Master of Puppets is the third studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica. The album was recorded in 1985 and released by Elektra Records on March 3, 1986 in North America.
Now widely considered a classic of thrash metal, the album proved to be a modest commercial success upon its release by reaching #29 on the U.S. Billboard 200, making it the very first thrash metal album to crack the Top 40. With the band's rising popularity from the release of …And Justice for All, awareness of the album has increased, and according to the RIAA, it has sold over six million copies in the U.S. alone. It was the last album the band recorded with bass player Cliff Burton, who died in a tour bus crash six months after it was released.
The band's line-up during the album's recording was James Hetfield
on vocals and rhythm guitar, Lars Ulrich
on drums, Kirk Hammett
on lead guitar, and Cliff Burton
on bass. The album is remembered in part due to the death of Burton shortly after the release of the album in a bus accident
while supporting the album on tour.
When it was released, Master of Puppets provided many metal fans with an alternative image to the commercially popular glam metal bands, such as Poison, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, and Ratt. The album has frequently been tagged by critics as "one of the most influential heavy metal albums of all time.
As an early parody of the PMRC's "explicit lyrics" warning labels, many prints of Metallica's 1986 release of Master of Puppets sported a sticker on the front in the shape of a stop-sign saying:
- "The only track you probably won't want to play is "Damage, Inc." due to the multiple use of the infamous "F" word. otherwise, there aren't any "Shits," "Fucks," "Pisses," "Sucks," "Cunts," "Motherfuckers," or "Cocksuckers" anywhere on this record"
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its release, Metallica played the album in its entirety on their Escape from the Studio '06 tour, for the first time ever at the Rock am Ring festival on June 3, 2006. These concerts included the first-ever complete performances of the instrumental "Orion" (though portions of the song's lengthy middle section had been performed at various times as part of instrumental medleys and bass solos since the early 1990s).
The title track was ranked Number 51 in the "The Greatest Guitar Solos" from Guitar World. In 2006, the album was voted the fourth "greatest guitar album of all time" in Guitar World.
And the April 5, edition of Kerrang! was dedicated to it, providing readers with the cover album "Master of Puppets: Remastered". In March 2007, the guitar magazine Total Guitar ranked the 100 greatest riffs of all time, and the main riff in the album's title track was ranked number one.
Former Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine has long claimed to have written the riff for "Leper Messiah". Metallica has denied it.
Upon its release, Master of Puppets
was immediately commercially successful, selling over half a million copies at its time of release without any major video/radio airplay, making it the band's first record to be certified Gold by the RIAA
According to Allmusic's Steve Huey, Master of Puppets "was the band's greatest achievement." "Some critics have called Master of Puppets the best heavy metal album ever recorded", Huey noted. Master of Puppets has featured on several "greatest albums of all time" lists. The album is present in a list dubbed "The All-TIME 100 Albums" and published by TIME magazine in November 2006. In TIME critic Josh Tyrangiel's opinion, "Metallica didn't bother with hooks or pop discipline" in writing Master of Puppets. Metal Rules rated the album as being number one in a list of the "Top 100 Heavy Metal Albums" published in September 2003, whereas IGN also rated the album as being at first position in a list of the "Top 25 Metal Albums" issued in January 2007. It is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, and Q magazine counted it among the 50 heaviest albums of all time.
|| Position |
|| 29 |
|| UK Albums Chart
|| 41 |
|| Australian ARIA Top 50 Albums Chart
|| 33 |
A number of bands have covered songs from the album. These include:
- Several bands, including Mastodon, Machine Head, Funeral for a Friend and Bullet For My Valentine, recorded a tribute album for the twentieth anniversary of the album's release; the project was sponsored by Kerrang! and copies were distributed with the magazine.
- Trivium who has covered the title track both live and in studio. It has appeared on both their Ascendancy Special Edition album and the tribute album for the 20th Anniversary of the albums release.
- Machine Head released Battery as a bonus track on its special edition version of The Blackening album
- Dream Theater has covered the entire album in a live concert, something they have also done for other historically significant progressive or metal albums, including Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast, Deep Purple's Made in Japan, and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Dream Theater also covered Damage Inc. live at an 'uncovered' show, with Napalm Death singer Barney Greenway on vocals.
- Cello metal band Apocalyptica also recorded a cover of many Metallica songs including "Master of Puppets" in their album Plays Metallica by Four Cellos.
- Shai Hulud has covered the song "Damage Inc." for the series of 7 inches LPs as a tribute to Metallica called "Crush 'em All". The 7"
- Funk metal trio Primus has covered the title track live and "The Thing That Should Not Be" on their EP Rhinoplasty
- Scott D. Davis recorded a tribute album Pianotarium which includes "Master of Puppets", "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", and songs from other albums composed in solo grand piano.
- The Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela recorded a cover of the song Orion on their self-titled 2006 album using two acoustic guitars.
- The Scorched Earth Orchestra recorded a symphonic version of the entire album in 2007.
- The Sins of Thy Beloved covered the track "The Thing That Should Not Be" on their 2000 album Perpetual Desolation.
- Limp Bizkit performed a live cover of Welcome Home (Sanitarium) for the MTV Icon: Metallica tribute concert.
- The song "Battery" is featured in the music game Rock Band 2.
- "Master of Puppets," "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" "Orion" and the intro to "Battery" were performed on harp by the tribute duo Harptallica on their album Harptallica: A Tribute.