Members of ANTHRAX, DROWNING POOL, SOIL, SWORN ENEMY, LIFE OF AGONY, DRY KILL LOGIC and MADBALL are among the musicians that pay tribute to METALLICA's classic "Master of Puppets" album in the April 2006 issue of Metal Edge magazine to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the album's release.
Released on February 21, 1986, "Master of Puppets" only reached #29 on the Billboard album chart but has sold over six million stateside copies since. It is the last record upon which bassist Cliff Burton appears. A loose concept album about how we are all puppets in one way or another — be it to a cult, a drug, the government, organized religion, or, in the most extreme case, the psycho ward — it still ends on a positive note, exhorting the individual to break free of the constricting mores of society in an effort to achieve true non-conformism.
Read on as some of metal's most acclaimed musicians pay their respects to this groundbreaking release:
Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX):
"We had been good friends with the 'TALLICA cats for a few years, and we knew they would follow up 'Lightning' with a killer record. I remember hearing some songs and thinking the guitar sound was 'the greatest tone I ever heard.' It was massive! And it wasn't even mixed. We did the European tour with them, and we had a blast. I remember just hanging every day and just being buds. My favorite memory was going for breakfast with Kirk and Cliff and talking about this, that and the other thing. I couldn't make out what Jaymz said right before the lead kicks in on 'Master of Puppets' — he yells something, but I just couldn't understand it. I asked Kirk and Cliff, and they just stared in amazement. You need to remember that it was early and our brains weren't working so well, and after a long pause Cliff says in a deadpan delivery, 'Ummmm, pancakes?' I think we all spit our coffee out. You had to be there. So for the rest of the tour when that part would come up, we would always make eye contact with Cliff and he would always mouth the word 'pancakes.' We later did ask Jaymz what he said. 'Fix me' was the line… I like 'pancakes' better. Cliff Burton rules!"
C.J. Pierce (DROWNING POOL):
"Growing up in New Orleans in the early '80s, the local scene was mostly jazz and blues with little rock music happening. The local rock station was still playin '70s hits with an occasional new 'hair metal' hit thrown in. Basically the only way to get any new or underground music was at this mom-and-pop record shop or trading tapes at school.
"I remember the first moment I heard the record 'Master of Puppets'. A group of friends and I would sit behind the gym at lunch with our cassette players and rock out to all kinds of music. So one day this friend of mine named Brian comes in with this tape and he's rocking his ass off, so I had to ask what he was listening to. He replied, 'It's the new METALLICA record, 'Master of Puppets'. You gotta check this out.' I had heard the name before but I'd never heard their music. So I put the headphones on and the first thing I hear are these beautiful acoustic guitars and then bam out of nowhere, 'Battery', the heaviest song I have ever heard in my life kicks in. After that I was hooked. Being from the school of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page at that time in my life, as soon as I heard the first guitar solo, my mind was opened up to a whole new way of looking at the guitar. I wasn't about jazz and blues anymore — it was all about metal.
"Throughout the whole record 'Master of Puppets', there has been a constant inspiration to all. From the drum playing of Lars opening the door to double bass and blast beats, to James and Kirk's guitar riffs and solos — so talented, so ahead of its time. And of course, the bass playing like never heard before. Cliff, R.I.P. We miss you.
"METALLICA, on behalf of DROWNING POOL and all the true metal rockers out there, we thank you for such an amazing, inspirational record — 'Master of Puppets'. And for opening our eyes to metal and changing music history forever."
Joey Z (LIFE OF AGONY):
"'Master of Puppets' couldn't have come at a better time in my life. It was released shortly after my parents split and I really needed something to drive my future. Hearing the riffing madness of James Hetfield, and the unforgettable melodies of Kirk's solos, I knew what I wanted and needed to do. I became a lot more serious about my guitar playing, and then forever continued to pursue a career in music. I feel I owe so much to these guys and this record for inspiring my life. I also believe Cliff was a major contributor to the sound of the record, and although he's no longer with us, his playing and influence will echo for centuries. In some way he still lives through his brothers and must be proud of them for keeping METALLICA alive. Over the years I've had the honor of becoming friends with my heroes, hanging out, having fun and receiving invaluable wisdom from guys like Kirk. Bottom line, 'Master of Puppets' is and always will be my favorite record of all time, from my favorite band of all time, METALLICA!"
Scott Reeder (ex-KYUSS):
"My first hot date with my future wife Renee was almost 20 years ago, going to the Long Beach Arena to see METALLICA's 'Master of Puppets' tour, opening for OZZY. Eighth row seats! It was the only time I got to see 'em with Cliff, and it left a huge impression. I was really into the punk scene back then, and METALLICA had that same energy that drew me in — they completely blew OZZY off the stage! That experience totally galvanized my respect and appreciation for that record. Years down the road, actually getting a chance to jam stuff from that record with those guys was almost too much — pretty surreal. Much respect to those guys."
Shaun "Terminal Death" Glass (SOIL):
"What an album! Today it still stands the test of time and is never outdated in song or sound. I remember the day I bought this album. I just sat in my bedroom playing it over and over and staring at the album cover. Yes, VINYL, baby! I loved the album. Songs like 'Battery', 'The Thing That Should Not Be', 'Leper Messiah', etc. were blaring out of my room non-stop. I remember calling all my friends talking about this epic piece of metal that we all bought. To this day, I can always throw this gem on and it still delivers the goods. From the agro vibe of Hetfield's vocals to the raging Hammett solos. And how can you not worship the man Cliff Burton's wailing bass all over this bad mofo, and of course, Mr. Ulrich's drum assault! As a young musician, I would constantly learn riffs off the album, and I think 'Battery' was such a challenge as Hetfield's picking was on fire. To this day, the band has influenced me in so many ways — one song that will be on the new SOIL album titled 'Threw It Away' really felt like it captured that METALLICA sound. So think of them when you hear it 'cause we sure as fuck do!"