10 Things You Didn't Know About Metallica's 'Master of Puppets' (2022)

"Master of Puppets is my favorite album," Kirk Hammett enthused when we talked with him in 2017 about the watershed Metallica LP and the massive reissue the band was putting out at the time. "We culminated as a band onMaster of Puppets. Really! Everyone was kind of settled into their roles.Everyone was playing well. We knew what we were striving for, we knew what we could do, we knew each other's playing well, we knew our strengths. And it just kind of all culminated on this album."

Hammett is hardly the only person who would cite Puppets as their favorite Metallica record — the 1986 LP is hands down one of the Top 5 metal albums of all time, if not numero uno. The band were brash kids then, full of spit and fire, and they struck creative gold intuitively and magically, though not without a lot of hard work, too. Recording in drummer Lars Ulrich's native Denmark with producer Flemming Rasmussen, the Bay Area band crafted a masterpiece, working through the night, pulling from a wide array of influences, pushing each other and pulling in every trick they could think of. It was the beginning of Metallica,soon-to-be rock behemoth, and also the end of an era — the group's last recording before bassist Cliff Burton's untimely death. Below are 10 surprising facts, stories and trivia-ready tidbits about one of heavy music's most celebrated works.

1. Metallica recorded Master of Puppets in the dark — sort of
"For three months I don't think we saw daylight," Ulrich told us of the Master of Puppetssessions. The band would usually get started around 7 p.m. each day and work through the nighttil 4-6 a.m."This was like September, October, November, December — so in Denmark, if you wake up at 4 in the afternoon, it's already dark ... We never saw daylight for the whole time, and my main recollection [of the recording sessions] is just how dark it was!"

2. Cliff Burton "took" one of Hammett's solos in "Orion"
Hammett says that the second bass solo in Puppets' iconic instrumental track was originally a guitar solo before Burton unceremoniously claimed it. "I remember recording it in the studio, and then I left to go back to the East Coast and meet a girl or something, I don't know," Hammett recalled in 2017. "Cliff went back to the studio, and used that area to put his own solo on it — but he played, like, half of my licks that were in the original solo! It was the weirdest thing!" But the guitarist says there were no hard feelings: "It wasn't really much of an issue for me, because there were like four guitar solos in that song — it wasn't like he took the only one."

(Video) 5 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Master Of Puppets

3. David Bowie inspired the title of the song "Leper Messiah"
Glam-rock chameleon David Bowie was a somewhat unlikely influence on Metallica, as Hammett revealed on a 2016 episode of the One on One With Mitch Lafon podcast. In particular, he noted that the title of Master of Puppets cut "Leper Messiah" — a biting takedown ofcorrupt televangelists — was drawn from David Bowie's lyrics to "Ziggy Stardust," specifically the line "making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind, like a leper messiah."

4. Bowie was hardly the only non-heavy-music influence on Master of Puppets — Metallica were listening to a lot of Kate Bush,the Police and Simon & Garfunkel while writing the album, too
Aside from obvious influences including NWOBHM stalwarts Iron Maiden and Saxon and punk-rock rabble-rousers such as the Misfits and Discharge, the 'Tallica boys were also taking in much less headbangable sounds while composing Master of Puppets, which no doubt insinuated their way into the record. "[We listened] to a lot of Kate Bush," Hammett told us. "We'd discovered Kate Bush around that time. And we loved the Police — we listened to the Police all the time, because Cliff was a big fan of Stewart Copeland's drumming, and he loved the sound of his snare. He'd say, 'Oh, I love that snare!'" Ulrich says that they were even "finally appreciating Simon & Garfunkel for their amazing songwriting and harmonies."

(Video) If STRANGER THINGS Used These Songs Instead of Master of Puppets! (subscriber suggested)

5. Ulrich borrowed a snare drum fromDef Leppard's Rick Allen for Puppets
According toRasmussen, speaking to Rolling Stone, Ulrich was looking for a specific drum sound — that of a Ludwig Black Beauty snare — while in the studio. Since the only musician he knew who owned one was Def Leppard's Rick Allen, and he was recovering from the loss of his left arm in a car accident, Ulrichcalled up Allen's manager. "[Ulrich] said, 'Hey, Rick's not using the snare right now. Can you send it over?'" Rasmussen reports. "The next day it was there. They just overnighted it."

Below, watch Metallica play an epic rendition of Master of Puppets' "Disposable Heroes" live at the 2013 Golden Gods:

6. Metallica tuned lower than usual when recording the title track to get the sound as tight as possible
"Back then, it was all about getting it tight," Ulrich told us in 2017."'It's gotta be tight! Every guitar track has to be totally tight to the other guitar tracks!'" Rasmussen recalls that in order to achieve the desired optimal sonic tightness, he had Metallica tune their instruments slightly lower than usual when recording "Master of Puppets" so they could mix with the tapes running faster and still have the end result sound in tune. "We banged it out a couple of times and decided on the one with the best feeling," the producer said to Rolling Stone, "because they'd have to play it live."

(Video) Dad binges Stranger Things and immediately remembers how to play Metallica’s Master of Puppets 🤘

7. ...but today Ulrich thinks Master of Puppets "sounds a little too tight"
As much time and energy as Rasmussen and Metallica put in to getPuppetssounding as tight as possible, the band's more recent focus in the studio is almost the diametrical opposite, as Ulrich admitted in 2017: "Nowadays when we make records, it's about trying to make it sound as lively as possible, and as full of spunk and vibe." Not surprisingly then, when the drummer listens back at Puppets today, he finds it doesn't sound loose enough for his current tastes. "Back then ... so much time was spent trying to make everything super-tight, to the point of being completely anal," he said. "When I hear the record now, it sounds a little too tight for where my ears are in 2017, and it sounds like the master tapes got left in a reverb tank for too long."

8. James Hetfield has the notes to the bass part in the middle of "Orion" tattooed on his left arm
"For me, 'Orion' was Cliff Burton's swan song," Hammett said to Rolling Stone. "It was a great piece of music, and he'd written the whole middle section. It kind of gave us a view into what direction he was heading." It also makes the tattoo that Hetfieldhas on his upper left forearm a very fitting tribute to the bassist — one that the Metallica frontmanpoints out and talks about in the video below.

(Video) Eddie Munson's Upside Down Guitar GOD Scene - Master of Puppets | Stranger Things | Netflix

9. The original cover painting for the albumsold at auction for $28,000
WhenartistDon Brautigamconjured up the cover image for Master of Puppets — in just three days, using a combination of airbrush and paintbrush —he had never heard a note of music from the album, as he revealed in a 2010 interview with Revolver. Not even "Disposable Heroes," which is frequently cited as the reference for the soldier's helmet on the cross headstone to the far left. Still, he managed to create something iconic and timeless — and worth a pretty penny, too. On November 24th,2008 — 10 months afterBrautigam's death—the 17x17" painting was sold for a none-too-shabby $28,000 atChristie'sauction house at Rockefeller Plaza, New York City.(The $35,000 final figure listed onChristie's site includes thebuyer fees.) No word on who the purchaser was or where the artwork resides now.

10. Deviled Ham played a key role in thephoto of Kirk Hammett on the back cover
When we interviewed Hammett in 2017 aboutPuppets, he shared a particularly amusing anecdote. "The back cover shot of me, where I'm giving a dirty look to the camera?" he said. "That was because, I had just become a vegetarian back then, and we were at the Donnington Festival — someone threw a deviled ham sandwich from the audience, and it fucking smashed right on my brand new black Jackson Flying V. And I was so fucking pissed! I looked over to the side, and I saw my guitar tech laughing, and I saw [photographer] Ross Halfin laughing, and I just gave them a dirty look, and then Ross took the shot. And that's the shot that's on the back of Master of Puppets!"

FAQs

Is Master of Puppets the greatest metal album? ›

Master of Puppets peaked at number 29 on the Billboard 200 and received widespread acclaim from critics, who praised its music and political lyrics. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential metal albums of all time, and is credited with consolidating the American thrash metal scene.

Who wrote the riff for Master of Puppets? ›

Master Of Puppets

How many times has Master of Puppets been played live? ›

Live performances

"Master of Puppets" is the band's most played song, first played on December 31, 1985, at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for a crowd of 7,000. As of MDY, the song has been performed 1,718 times.

What pickups did Metallica use on Master of Puppets? ›

James Hetfield Guitar

The Jackson King V Custom named “Kill Bon Jovi” was used by James Hetfield throughout Master of Puppets in 1985. Manufactured on May 24th, 1985, it featured a white body finish, a Tune-o-Matic bridge, a set of Grover tuners, and two Seymour Duncan Invader pickups.

How difficult is Master of Puppets? ›

Is it hard to play? Master Of Puppets is hard to play. That's because of its fast tempo (212 BPM) and downstrokes. It's all downstrokes, for which you have to have very strong wrist and advanced sense of rhythm.

Does Metallica use a click track? ›

The researcher believes that comparison with a computer-generated drum track reveals that, while Nickelback and Green Day's drummers may well play along to a click track in the studio, Metallica and Weezer's probably don't.

What tuning is Master of Puppets? ›

(But the short answer is that Master of Puppets tuning is D standard!)

Is Master of Puppets about war? ›

Just listen to Disposable Heroes, another awesome song of the album that is most definently about war. "Master of Puppets" is about drugs. "Chop your breakfast on a mirror," how could you take that as war?

Did Eddie actually play the guitar? ›

The best part? Joseph Quinn actually played some guitar in the now-famous scene in which Eddie shreds to Metallica's 1986 single, "Master of Puppets" (which has spiked to No. 1 on the charts since Stranger Things Vol.

Did Metallica record Master of Puppets slower? ›

Flemming Rasmussen admits James DID have his guitar de-tuned and recorded at a much slower BPM for the guitar tracks to Master of Puppets! Scroll to the 1:55 mark on this YouTube video and listen as Flemming says he sped up the tape in the studio to a faster tempo using VariSpeed!

Did Eddie really play Master of Puppets in Stranger Things? ›

Staged in front of a big screen playing the show's standout scene — which features Joseph Quinn's metalhead character epically shredding “Master of Puppets” on his electric guitar as a means of distracting killer bats in the Upside Down — the band synchronized their performance of the song with Eddie's.

Does Metallica use pedals? ›

Metallica aren't distinguished for using pedals to achieve their core tones. James Hetfield has famously stated that he prefers the direct distorted tone from an amplifier, as opposed to relying on pedals.

How do you get the Metallica tone? ›

The band is known for their heavy sound, and they've used a range of amps and settings to achieve it. You will need an amp that is designed to produce a high gain tone like Metallica. Then, by setting the gain relatively high to around 8, treble and bass to 6, and mids to 3, you should have a good starting point.

What strings does Metallica use? ›

“ James Hetfield plays Ernie Ball RPS Slinky 10s and 11s as well his own custom gauge 'Hardwired' 11-50 set.

What is the most sold metal album? ›

I mean, Metallica's “The Black Album” seems like a safe bet to be the best-selling heavy metal album of all time. I did a little research to determine the No. 1, and as it turned out, it is “The Black Album!” According to Wikipedia, Metallica has sold 31 million copies of the record worldwide on physical media.

What is the first metal album? ›

Randy Holden's cult classic Population II, considered by some to be the world's first heavy metal album, is finally gaining an official release. Originally slated for release several months before Black Sabbath's debut, Holden – who played guitar on Blue Cheer's third album, 1969's New!

How long does it take to learn Master of Puppets? ›

I say at least 3 - 5 years.

Can a beginner learn Master of Puppets? ›

Anyhow, Master of Puppets is easy to play until you get to ze spider riff. If you're a beginner, then that part will come quite hard to you (it did to me). The rythm bit of the interlude is pretty easy, it's reptitive and comes naturally if you know your chords. The lead bit is easy at first but gets relatively harder.

Why do Metallica play faster live? ›

"Actually, I developed a three-finger technique to keep up with the pace on some of the songs. When we play live, things get faster, it's a natural occurrence with Lars and the guys. "No disrespect - it's just something that happens with all the energy.

How can I play fast like Metallica? ›

Fast And Precise RHYTHM Guitar Like James Hetfield (Metallica) - YouTube

Why do bands play faster live? ›

The thrill and pressure of a live performance heightens adrenaline, dopamine and endorphin levels in the body. This can warp a musician's sense of time, causing them to unintentionally perform at a slightly faster tempo.

Who invented Drop D tuning? ›

John Dowland was a Renaissance composer (1500-1600's-ish) From my repertoire, those are the earliest compositions I know of that call for drop-D. (D-A-D-G-B-E) Mind you, he was also composing for lute, so the pieces were arranged later.

What Hz does Metallica use? ›

every song on kill em all, and ride the lightning (except for whom the bell tolls) is at 445 hertz. its really weird. When this happens it's usually because a band tunes their guitars using a piano that is out of tune. When this happens it's usually because a band tunes their guitars using a piano that is out of tune.

What key does Metallica play in? ›

THE TONALITY OF METALLICA:

One of the primary key signatures used by Metallica is the key of "E Minor." Metallica's music is most notably characterized by its song structures that apply heavy "low-ended" registers, composed of long strings of riffs that surround the vocals.

What does it mean to chop your breakfast on a mirror? ›

The line "chop your breakfast on a mirror" refers to setting up lines of cocaine. So Lars Ulrich takes one of his fingers to hold down one nostril and pretend to snort with the other, as if he would snort cocaine.

What Hz is Master of Puppets? ›

Taylor_riff on Instagram: “E standard tuning 435 Hz Metallica : Orion (1986) Original song from the album Master Of Puppets @metallica”

Which Guitar Hero has Master of Puppets? ›

"Master of Puppets" is an tier 6 song featured in Guitar Hero: Metallica.

Did Joseph Quinn steal the guitar? ›

“I kind of wanted it at the end — I kind of asked if I could have it, and they ignored me,” he confessed, going on to steal a replica of the guitar on display behind him after the interview concluded.

Is Eddie coming back? ›

Stranger Things fans are calling for the return of Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) after it was confirmed the series is back in production. Matt and Ross Duffer and the writers of Stranger Things have confirmed they have officially started work on season five of the streaming sensation.

How old is Joseph Quinn? ›

Is Master of Puppets the best metal song? ›

METALLICA, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN and BLACK SABBATH are among the artists who have made Gibson.com's list of "Top 50 Metal Songs Of All Time".

Does Metallica own their masters? ›

Metallica obtained control of their masters thanks to a deal signed in 1994 stating they would gain control of their masters from Warner Music in 2012. "It's always been about control for us as a band," said their drummer Lars Ulrich.

How many songs did Dave Mustaine write for Metallica? ›

Metallica songs credited to Mustaine. Mustaine is credited on six Metallica songs, two of which he wrote mostly himself and four of which he contributed.

Why did Eddie play the guitar? ›

As it turns out, the idea came from writer Curtis Gwinn, who made the suggestion to have him play the song as a means to distract the Demobats. "And we fell in love with that idea," he continued. "We're like, 'We have to do that.

What did Metallica think of Eddie Munson? ›

It's an incredible honor to be such a big part of Eddie's journey and to once again be keeping company with all of the other amazing artists featured in the show,” the band wrote on Instagram.

How did Metallica react to Stranger Things? ›

Metallica Reacts to Eddie Munson 'Stranger Things' 'Master of Puppets' Scene. The legendary metal band says it's "stoked" and "blown away" to see Eddie rock out to its music.

Did Metallica record Master of Puppets slower? ›

Flemming Rasmussen admits James DID have his guitar de-tuned and recorded at a much slower BPM for the guitar tracks to Master of Puppets! Scroll to the 1:55 mark on this YouTube video and listen as Flemming says he sped up the tape in the studio to a faster tempo using VariSpeed!

Why is Master of Puppets a good album? ›

It Boasts Metallica's Definitive Song

Credited to James, Lars, Cliff, and Kirk, with a running time of nearly 9 minutes, “Master of Puppets” shreds with down picking, epic tempo changes, mighty dexterity, and majestic melody.

Does Metallica own their masters? ›

Metallica obtained control of their masters thanks to a deal signed in 1994 stating they would gain control of their masters from Warner Music in 2012. "It's always been about control for us as a band," said their drummer Lars Ulrich.

Is Master of Puppets climbing charts? ›

Much like Kate Bush's 1985 single “Running Up That Hill” has experienced a seismic, worldwide resurgence following its prominent inclusion in the show earlier this season (it peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and presently sits at #6), 1986's “Master of Puppets” is once again climbing the charts ...

Does Metallica use a click track? ›

The researcher believes that comparison with a computer-generated drum track reveals that, while Nickelback and Green Day's drummers may well play along to a click track in the studio, Metallica and Weezer's probably don't.

What tuning is Master of Puppets? ›

(But the short answer is that Master of Puppets tuning is D standard!)

Is Master of Puppets the best metal song? ›

METALLICA, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN and BLACK SABBATH are among the artists who have made Gibson.com's list of "Top 50 Metal Songs Of All Time".

What Guitar Hero has Master of Puppets? ›

"Master of Puppets" is an tier 6 song featured in Guitar Hero: Metallica. It is a long song that includes strange time signatures interspersed within the song, as well as a oddly charted main riff. The ending note on Expert Guitar is a G-R-Y-B chord, one of the few songs in the franchise to utilize a four note chord.

What made Metallica so popular? ›

Metallica first found commercial success with the release of its third album, Master of Puppets (1986), cited as one of the heaviest metal albums and the band's best work.

Is Metallica popular again? ›

Case in point: Metallica are back on top of the charts, following their music appearing in the final episodes of “Stranger Things,” which aired on July 1. As of today, Metallica's “Master of Puppets” had racked up 17.5 million streams in the last week since the final episodes of “Stranger Things” aired.

What does owning your masters mean? ›

Owning your masters means you own the copyright to the original sound recordings of your music. The copyright of the Sound Recording is generally owned by the artist or record label that they are signed to.

Why do artists not own their masters? ›

The original recording of a song is called a master. Most artists who sign with labels do not own their masters, as they often sign away their rights when signing a contract with a label for distribution purposes.

Who was the first black artist to own their masters? ›

Ray Charles First Black Artist To Own His Masters.

What is #1 on iTunes right now? ›

The number one song on iTunes right now is Unholy by Sam Smith & Kim Petras.

Is Metallica music in Stranger Things? ›

Stranger Things creators the Duffer brothers recruited Metallica early on for the scene. The band's guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Robert Trujillo and Trujillo's son Tye recorded additional guitar tracks for the version of the song that appears in the show.

What number is Master of Puppets? ›

Metallica are the latest beneficiaries of the Stranger Things bump. The band's 1986 song “Master of Puppets” has reached No. 40 the Billboard Hot 100, scaling the singles chart for first time since its release 36 years ago.

Videos

1. Metallica - Master of puppets (1 HOUR/Lyrics) [from Stranger Things Season 4] Netflix
(1Hour Vibes)
2. 10 Quick Tips for Playing MASTER OF PUPPETS on Guitar!
(The-Art-of-Guitar)
3. Metallica: Master of Puppets (Official Lyric Video)
(Metallica)
4. Metallica - Master of puppets (Lyrics) [from Stranger Things Season 4] Netflix
(Insight Music)
5. Master Of Puppets - Eddie Munson | Stranger Things 4 | Netflix
(Netflix Türkiye)
6. Running Up That Hill in the style of Master of Puppets (@Metallica/@KateBushMusic)
(Anthony Vincent)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Pres. Carey Rath

Last Updated: 05/30/2022

Views: 6241

Rating: 4 / 5 (61 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Pres. Carey Rath

Birthday: 1997-03-06

Address: 14955 Ledner Trail, East Rodrickfort, NE 85127-8369

Phone: +18682428114917

Job: National Technology Representative

Hobby: Sand art, Drama, Web surfing, Cycling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Leather crafting, Creative writing

Introduction: My name is Pres. Carey Rath, I am a faithful, funny, vast, joyous, lively, brave, glamorous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.