Review: Master of Puppets (Remastered)

There is not much else that needs to be said about the 1986 thrash metal classic, Master of Puppets. It is one of the most popular heavy metal records thirty years on and I’m pretty sure everyone who has heard of the album has a copy.

With the albums thirtieth anniversary passed, Metallica decided to continue their re-issue campaign with Master of Puppets. Personally speaking, I did not have the money nor the interest for the gigantic box-set. Instead, I went for the three disc collection and it was well worth it. The main album has been given very minute tweaks to give the sound a little extra kick, but not at the expense of the original sonics. Compared to Kill ‘Em All and Ride the LightningMaster of Puppets is a considerably better sounding disc with little to no audible artefacts and other loudness war issues. I think the Metallica‘s die hard fans will be more than pleased with the final product.

The most interesting feature that this three disc compilation has is in fact the second disc. This eleven track collection is full of early demos and rough drafts of the band’s classic. The quality is a hit or miss depending on the track, but actually hearing these rough editions is actually quite fascinating. The minute long synthesiser driven Leper Messiah that leads into Orion for example is pretty cool, especially the twin guitar riff at the six minute mark. This version of Orion is a must own, the rough mix gives the song more of an edge and it really plays towards my taste in sound. The early demo for Master of Puppets has a nice meaty sound and a fine alternative guitar solo, Damage, Inc. is quite humorous. The two minute long track features James Hetfield laying down his rhythm guitar parts whilst singing the vocal melody over the top. Whether it is intentional or not, it was quite fun to hear. The others are of lesser quality but still hold a place for collectors and those who love to hear such things.

Unfortunately, the heavily plugged live disc has left a lot to be desired. The disc is made up of fourteen tracks spanning 1986 and 1987 from the Master of Puppets tour. It is clear from the recordings that Metallica was on fire live that year, their performances (though sloppy) were energetic and very enjoyable. Sadly, the quality of the recordings is a major hit or miss. The first two tracks featuring Battery and the album title track are of near unlistenable quality, For Whom The Bell Tolls and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) have a lot of tape based issues and Fade To Black sounds downright awful. It is a shame really because as I said, the performances are quality and the tracks like Damage Inc and Ride The Lightning that only feature a minor tape hiss, all sound pretty damn good.

You can forgive a CD of demos for these kind of issues, but you’d think a band like Metallica who were making waves back in ’86 would have some good soundboard recordings at least. This live disc is what I was looking forward to the most and to say I am disappointed is an understatement. If I knew the quality would be this ropy, I would never have acquired a copy of the three disc collection.

Knowing what Metallica fans are like, they will adore this set. It definitely has some fun goodies and a classic album nicely remastered, that much is certain. But those of you who want clean cut live performances should look else where because you will not find it here.

Rating : 7 / 10

Where to buy :

Track Listing :

  1. Battery (CD1: Remastered)
  2. Master of Puppets (CD1: Remastered)
  3. The Thing That Should Not Be (CD1: Remastered)
  4. Welcome Home (CD1: Remastered)
  5. Disposable Heroes (CD1: Remastered)
  6. Leper Messiah (CD1: Remastered)
  7. Orion (CD1: Remastered)
  8. Damage, Inc. (CD1: Remastered)
  9. Battery (early June 1985 demo)
  10. Master of Puppets (late June 1985 demo) (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  11. The Thing That Should Not Be (September 1985 drum room demo) (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  12. Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (Late June 1985 demo) (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  13. Disposable Heroes (May 1985, Writing in Progress II) (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  14. Leper Messiah (1985, From James' riff tapes II) (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  15. Orion (November 1985, Work in progress rough mix) (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  16. Damage, Inc. (1985, from James' riff tapes) (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  17. The Money Will Roll Right In (Work in progress rough mix) (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  18. The Prince (Work in progress rough mix) (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  19. Metal Madness Magazine interview with Cliff (CD 2: Riffs, Demos, Rough Mixes and Interview)
  20. Batter ((Live at The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, NJ - April 21st, 1986)
  21. Master of Puppets (Live at The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, NJ - April 21st, 1986)
  22. For Whom The Bell Tolls (Live at Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA - August 3rd, 1986)
  23. Ride The Lightning (Live at Grugahalle, Essen, West Germany - January 25th, 1987)
  24. Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (Live at The Country Club, Reseda, CA - November 8th, 1986)
  25. The Thing That Should Not Be (Live at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL - May 25th, 1986)
  26. (Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth (Live at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL)
  27. Damage, Inc. (Live at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL - May 25th, 1986)
  28. Fade To Black (Fan Recording - Live at Solnahallen, Stockholm, Sweden)
  29. Seek & Destroy (Live at The Country Club, Reseda, CA - November 8th, 1986)
  30. Creeping Death (Live at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL - May 25th, 1986)
  31. The Four Horsemen (Live at Grugahalle, Essen, West Germany - January 25th, 1987)
  32. Am I Evil? (Live at Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA - August 3rd, 1986)
  33. Whiplash (Live at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL - May 25th, 1986)

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