Thursday, September 27, 2007

No. 167: Master Of Puppets

Band: Metallica
Album: Master Of Puppets
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: One of the landmarks of thrash metal, "Master Of Puppets" is a deluge of speed drumming, drug references and razor-sharp guitars. It's at the top of many "best metal album" lists and rightfully so.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It's not my favorite Metallica record -- "Ride The Lightning" -- nor the band's most famous record. It's a fantastic record, but largely a one-note symphony. Lyrically, it's all about power and musically, only small diversions in-song can make for any non-thrash sounds.
Best song: The first two tracks are beautifully crafted, full speed metal. "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" builds as well as any song on the album.
Worst song: "The Thing That Should Not Be" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Yep.

It's easy to forget, in a post-"Some Kind Of Monster" world, that Metallica was a fantastically badass band. Back when they sounded like a Sabbath LP played at 78 RPM and sang mostly about war, Metallica was a group of innovators.

"Master Of Puppets" is the record when the band, if briefly, perfected their thrash metal sound. "Battery" runs through you like a shock while "Master Of Puppets" has all the starts and stops of "War Pigs." "Leper Messiah" is a pointed attack on Christianity while "Damage, Inc." twists, turns and features James Hetfield's whispering vocals. "Orion" is Cliff Burton's greatest triumph and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" is a fantastic stare into insanity.

Metallica never had the musical blinders going as they did on "Master Of Puppets." The music isn't fantastically diverse and the band rarely let up on the metal, as they did on later records.

Still, it's a wonderful metal record. The signature guitar, Heftield's snarl and Cliff Burton's finest moments all come through.

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