Alright, JRA. Awaiting your comments.
Metallica - Master of Puppets - February 21, 1986
I always find it a little more difficult to review an album that I've listened to about 3000 times than one that is fresh to my ears. It makes it all the more difficult when it is one that evokes such strong emotions as Master of Puppets. I've read a lot of differing opinions on it, from it being the best album in thrash/metal/popular music to that it is the album that killed heavy metal. I'm in neither camp, but if I had to pick one I'd be closer to the former.
The main gripe I have with Puppets is that it's a near clone of its predecessor, Ride the Lightning. Did they get lazy? Did they just go "hey that worked really well, let's just do it again!" There are differences of course. The album doesn't sound quite as deadly as Lightning did, but it's still very powerful. The songs have also gotten longer for the most part, almost to the point of ridiculousness in some cases.
I'd be lying to myself if I didn't give this album a favourable review though. Just like with Ride the Lightning, Metallica still seem like they're a couple steps ahead of the competition. Songs like "Disposable Heroes", "Damage, Inc." and the title track are all time thrash classics. "Orion" is a step down from "The Call of Ktulu", but it's still one of the best metal instrumentals I've ever heard. This is a controlled, very structured effort, much more so than anything Metallica had done before. In the grand scheme of things, Master of Puppets is a transitional album, setting the stage for what would be Metallica's thrash metal swan song.
Standouts: Disposable Heroes, Damage Inc., Master of Puppets