My older brother Dan was a fan of Metallica before me. I was in fifth grade, and it was considered strange to listen to Metallica at that age. I’d hear him listening to Master Of Puppets upstairs a lot.
One night, I couldn’t sleep, so I ran upstairs and stole it from his tape collection and put my stereo on my bed next to me. Then I just listened to it all night. I remember that specific night as being when I transformed into a music fan. That’s what it did for me. He never got the album back. I still have the tape – although I’ve probably paid for about eight copies too.
When I heard the opening bars of Battery it completely blew my mind. The whole album made me a believer. I like that it was heavy and brutal at some points, but that it was so beautiful at others. And I loved the way they had their finger-picked, clean, classical-influenced versions and then beat you over the head with the electric guitar in the chorus. It was like a heavy metal concerto; almost as if Bach had come down and assisted a metal band in writing an incredible album.
Everything about it was done exquisitely, but I’d say my favourite track is Orion. Whenever I hear that song, it reminds me of painting my parents’ porch at our home in Chicago.
I think losing Cliff Burton affected Metallica greatly. They were the world’s greatest band when they had Cliff Burton. They were still good with Jason Newsted, but it wasn’t the same. All their covers – the Garage Days records – were incredible though. And I loved …And Justice For All.
I’d probably still play air guitar to Master Of Puppets. And I did learn to play pretty much every song. I started playing guitar around the time I heard it. The first riff I worked out as Welcome Home (Sanitarium).
For me, it was all about James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett. Who did I prefer? That depends whether you’re into speedy solos or kick-ass rhythms. I like both. They complement each other. I think there’s some of the best rhythm guitar work in the world on that album. Hetfield was obviously the rhythm player, but they both played rhythm, so…
Sometimes when I’m running or working out, I’ll throw it on and it’ll get me going. But in total, I must have played it at least 1000 times…
Mark Tremonti was speaking to Henry Yates. Tremonti’s album Dust is out now through Fret12 Records.