Talk to any hardcore fan of Metallica — or any fan of heavy metal in general — and you’ll find them saying the band’s greatest musical moment came on their third effort, ‘Master of Puppets.’ Last week, the group announced they will reissue the record Nov. 10 on their own Blackened Recordings in multiple configurations.
Coming on the heels of the 1984 album ‘Ride the Lightning,’ ‘Master of Puppets’ was released in early March of 1986 and features head-banging classics like “Battery,” “Damage Inc.” and the title track. There are just eight songs in total, but with a running time of nearly 55 minutes, there are only two tracks less than five and a half minutes.
‘Puppets’ is full of razor sharp riffing, lyrics covering topics from war to drug addiction and song structures that blew the mind of metalheads around the world when it came out. The album is also the last to feature bassist Cliff Burton, who died in a tragic bus accident later that year. He’s got his own showcase in the song “Orion,” a nonstop groove assault.
Looking back, it’s no surprise that ‘Puppets’ would become the first Metallica album to be certified platinum by the RIAA, currently clocking in at six times platinum in the United States and having sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Last year, it became the first metal album to be added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, an honor granted to works deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
The reissue of the record has been remastered for the most advanced sound quality and will be available in various forms both digitally and physically from $11.99 to $174.99 for the deluxe box set. Those who pre-order the standard album will receive an instant download of the remastered “Disposable Heroes.” For fans who pre-order the expanded or deluxe editions will receive an instant download of the remastered “Disposable Heroes” and “The Thing That Should Not Be,” with the latter coming from a show at the Aragon Ballroom in May of 1986 in Chicago.
Configurations of the reissue will be available physically as a standard LP, standard CD, three CD expanded edition, and limited edition deluxe box set and digitally as a standard CD — available to stream and download — a three CD expanded edition available for download only, and a digital deluxe box set, also available for streaming and download.
The expanded edition will include previously unreleased demos, rough mixes, interviews, live tracks, and a 28-page booklet. The limited edition deluxe box set will include a 108-page hardcover book including never before seen photos, outtakes and previously unreleased interviews, three LPs, ten CDs, a cassette, two DVDs, a lithograph, a folder with handwritten lyrics, and a set of six buttons.
Whenever people talk about a band’s best album — especially when said band is the stature of Metallica — there are bound to be fighting words with a lengthy discourse to follow. The obvious answer is their self-titled 1991 work commonly referred to as ‘The Black Album,’ and while that is their best seller by far at 30 plus million worldwide.
It also brought them mainstream acceptance with the singles “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters.” Yet when it comes to the genre they pioneered, thrash metal, there’s little argument that ‘Master of Puppets’ is where Metallica hit their pinnacle. No one else comes close.
To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out his blog at www.thechroniclesofmc.com