As thrash legends Metallica return with a new album, ‘72 Seasons’, Rock Candy Mag goes back to 1986 to look at the band’s classic ‘Master Of Puppets’ over 14 pages. Guitarist Kirk Hammett discusses the making of the album, how it changed Metallica’s career trajectory, and how he looks back on ‘Master…’ today.
“We weren’t trying to make an album that 35 or so years on people would put on and think still sounded great,” Hammett tells Rock Candy Mag editor Howard Johnson. “We didn’t set out to do anything, really. We were just trying to make the best album we possibly could and that’s what came out.”
Released on 3 March 1986, ‘Master Of Puppets’ was the thrash band’s third album – recorded in Denmark with producer Flemming Rasmussen – and it went on to sell over six million copies in the US alone.
“From a technical viewpoint, when I listen to the album I’m really surprised at how good it sounds so long after the fact,” says Hammett. “The recording of the album, the recording of the songs, the production… it all holds up still.”
‘Master Of Puppets’ proved to be Cliff Burton’s swansong with Metallica. The bassist sadly died on 27 September 1986 in a coach accident while on tour promoting the album.
“Cliff’s contribution to ‘Master Of Puppets’ was very melodic and very musical,” explains Hammett. “His contribution wasn’t so much the big heavy riffs. It was all melody bass, and it was a lot of really, really cool stuff. When Cliff went it was the end of an era, and we all knew it. We knew it.”
More than 35 years after it was first released, ‘Master Of Puppets’ is an acknowledged classic of the thrash genre and proudly sits in the US Library Of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry on account of being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Hammett thinks he knows why.
“A lot of the music from that time now sounds samey and similar,” he says. “But there’s really nothing on ‘Master Of Puppets’ that dates it to any particular period – sound-wise, production-wise, recording-wise. ‘Master Of Puppets’ is my favourite of all the albums we’ve ever done.”
You can read our 14-page Metallica special, together with fascinating stories about L.A. Guns, Kansas, Bad English, Winger and many others in issue 37 of Rock Candy Mag. For more details visit www.rockcandymag.com.