Vinyl Rewrite- Metallica: Master of Puppets(1986)


Metallica really first came across my radar in early 1985 when a Canadian magazine called Metallion was raving about this band from California.

Then a few months later I was at A&A Records (long since defunct) and purchased two records that day. One was Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers release which was the 5 old British Geezers reunion album and the other one was Ride The Lightning by Metallica who were a hell of a lot younger than Deep Purple, to say the least.

Both albums were awesome but Metallica kind of blew my mind as these guys weren’t that much older than me as I was 17 at the time yet here are these four long hairs writing tunes musically/lyrically like Fade To Black. James Hetfield blew my mind that he knew how to handle the English Vocabulary with his lyrics as I was just trying to pass Grade 13 English back in 86!

I knew and many knew as well that Metallica was a band on the fast track to superstardom.

So in March 1986 drops into the Record Shops Master of Puppets and it was an easy purchase which I bought on cassette for the trusty old Walkman at the time.

1986, let’s think about that year musically in the Hard Rock Spectrum for a second.

Lot’s of Hard Rock was coming out that year in which I was trying to keep up. Judas Priest had the Synthy driven Turbo album and even my Homeboys Iron Maiden went synthy on the brilliant Somewhere In Time release.

Here in Thunder Bay, some new bands were entering my radar in 1986 three of which come to my mind right away are Europe’s The Final Countdown, Poison’s Look What The Cat Dragged In and Tesla with Mechanical Renonsnance.

That was the Hard Rock stuff. Even my pal Tbone was exploring those as well and was digging Huey Lewis And The News with the Fore release and Loverboy with there Loving Every Minute of It album.

I was a little concerned with Tbone shifting musical directions as I thought “Is he going all in Top 40?’ but by 1987 Tbone was back once The Cult hit the streets with the fantastic Electric album.  Tbone dabbled in other areas of music and rehabbed himself musically even after the Y&T Down For The Count debacle as well in 1986.

Sorry, I’m fast-forwarding here. Need to rewind a bit back

I guess what I’m trying to get at was Metallica went for a very dry sounding heavy record and they succeded on many levels. Master of Puppets sonically sounds the exact opposite of what everything else was sounding that came out in 1986.

Even the cover is a grave reminder(get it?) that not all music had to be happy go lucky (Hello Poison) as the cover is dark in nature. Even the back cover shots. They look tough in a 1986 way. Love that stadium shot from the backstage area. Just the pics alone pull you in.

No Hard Rock Gloss more like a Fist To The Face in the songs as opener Battery proves nice little classical guitar opening than the slam of the guitars. A complete wall of sound as the Bass/Drums and vocals and lyrics of James Hetfield make you take notice.

Lashing out the action, returning the reaction
Weak are ripped and torn away
Hypnotizing power, crushing all that cower
Battery is here to stay.  

Smashing through the boundaries
Lunacy has found me
Cannot stop the battery
Pounding out aggression
Turns into obsession
Cannot kill the battery
Cannot kill the family
Battery is found in me

The whole album just rips at such a huge clip!

The second song is the title track that being Master of Puppets which in all its just over 8 minutes takes you on a sonic journey with all kinds of tempo changes throughout. Love that breakdown and buildup before the song lifts off again into the solo.

The Thing That Should Not Be and Welcome Home Sanitarium(songs 3 and 4 respectively) have Metallica taking their foot off of the gas pedal in tempo for the most part.  The Thing That Should Not Be crawls along with real cool verses and choruses while Welcome Home Sanitriuom picks up the pace somewhat especially when Kirk Hammett(before he fell in love with the wah pedal) lays done a brilliant solo.

Speaking of which that’s all Kirk did was show up to the studio and play solos as Hetfield handled all the rhythms and only James. Back then that is. Did someone just holler out ‘Control”??

Side 1 is officially over, What a Power Surge!

Side 2 lifts off with Disposable Heroes. All 8 minutes and 17 seconds of it! Speed Metal did Metallica style. If you were fooled by the tempo of the last two songs on Side 1 think again as Disposable Heroes kicks your senses to the curb!

Leper Messiah has a groove similar to AC/DC but a quicker tempo mind you that goes out the door come solo time but Leper Messiah does not fool around at all.

James gets to rest his larynx as the musical driven Orion plows through which is like if Geddy/Neil and Alex got into a bottle of Vodka washed it down with speed and jammed out a metal-like tune. Speaking of RUSH they are thanked in the credits of the album so three cheers to Metallica back in 86 for recognizing brilliance! Course there was the rumor floating around that Geddy was considered to produce this album. Imagine that? Rickenbachers Rejoice!

Damage Inc ends the album with a furious blitz of riffs n drums as Lars pounds those drums like artillery is going off! Frantic is the pace and basically the pace set forth by Metallica on this album.

In these Vinyl Rewrites, I usually don’t go song by song but once I started I couldn’t stop if I only wrote about half the songs that’s not cool either so… Thanks for sticking around to the end!

Not only did I mark this as a Vinyl Rewrite I included in another category(Impact ALbums) and that’s because when I first heard Master of Puppets in 1986 this was a sound I had never heard.

Sure there were other metal acts out at the time like Anthrax and Slayer but I didn’t really take to them. Well, Anthrax I did buy 1988’s State of Euphoria at the time (thanks HMO for the bonus tracks with the Anthrax reissue) and Slayer well just plain scared me! In Slayers defense they did an ass-kicker cover of In A Gadda Da Vida on the Less Than Zero soundtrack.

One last thing is I need to thank my daughter Lexie for buying Master of Puppets for me on vinyl this past Xmas.

We had a laugh as 3 out of the last 4 Xmas’s Lex has bought me Metallica albums for gifts (And Justice For All/Hardwired/Master of Puppets) without knowing there was a pattern developing.





22 thoughts on “Vinyl Rewrite- Metallica: Master of Puppets(1986)”

  1. Oh what a fantastic album “Master of Puppets” is! Definitely my favourite Metallica album. And it should be mandatory that they open every show with “Battery. ” That song is simply one of the best show/album openers of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great one Deke! I am a casual fan of Metallica’s which means I get in on the Black album. I haven’t spent enough time with the early releases, but that is changing. Hardwired got me interested in them again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 1986 had a lot of releases and as you said, the chainsaw sound of Metallica was so different from the hard rock sheen of Werman, Olsen and so forth. Not that the hard rock sheen was a bad thing. Well to me it wasn’t, I still liked it. lol.

    So a magazine called Metallion introduced you to Metallica. A love story right there, hey Deke. I have the same view that James was very grown up in his approach to lyric writing.

    I guess Y&T really knocked TBone out for the count with their release, hey, ahh well, I guess ” you cannnt turn backkk, the hands of time..” haha. Good to see that rehab worked. haha.

    The song titles. I love em. So different, very Iron Maiden’ish.

    And Rush was thanked because James pinched the Tom Sawyer riff for the outro of Welcome Home Sanitarium. I actually have a post on the Sanitarium song, and how even the main intro riff was taken from an obscure NWOBRHM band.

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow I never knew that James nixed Tom Sawyer. I gotta go and relisten to that tune. Good tid bit there sir!
      Y&T some brilliance there don’t get me wrong but yeah DFTC i need to revist that one. That one kind makes me nauseous hahaha.
      Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait until I review my 10 CD box set! That’ll be a rewrite…

    In 86 my friend Bob was spending the summer in Alberta. He was so excited to see OZZY! Not see excited to see the opening band “Metallica”. Ozzy ended up cancelling and he saw neither….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Geez Mikey that sucks.
      I had a chance to see that tour as well in Minneapolis. I was in Grade 13 and some guys were going down to see the show and I was like on the fence about it and thought I’ll see Metallica next time around,so I passed on it. Than Cliff a few months died and it was damn…
      I never made that msitake ever again. If a show came up I went. No fence sitting.


  5. Brilliant write up Deke. Made me want to listen to it. I first listened to Metallica when they released Load (which I like), but Black and Re-Load put me off listening any further.

    It was only a few years ago that I listened again… my pal giving me a bunch of CDs… and I slowly worked my way through them.

    Lulu aside, this is my favourite Metallica moment. Absolutely no question. It’s brilliant stuff.


  6. Happy New Year. Metallica. I feel like I should like them more than I do. Certainly really like some of their stuff, but there is something about them as a whole that I find irritating. Kind of like Skynyrd. I appreciate their contributions, like a bunch of their songs, but just can’t say I like them as a whole. Eh, is what it is. Good post anyway. Rock on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year to you as well Brother Jeff!
      Hey,I’m glad your upfront as one cannot like everything so fair enough. I like the fact that they kind of did it there way and like RUSH didn’t take any shit from any outside influences.
      But I get where your coming from.

      Liked by 1 person

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