Anti-war sentiment, anti-drug warnings and a musical album that transcends time

Iftekharul Islam | Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Since its formation, American heavy metal band Metallica created masterpiece songs that stood as precedents for every metal band in the future. ‘Master of Puppets’ is one such album that breaks the influence-metre.

Even though Metallica is known for its fast tempos and aggressive musicianship, they do know how to put meaningful thoughts into their music in the dark tone of heavy metal.

This album consists of eight tracks, where their themes range from various topics of violence, anti-war sentiments, struggling war veterans, drug addiction, and even Lovecraftian mythology.

Frontman and drummer of the band James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich respectively wrote the lyrics of these songs in their 20s, which shows the maturity of their songwriting talent.

The eponymous song of the album - Master of Puppets, is about drug addiction where the master is the drug and the addicted person is their puppet. Cleverly warning the fatality of drugs backed by memorable metal riffs made this song standout.

Though songs like ‘Disposable Heroes’ were about war veterans and opposing the useless deaths in war, Metallica didn’t stop from criticising the religious exploitation of people in ‘Leper Messiah.’

The first and last tracks of the album, ‘Battery’ and ‘Damage Inc.’ are about violence incited by the destructive side of humans. The bass intro of ‘Damage Inc.’ was the bassist Cliff Burton’s idea, who took inspiration from famed classical musicians like Johann Sebastian Bach’s ‘Come, Sweet Death.’

Also in the seventh track ‘Orion,’ the whole song was instrumental with no lyrics, which was rare in metal music. Guitar plays by James Hetfield and Kirk Hamett, drum fills by Lars, and incredible bass playing, including the solo by Cliff made this one of the most famous instrumentals in metal history.

Master of Puppets was the last album to feature Cliff Burton. He died in a bus accident in Sweden on tour to promote this very album. Although his career with the band spanned only three years, his creative and classical-inspired bass playing makes him one of the most influential bassists of all time.

Metallica contributed significantly to the thrash metal scene with this album in 1986, when this genre reached its peak with contributions from Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, making them the ‘Big Four’ of thrash metal.

Selling more than six million copies to this day, Master of Puppets became the most popular album of Metallica.

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