Album Review: Master Of Puppets

Master Of Puppets, by Metallica

By the time they were beginning work on their third album, Metallica had moved from the minor leagues to a larger label, and their earlier albums had slowly grown into popular albums that demonstrated that there were a lot of people listening to and appreciating their music. As is natural with such a career trajectory, Metallica demonstrated considerable ambition in their third album, showing at least with regards to the production of the album that a bit more time and lessons from their previous efforts were paying off in more polished songwriting and recording. The band had not necessarily learned in other aspects of their lives, riding high off of their rising career and acquiring a reputation for hard living and chaotic behavior with regards to their concert performances. At any rate, though, this was an album that both sold immensely well and also became an important cultural album, such that it has attracted the attention of music historians as well as the Library of Congress. So how does it sound to me? Let’s see.

“Battery” begins the album with some classy Spanish guitar instrumentation that moves into a powerful hard rock intro, and a potent thrash rock song that discusses the evil use of technology and the narrator’s attempts to avoid being part of the problem himself. This is followed by the eight-minute epic title track, which recently found itself having some chart success as a single, with its scorching hostility towards those who misrule society through fear and control, which is certainly relevant in the current age, before the song transitions into a more melodic hard rock song. “The Thing That Should Not Be” continues the album’s themes of hostility against the corrupt and evil powers that should not be with a strong concern about the insanity that results from their evil. “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” continues the theme of insanity with its expression of a desire to be left alone, with excellent lyrics and instrumentation, and expressing the struggle to attain sound mental health. “Disposable Heroes” reflects a cynicism about those who are viewed as heroes in preserving a corrupt government and social system, looking at how their lives are thrown away to accomplish the plans of wicked leaders. “Leper Messiah” reflects a certain amount of disdain and hostility towards a false messiah, but it is not exactly clear what the narrator is really talking about even if religious deception is clearly a big part of the song’s intended message. “Orion” has a lengthy but beautiful instrumental opening that about four minutes in transitions to a section that is heavily distorted and a bit unsettling, but that becomes a beautiful and melodic hard rock instrumental. “Damage Inc,” somehow the only song on here with an explicit lyrics warning, begins slowly before moving into a thrash second intro, and some harsh lyrics that seems to be blaming the victims of corporate exploitation, for some reason.

Given the immediate cultural impact of this album, it is clear that Metallica released an album that resonated with the general public. Indeed, this album is more relevant today than it was even in 1986, with our corrupt political elite, the very open way that they deliberately plan for the death of many millions of people and seek the depopulation of much of the globe, the disposability of soldiers in the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, from the scourge of drug addiction and powerlessness and incompetent and tyrannical authority that misrules contemporary society, and the catastrophic damage this has had on the mental health of ordinary people. There is no doubt that this album speaks to a genuinely evil aspect of society that exists here and now, but there is doubt as to whether Metallica themselves recognize this work as having contemporary relevance and in their being the best sort of people to speak out against the evils decried in this album. Indeed, the band’s own chaotic behavior would indicate that they do not have a righteous position from which to stand and speak out against the evil of others, especially evident in the critical attitude several songs on this album have about chaotic evil tendencies that the band was certainly not immune from.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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