in the set and you might have noticed the similarities. Both start slow and both end with rising speed and tempo.
Ask any fan of 80s thrash to name their top 20 albums and "Master of Puppets" will be in the top 5. If you only got into Metallica because of "Load" and "Reload", this album may not be for you. If you've been a fan since the early days, you most certainly already have it.