Originally released in 1986, Master Of Puppets saw Metallica finetune the vision of Ride The Lightning into an unqualified masterpiece, a pummelling showcase of force and velocity that boasted longer tracks, dizzying tempo shifts and a stunning range of emotion. Behind a flawless pantheon of hits that included the title track, Battery, Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and Disposable Heroes, it became Metallica’s first platinum record, eventually selling more than 10 million copies worldwide. It also marked their final album with the late Cliff Burton.
Rare is the re-release that truly stuns. Most play out as cheap cash-grabs that serve up a few barely noticeable tweaks and a handful of forgettable extras. But this is Metallica and unsurprisingly, they’ve gone all in with a wide array of formats, including this limited edition boxed set that’s bursting at the seams with succulent goodies. The remasters themselves erupt with piercing new vitality. While taut, ultra-compressed riffs and speedfreak tempos dominated the sound of the original release, these expansive versions separate the tracks a bit more, unveiling a crisp clarity and previously obscure dynamics that highlight the material’s astonishing depth. There are two discs of interviews conducted around album’s release, including an absurdly entertaining one with an ornery Cliff Burton, wherein he flatly says, “Master…, I think, is the best Metallica song yet.” Other discs contain rough mixes, the warts’n’all recordings from former bassist Jason Newsted’s first audition, four shows from the first leg of the Master Of Puppets tour and two discs of riffs, demos and rehearsals. There’s a real fly-on-the-wall sense when listening to these archival moments that capture Metallica’s creative energy during their seminal era. Part time capsule, part remaster and part oral history, this is the definitive statement of one of the most important albums in the history of rock’n’roll.