Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I had a copy of this on cassette as a young boy. Along the spine of the cardboard inlay and on the paper facia of the BASF tape it read 'Metalicca - Master of THE Puppets'. I now understand that there is only one way to spell Metallica but I stand by my original assertion that the record should have had a 'THE' in the title.

I bought my first 'real' copy used for £2.99 from Planet X Records of Chesterfield, it was the Music For the Nations single album first press so it played a lot quieter than subsequent double album remasters and didn't have the benefit of a gatefold sleeve, but then I supposed it was never really supposed to and the only real reason for the expansion of packaging, (later it graduated to a further expanded edition that might even have gone to 4 LPs) was top try and do justice to the music inside.

Twenty five years later I still don't like the sleeve, it's lazy and doesn't fairly represent the near timeless bombardment of awesome fucking metal that lies await inside like a dormant mountain bear starved all winter. This is an album that everyone has heard, one that most of us have at some point owned at least once, so why does it need to be here? What's adventurous or remotely exciting about a record that consistently comes in the top 3 metal albums ever? Well I decided to include it as a polite knee under the table aimed in the direction of those of us who be it for aesthetic reasons, metal snobbery OR the fact that Lars Ulrich is a cunt refuse to give it the acclaim that it truly deserves.

'Master of Puppets' is a truly great metal album, unparalleled for the most part in its combination of brutality and melody. Yes if you dig too deep it's lyrically inept in parts and that it is the product of some very young pock-marked West Coast idiots is all too clear but if you can happily over-look this juvenility it's shockingly well rounded. 'Ride the Lightning' does come close to capturing what James and co succeeded in doing here but despite including some of the bands greatest songs it falls short due to production issues (Way too much high-end, the entire thing has a very mid-period Judas Priest feel) which is interesting because the production here is the very thing that makes it.

The other reason, without sounding too sentimental is that 'Master Of Puppets' is Cliff Burton's swan song, his final middle fingered salute to this world. Burton was Metallica, that they have soldiered on for over a half century without his guidance, grounding and true metal sensibilities is nothing short of shocking. It's not just the fact that he played the most awesome metal bass this side of Geezer Butler or that he wore flares and looked like Neil from 'The Young Ones'. Courtesy of his choice of t-shirts Cliff is also responsible for my introduction to the world of Hardcore (no, not that Hardcore) via the Misfits and an obsession with Zombie films by way of Dawn of the Dead that continues albeit at a slightly more sedate pace to this day.

So in closing I guess I have a lot to thank Metallica for and I think that deep down, even if you have seen that documentary you do too.

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