With the comeback of iconic thrash legends Metallica and their latest album, 72 Seasons, Rock Candy Magazine revisits their 1986 masterpiece, Master Of Puppets, across 14 pages. Guitarist Kirk Hammett delves into the creation of the record, its impact on the band’s professional path, and his current perspective on Master Of Puppets.
“We weren’t trying to make an album that 35 or so years on people would put on and think still sounded great,” Hammett tells Rock Candy Mag editor Howard Johnson. “We didn’t set out to do anything, really. We were just trying to make the best album we possibly could and that’s what came out.”
Releases on March 3, 1986, Master Of Puppets marked the third album for the thrash group, which was produced by Flemming Rasmussen in Denmark. The record achieved sales of over six million copies solely in the United States.
“From a technical viewpoint, when I listen to the album I’m really surprised at how good it sounds so long after the fact,” says Hammett. “The recording of the album, the recording of the songs, the production… it all holds up still.”
Master Of Puppets proved to be Cliff Burton’s swansong with Metallica. The bassist sadly died on 27 September 1986 in a coach accident while on tour promoting the album.
“Cliff’s contribution to Master Of Puppets was very melodic and very musical,” explains Hammett. “His contribution wasn’t so much the big heavy riffs. It was all melody bass, and it was a lot of really, really cool stuff. When Cliff went it was the end of an era, and we all knew it. We knew it.”
More than 35 years after it was first released, Master Of Puppets is an acknowledged classic of the thrash genre and proudly sits in the US Library Of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry on account of being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Hammett thinks he knows why.
“A lot of the music from that time now sounds samey and similar,” he says. “But there’s really nothing on Master Of Puppets that dates it to any particular period – sound-wise, production-wise, recording-wise. Master Of Puppets is my favourite of all the albums we’ve ever done.”