Monday, October 31, 2016

119. Metallica - Master of Puppets

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Right from the cover art,  Master of Puppets  promised an even  greater degree of  political
awareness.  Dog tags hang from  military-style  grave markers,  each headstone attached to
strings leading to the  shadowy hands of an unseen puppet master. The graves are nameless,
arranged in neat rows — anonymous  soldiers paid  token respect for  their  sacrifice though
nobody  can  be bothered  to clear  the  overgrowth  choking  their graves.  The setting sun 
reinforces the scene’s sense of death and abandonment.
Metallica's Master of Puppets, Loudwire

Having read that,  I lost appetite for writing  my own short story about the work above, but
it's Halloween  and I think I had  to say  something  about remembering  the dead.  In other
words, let us think and ask,  "who is the puppet now?"

Is it the living, or the dead?

No. 59, Entertainment Weekly, 100 Greatest Albums Ever; No. 105, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000;
No. 167, Rolling Stone, The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; No. 268, Billboard, The 300 Best-Selling Albums of All Time. 

Cover concept by Peter Mensch & Metallica;  illustration by Don Brautigam; photography by Ross Halfin, Rich Likong & Rob Ellsi.
Album produced by Metallica and Flemming Rasmussen.

Master of Puppets is one of the best metal albums of the '80s. It's a rare achievement: a crossover hit that compromises nothing.
Much like their previous album  Ride the Lightning  but with even  stronger material,  Master of Puppets  blends  metal's natural
aggression with subtle  shifts in dynamics  and expanded  compositional  textures to expand and refine its sonic reach.  "Battery"
leads things  off with the  unforgiving pummel  of their  earliest thrash,  but the  eight-and-a-half  minute title  track delivers a
complex sermon  on feelings of human  powerlessness and  overreaching  authority backed  by an arrangement that is cinematic
in scope, displaying the group's moodiest overtures alongside its most direct attack.

The playing is airtight  throughout — the instrumental  "Orion" a showcase for the group's  syncopated intuition — with the songs
thematically united as well,  offering up a world on the brink of chaos and insanity. "Welcome Home (Sanitarium),"  "Disposable
Heroes" and "Leper Messiah" are textbook cases of adolescent rage and frustration towards an uncaring system. itunes review

The cover painting was done by Don Brautigam,  an illustrator out of New York’s prestigious  School of Visual Arts.  Brautigam had been working as a
commercial artist for 15 years prior to this project, designing both album and book covers along with illustrations for magazines and advertisements.
Prior to Master of Puppets, his most recognizable work may have been the cover for Stephen King’s 1980 novel The Stand, which won a “cover of the
year” award from a trade group named Marketing Bestsellers.

Brautigam used acrylic paints on illustration board,  combining traditional brushes with airbrush, the latter giving  Master of Puppets its dreamy, soft
focus feel.  Some sources  claim that the  artist  worked from a drawing  provided by  James Hetfield,  but what no one disputes is the quality of the
finished artwork.  In his book  Fade to Black,  Martin Popoff  says that painting “is gorgeously possessive of both depth and striking color sense, given
the contrast between the pure white of the crosses and the multiple rich shades of brown both above and below.”

The Art of Metal calls the image “striking.” Metallica's Master of Puppets, Loudwire

(A) Battery - Master of Puppets - The Thing That Should Not Be - Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

(B) Disposable Heroes - Leper Messiah - Orion - Damage, Inc.

"Master of Puppets" live from MetallicaVEVO on YouTube.


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