February 24, 1986



heavy metal


“Some critics have called Master of Puppets the best heavy metal album ever recorded; if it isn't, it certainly comes close.” – Steve Huey, All Music Guide

Album Tracks:

  1. Battery
  2. Master of Puppets
  3. The Thing That Should Not Be
  4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  5. Disposable Heroes
  6. Leper Messiah
  7. Orion
  8. Damage, Inc.

Sales (in millions):




Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Master of Puppets (7/2/86) --
  • Battery (8/5/86) –
  • Welcome Home (Sanitarum) (10/30/86) --


Master of Puppets



Master of Puppets “was the realization of all the promise Metallica, and thrash metal music in general.” GW However, the album’s true testament is that it has been “hailed as a masterpiece by critics far outside heavy metal’s core audience.” AMG

It “didn’t take as gigantic a leap forward as Ride the Lightning,” AMG but “feels more unified, both thematically and musically.” AMG “Instead of a radical reinvention, [it] is a refinement of past innovations.” AMG “Metallica didn’t bother with hooks or pop discipline” TL but stuck with their trademark “whiplash rhythms and stinging guitars.” UT “On their final recording with bassist Cliff Burton (who would die in a tour bus accident) they reinforced everything good about heavy metal (the velocity of the playing, the emotional release of the vocals) while undermining at least a few of the cliches.” TL

“Through its many stylistic changes, the Bay Area heavy rock quartet has expanded metal’s ritualistic pummeling with music of impressive, even daunting, intricacy. Its dense textures establish connections between metal’s Sturm und Drang and the percussive string ensemble passages of major symphonic works.” TM “Drummer Lars Ulrich plays like a technical demon whose job is to irritate the others. And lead guitarist Kirk Hammett pushes right back, giving the up-tempo thrash of ‘Damage, Inc.’ its outsized (but never gratuitously theatrical) menace.” TM The whole thing is “propelled by hiccuping odd-meter syncopations and other devices, all wound up tight and played a touch faster than safe speed.” TM It feels like a “horror-movie soundtrack.” TB

“Metallica fully recasts metal as thinking-person’s music.” TM “Focusing on the concept of power and abuses thereof, this is a collection of complex, intelligent music, played at about a hundred miles an hour.” AZ “In tackling various approaches to their subject, Metallica is insightful lyrically as well as musically: Welcome Home (Sanitarium) is from the point of view of an institutionalized inmate and Disposable Heroes is the perspective of a soldier.” AZ

“They also got in digs at…head banging conformists” TL “and, in true H.P. Lovecraft fashion, sometimes monsters.” AMG Other songs are about “primal, uncontrollable human urges” like rage and drug use. AMG For instance, “the title track was unmistakably anti-drug – ‘Chop your breakfast on a mirror/ Taste me you will see/ More is all you need/ You’re dedicated to how I’m killing you.’” TL That song also exemplifies how “the band plays metal as modern-day classical music, offering up harmonically and structurally complex arrangements that convey a stunning range of ideas and emotions.” GW

“Everything about it feels blown up to epic proportions (indeed, the songs are much longer on average);” AMG “this eight-song album clocks in at over an hour, which makes it all the more impressive that not one moment on this recording is boring.” AZMaster shows how thrilling metal can be when its fully torqued.” TM “The arrangements are thick and muscular, and the material varies enough in texture and tempo to hold interest through all its twists and turns.” AMG “By bookending the album with two slices of thrash mayhem” AMG – the “requistite barnstormers” GW Battery and Damage, Inc. a – “the band reigns triumphant through sheer force – of sound, of will, of malice.” AMG

Despite the complexity of the music, “few songs sound as if they are comprised of any more than the four members of Metallica playing together.” TB Like predecessor Ride the Lightning, the album was produced by Flemming Rasmussen, who had previously engineered works by Cat Stevens and Bert Jansch. His only “previous heavy-metal production experience lay with Rainbow’s Difficult to Cure (1981), but his uncluttered style is perfect for the visceral assault of Metallica.” TB

“It’s the band’s first consistent set of songs” TM as Metallica “unites the fury and the finesse in a bludgeoning attack that is viscerally thrilling, and at the same time really smart.” TM It is “thrash metal’s finest moment” GW and has even been called “the best heavy metal album ever recorded; if it isn’t, it certainly comes close.” AMG

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Link(s):

Master of Puppets (video)

Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (video)

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Last updated February 23, 2012.