40’s Insights – Master of Puppets

Preconceived Notions:  It’s hard for me to remember when I had preconceived notions to this album, b/c I believe the 1st time I heard it, I was 9.  However, I can recall that this album was one of the holy trinity for Metallica efforts…and although many fans swear this is their ultimate production…I’m slightly more partial to 1984’s Ride the Lightening.   Still though…Puppets has a special place in my musical development and should be considered a classic from nearly every perspective. I will also put it out there…that this not a ME pick, in case anyone was curious.

After Listening: From the acoustic opening right on through to Damage Inc, this album reminds you what it can be like to listen to honest thrash metal, that actually is even a little better than they may have set out to achieve.  Sure you get the loud guitars, screaming, and quick percussion that define the genre….but you get a lot more in subtle harmonic interplay.  It’s somehow epic without the pretentiousness of bands like Iron Maiden (whom I also enjoy for other reasons)…put together simply enough to be powerful, while showcasing true musicianship among the players. Strictly commenting on the audio quality this album suffers a bit less than Reign in Blood from Slayer, but still mid 80’s recording had some limitations to this form of music, and I think in the digital age this thing would’ve been even more amazing.

Favorite Tracks:  “Master of Puppets” – the title track combines a powerful opening, with an airy breakdown, and then closes with a sort of stampede.
“Orion” – The instrumental is probably the defining moment for the late Cliff Burton.  Although Metallica experimented with instrumentals on their 1st 4 albums…this one is clearly the standout piece.  A metal/classical hybrid without being Yngwie Malsteen cheesy.
“Disposable Heroes” – The syncopated main rhythm is enough.  Man is that good.  But the solo is out of this world to boot.

Least Favorite.  None.

Overall: 5.0  For its time this thing was heavy, brilliant, and accessible.  It remains all of those things today, and if it seems like I should’ve said more with this album review…it’s probably b/c I’ve spent a good 20 years talking about it.  Some people like to discredit this thing in light of the Metallica that surfaced in the mid 90’s and beyond and I realize it’s fashionable to hate on them for “selling out” or “fighting Napster”  etc….  But, we’re not talking about the persona of the band, we’re talking about the music and the music has no peer in the genre – all of the pseudo metal – “rock” that came after it could be blamed on them to a certain extent I suppose….but they did it fresh.

40 (45 Posts)

40 has had training enough in classical theory to know roughly what he's talking about. As for talent, he considers himself a crappy guitar player. He has a BA in Audio & Sound Recording BA, so not only does music creation intrigue him, but also music production. He believes that expression takes all forms, and it has to be remembered that music is an art form and is ultimately about connection, communication, experimentation, creativity, freedom, emotion, and 100’s of other things.


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