Saturday, March 31, 2018

Metallica - Master of Puppets (1986)

It might be considered the never ending argument in the metal universe when you are discussing which is the better Metallica album. Either you go with "Ride The Lightning", or you stick with "Master of Puppets" (or maybe some other album if you have literally no taste in metal). Both albums are unique masterpieces, but also have a lot of similarities. They are kind of like twin brothers, even if they were conceived two years apart, and separating the two from each other would be kind of unfair. Then again, I am here to review, so I guess I have to do that anyway. Oh well...

So I probably do not have to talk too much over how much this album means to the band, but in short, this is the last album Metallica created before bassist Cliff Burton was tragically killed in a car crash in Sweden (not too far off from where I live actually), so it obviously has a special place in the hearts of the other members. Most just might not notice the contribution of Burton all too much, since he is a bass player, but his musical knowledge is crucial to a lot of the songs Metallica has done, it is what made them so dynamic and diverse. It is safe to say that the band was never the same after Cliff left our world.

Anyway, more about "Master of Puppets". Just like its predecessor, "Master of Puppets" is chock full of great tracks that just took the thrash metal genre to whole new levels, both increasing the intensity, but also taking it to a more diverse direction. Just take the title track as the perfect example, with its 8 and a half minute run time it is almost classified as a progressive metal track, but it is still rooted in thrash thanks to its incredible riffs and aggressive chorus. It is a multi layered song that you could dissect for hours on end.

Close to all 8 tracks on this record are just fantastic, showing off different tricks that makes Metallica so great. We got "Battery" as a strong, aggressive opener that just destroys you with its galloping main riff and insane solos, but "Disposable Heroes" does exist too to finish off the left overs, pummeling with that intense riffing speed. "Damage Inc." brings some heavy pieces too, while the double sandwich "The Thing That Should Not Be" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" slows down the album in two different ways, with the former being creepy and ominous, and the latter more deceiving before going into a nice finishing move in the form of a solo. They both bring a nice variety to the album.

Then we have the two low points of the album, still good tracks that just does not match up to the rest of its brethren. First is "Leper Messiah", which is just weak in its execution. It does not have much power to it, and while the solo is nice, it just does not have the same quality as the other solos on the record. Then we have the instrumental "Orion", which seems to be fairly beloved by the public, for reasons I do not understand. Personally, I think "The Call of Ktulu" is a much better instrumental track, because it has so much emotion behind it. Sure, "Orion" is more diverse, but it also has several dull moments in it that I simply cannot get behind. It is a decent instrumental, but it is no where near the quality of its predecessor.

So if we get back to the debate, I think I have to stay with the "blue" side of the argument. While "Master of Puppets" is a masterful record in all its means, it just does not have the same consistency as its predecessor in my books. It might have a higher high point, but with simple math, we can see that having two mediocre songs is not better than just having one. Still, "Master of Puppets" do deserve every praise that it has gotten over the years, it is a classic thrash record that still holds very well today. It is certainly a master that we would love to come back to time and time again.

Songs worthy of recognition: Master of Puppets, Battery, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Disposable Heroes

Rating: 9/10 Leper Messiahs

More reviews of Metallica
Kill 'em All
Ride The Lightning
...And Justice For All
St. Anger
Death Magnetic
Hardwired... To Self-Destruct

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