"We knew it was provocative and we knew that it might not be accepted by anyone": Metallica's Kirk Hammett revisits the making of Master Of Puppets

Metallica in 1985
(Image credit: Randy Bachman/Getty Images)

Kirk Hammett has revisited the making of Metallica's classic Master Of Puppets album, and stated "we knew we were on to something."

Metallica's guitarist discusses the creation of the San Francisco-based band's third long-player during a wide-ranging interview with podcaster Rick Beato. The album was recorded at Copenhagen's Sweet Silence studios, with producer Flemming Rasmussen, in the winter of 1985: it would be the final album that the band recorded with bassist Cliff Burton, who was tragically killed in a coach crash on the group's 1986 European tour. 

Hammett's reflections on the making of the record come when Beato asks the guitarist to nominate the Metallica album where the songs and production came together exactly as he had imagined. The guitarist instantly replies "Master of Puppets", and points out that this was the point where the band were "peaking with Cliff Burton".

"Master of Puppets, for me, it's a very sentimental album," says Hammett. "We knew we were on to something, you know, and we knew it was provocative, and we knew that it might not be accepted by anyone but we were fully a thousand percent committed to it, you know, every single note. And we had to be really, and I think it shows."

"When I revisit it now, you know, I get flooded by a bunch of memories," Hammett continues. "Even when you're just playing The Thing That Should Not Not Be, I remember that was the last song we finished on that album, writing, and you know we finished it in the studio. And I remember I had 45 minutes to do that guitar solo because I had to leave for the airport and I thought to myself, I better fucking get this guitar solo in 45 minutes or else I'm going to be staying in Copenhagen for a little bit longer than I anticipated!"

Of the album itself, Hammett says, "arrangement wise, songwriting wise, sonically, playing wise, we coalesced in a way that we had not coalesced at that point, you know. And it makes me wonder what ...And Justice For All would have been like with Cliff."

Speaking of his memories of the late bassist, Hammett says that Burton was writing "amazing stuff."

"Because we roomed together I would sit there and watch him play his detuned classical guitar and he'd play the weirdest, craziest stuff, really weird stuff, you know. And then he'd put on this Les Paul copy and start playing along to like Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. And I'd get annoyed after a while because he'd stop the track and point out the Ed King solo, and go, 'What's he doing there? Do you know what he's doing?' I'd go, Yeah, and then he'd say 'Please show it to me'. And then I'd have to show him like, a basic like guitar thing, and then he would play it, but like he'd play it for like the next three hours, over and over. He used to drive me crazy, but you know that was his process."

Watch the full interview with Hammett below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.