|Metallica - Master of Puppets|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 13 July 1999|
| Performance 10 | Sound 9 |
AudioRevolution.com has only given a 10 performance to three records prior to DCC’s remastered Master of Puppets. Therefore, give its rating due weight when rushing out to invest in this 24-carat-gold rocker.
Master of Puppets, released in 1986, was the third studio album from San Francisco’s masters of heavy metal, Metallica. The lyrical content is dark, but not heavily satanic or ridiculous. Themes of the record focus on oppression and power, which spoke to me perfectly as a 14- year-old with raging hormones and a 100-watt Marshall combo amp. They are still relevant today, even though I have a smaller Marshall amp. I have never taken the lyrical content too seriously. I was always more driven by the sheer musical and rhythmic power of this record. Kirk Hammet and James Hetfield provide scorching guitar chops that build layer upon layer of energy. Lars Ulrich keeps pace with mind-boggling double bass drum fills that still amaze. Master of Puppets was also the last record featuring Cliff Burton, Metallica’s original bassist, who died in a tour bus accident. Cliff is featured on the bass solo instrumental "Orion" and provides a deep and powerful undertone to the entire record.
Master of Puppets is a no-holds-barred slamfest of an album, not to be confused with the more sensitive 1990s Metallica records. Songs such as "Battery," "Master of Puppets," "Disposable Heroes" and "Damage, Inc." are some of the most intense you’ll ever hear. Metallica defined and matured the hard rock genre with this record. They took their songwriting even farther on the next record, And Justice For All. Their records following And Justice For All came at a time when heavy metal was being attacked by grunge and the Seattle sound. For me, Justice and Master of Puppets have a raw energy found on records like Van Halen 1 and Led Zeppelin 2. They define not only the sound of a band but their entire genre of music.
The standard Master of Puppets CD has long been an audio demo of mine, but I have often criticized it for a harsh-sounding high-frequency response and lack of extended bass. I attributed most of the weaknesses to the inherent flaws of 16/44 CD. However, the DCC remaster on the 24-carat CD gives the music a warmer, more dynamic sound that is less fatiguing and sounds deeper and more musically engaging.
Master of Puppets is not a record you’ll want to sit down to listen to with a snifter of port to escape to another musical world. Master of Puppets is a hard-edged super rocker of the highest caliber. It is a perfect test of the sheer power of a real music playback system. I have been falling in love with this record all over again since I picked up this new version. I have strolled down memory lane countless times since, digging forgotten guitar riffs out of the musical storage in my brain so that I can play along with Kirk, James and the boys at impressive volumes. If you like it hard and loud, you must purchase the remastered DCC Master of Puppets. It is one of the top five best hard rock records ever and, with its new remastering, it is perhaps the best-sounding of its genre.