Q #1,982: MOMENT OF METAL #193 – watch my video here for the clue!
Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ is perhaps one of the most historically revered metal albums ever to be released. Having been certified 6X Platinum by the RIAA in the United States (and their first Gold record), their third studio album has continually received similar accolades around the world. Sadly, it’s the last studio album with bassist Cliff Burton, who passed away on September 27th, 1986 while the band was traveling in Sweden while touring in support of this album.
The album was recorded with producer Flemming Rasmussen at Sweet Silence Studios in Denmark. Metallica wanted to up their production game, and take their songs to another level after their previous two successful albums. They entered the studio with much of the album completed in high grade demo form, and only did minimal arrangement work to the songs in the studio. Despite taking longer than expected to complete the recording, the band was not hung up on writing, just the execution of the material.
For an album that has become so important to influence and shape generations of metal musicians and fans alike, not everyone was as keen on the release when it came out in 1986. Yes, it seems that purists were a thing before that giant megaphone called the Internet! Spin Magazine tipped their hat to the band’s production and experimentation, but ultimately felt it was a disappointment. There is no truth, however, to the rumor that that particular reviewer is now on a bowling team with the visionary who said the Beatles would never amount to anything, or the folks who said the iPod would flop.
Aside from the millions of records sold, and the inclusion on a massive amount of “Best of” lists, the United States Library of Congress recently added the album to be preserved in its National Recording Registry. Less than 500 albums have ever been included, and Metallica is the very first of any metal-leaning acts.
The focus of today’s Moment Of Metal was the song ‘Disposable Heroes,’ which opened Side B of the album and punches you right in the face. The opening riffs compounded by some thunderous drums, really stand out on an album full of greatest hits material. The sound of the track really captures the essence of the vocal passages, where the two seem to really gel and help create more of a sonic landscape as opposed to music juxtaposed to lyrics.
At some point over the years I remember hearing that a bridge section of ‘Disposable Heroes’ was removed and ended up being used in ‘Battery.’ Maybe I heard this at the same conspiracy theorist convention where Dave Mustaine previously laid claim to parts of ‘Leper Messiah.’
There was even a conversation between Lars Ulrich and Rush legend Geddy Lee about working together, before the release of ‘Master of Puppets.’ So there is an astronomical butterfly effect – would ‘Master of Puppets’ have tanked with Lee at the helm? Would the band’s already progressive tendencies on the record have been overly indulged, or mastered? Could Geddy Lee have been to Metallica what Steven Wilson was to Opeth on ‘Blackwater Park?’