This past week marked the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Metallica‘s seminal third album Master of Puppets. It is considered by many to be the apex of the band’s career. I personally feel that that honor goes to their second album Ride The Lightning, but to each his own.
However, there is no disputing that Master of Puppets is the most critically acclaimed entry in the Metallica discography. It would be the final album to feature the man who many felt was the heart and soul of the band, bassist and songwriter Cliff Burton.
Cliff would lose his life in a tragic tour bus accident while on tour in Europe a mere six months after the album’s release at the tender age of 24. To those of us who were fans from the beginning, things would never be the same from that moment on for Metallica. They would go on to make only one more true thrash album, 1988’s excellent …And Justice For All before breaking off on a pop metal tangent.
I was fortunate enough to see Metallica open for Ozzy at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis a mere month after the release of Master of Puppets. It was one of the greatest performances that I have ever seen to this day. They absolutely stole the show from Ozzy. I will never forget how wild me and my friends went when they opened the show the same way that the album opens, with the pummeling that is “Battery.”
That is why I have chosen the track as this week’s Massive Metal Monday feature. It harkens back to that moment in time when, for a brief while, Metallica was the greatest heavy metal band on the planet.
This Massive Metal Monday is dedicated to the memory of the great Cliff Burton.
When I was growing up in rural Indiana in the early ’80s, there was very limited access to heavy music. These were the days before MTV blew up with the whole hair metal, Headbangers Ball phenomenon. But on Sunday nights, there was a two-hour radio show that came from WOXY, just across the state line in Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami University of Ohio). It was called Massive Metal for the Masses, and I would wait all week for it to air. It was through this show that I was introduced to bands like Venom, Bathory, WASP, Michael Schenker Group, Slayer, and countless others. This Monday weekly column is my tip of the hat to that show. I call it Massive Metal Monday. Every week, I pay tribute to defining moments by the artists that laid the groundwork for heavy metal to become the worldwide cultural bond for all of us metal heads, as well as current artists who are shaping the future of the genre.