Metallica

Metallica: Master of Puppets (Deluxe Box Set)

Blackened

Jan 15, 2018 Web Exclusive
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It's kind of shocking given this 1986 album's well-deserved status as one of the finest heavy metal albums ever, that until this reissue none of Metallica's classic albums have received the deluxe reissue treatment before. Master of Puppets is the apex of '80s thrash metal and, alongside 1984's sophomore LP Ride the Lightning, Metallica's finest work and it now gets a 10(!) CD (and 3 LP) set. This deluxe box set is a case of "go big or go home" that is in line with James Hetfield's gargantuan riffs. In addition to a remastered version of the original album on disc 1, there are two discs just of band interviews from this time period, several discs worth of demos, in-progress rough takes and riff tapes, and (the real treasure of the bonus material) several discs of live shows from this time period, including an incendiary set from the Aragon Ballroom in 1986 that finds them attempting to connect with the homegrown, tape-trading underground thrash network that helped them get their start, Hetfield making reference to "family" even though they had just gotten off the road opening for Ozzy Osbourne in arenas (one of those shows, from the Meadowlands in NJ, is part of this set).

In all, these shows (and this album) find them torn between the rough and tumble club/theater band they were and the headlining arena band they'd became a few years later when 1988's ...And Justice for All made them even bigger. Of course, we all know what happened after that and for younger people who didn't live through this era, it may be difficult to imagine Metallica as a credible, fan-friendly underground metal act (albeit a very popular one) who staked their reputation on not getting radio play, not making videos, and building their fanbase the old-fashioned way by word of mouth, touring relentlessly, and yet being able to fill arenas. Though they gained an entirely new audience in the '90s and have tried to go back to this sound on their last few albums, they'd never be this vital again. (www.metallica.com)

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