Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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Master of Puppets



A breakthrough that brought thrash metal from the fringes into the mainstream.

With 1984’s Ride the Lightning, Metallica found themselves caught between the worlds of underground purity and mainstream recognition, the bruising and brutal outsider art of thrash metal starting to make its way inside. Its successor, Master of Puppets, was even more intense—in speed, in aggression, in its hostility toward forces of control—yet its appeal managed to be even broader; their days in vans were numbered.

For all its precision, Master of Puppets still feels like the product of the basement or garage. And where the boys’ nights out of Van Halen and Mötley Crüe promise relief (through girls, through drugs, through sheer lack of inhibition), Metallica played with the restlessness of someone in the grips of spiraling negative thoughts—whether about war (“Disposable Heroes”), addiction (“Master of Puppets”), religious evangelism (“Leper Messiah”), or the failure of mental health care (“Welcome Home [Sanitarium]”).

Never before had music this extreme found an audience so big—and never since has Metallica had one so small. Within the next half decade they would become one of the biggest bands in the world, full stop, bringing anger and alienation out of the shadows and into stadiums.