This is Metallica’s most popular record. This is the album that made them a force to be reckon with in the metal scene. While it’s only has eight tracks, it’s still a killer album even over 20 years later. This is a heavy and intense album that is sure to get your blood boiling. All the songs are great and the music is killer. Though this is basically a thrash record, it’s probably the best thrash record since the 80’s.
“Battery” opens this metal record. It begins with a slow, melodic acoustic guitar riff that sounds similar to a latin guitar or as if it comes from a Western movie. Though it starts off slow, it grows bigger and bigger before it explodes in a mass of distortion and racing riffs. There’s heavy guitars and drums throughout the entire song that makes you want to run out and get a guitar just to play the song. It’s a great energetic, heavy song that’s a perfect way start to the album.
The infamous “Master of Puppets” comes next with it’s recognizable riff and it’s this riff that really drives the song. What’s amazing about the guitar playing is that there are so many different riffs playing, yet they still manage to come together to form a cohesive song. It doesn’t sound like a bunch of songs put together. It’s an epic track that sounds overpowering, which perfectly fits the topic of the song. While it’s the most popular song on the record there are other great ones to be found here.
One great song with heavy lyrics and subject matter is “Disposable Heroes.” It has an intense, powerful riff that actually manages to sound like marching footsteps. The lyrics talk about soldiers who are sent out into battle with no regard for their lives and how they are easily replaced as if a human life doesn’t matter. With such a sensitive topic, it’s no surprise that the song has an aggressive tone and such attitude behind it. Not to mention how catchy it is when Hetfield sings “Back to the front!”
Another amazing song is “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).” It’s the slowest track on the album, but it’s just as intense as the others. It begins with a somber melodic riff that sets the dark tone. From here, Hetfield quietly sings about being isolated from others, feeling trapped, and wanting to lash out at the world. His vocals are amazing here. He starts off singing softly, which makes him sound vulnerable and hurt. Before the verse is through, he gets louder until he’s flat out angry and on the verge of screaming. It’s a dark song that makes the listener feel like they’re trapped in the mind of someone going mad.
The music is intense, heavy, fast and insane. The guitar playing can get so blazing fast, it’s hard to keep up with it at times. The drums are also killer, with how hard and forceful Ulrich hits the kit. And though the bass can’t be heard all that well in this album, there are a few songs where it’s noticeable. One song you can hear the bass on is “Leaper Messiah.” It can’t be hard extremely well, but it plays beneath the dirty guitar riff and adds a bit of a groove to the track. You can also hear it on the instrumental “Orion.” Since it adds more heaviness and even a groove at times, it would’ve been better if the bass was featured in the mix more often.
Though this may be a great album and is often touted as one of the best by the band, it’s essentially a thrash record. The guitars are played fast and hard and never really slow down. Only on the instrumental track does the guitar playing sound different. It’s more melodic and even sounds sensual. It’s not like the music is bad, but if there would’ve been more variety in the playing it would’ve improved the album a bit. There’s only so much you can say about music that’s fast and loud. But to be fair Metallica was a thrash metal band before they decided to add variety to their sound.
Overall, the album gets 9/10. All the songs are killer and intense. The album will get you pumped because it’s filled with so much energy. All the songs have such an attitude behind them that you can actually hear Hetfield spitting out the lyrics. The music is stellar and really aggressive. Though it’s a typical thrash record, it’s still one of the best metal records ever made. It’s a classic that’s held up well over the years.