Master of Puppets (song)

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"Master of Puppets"
Metallica - Master of Puppets single cover.jpg
Single by Metallica
from the album Master of Puppets
B-side "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" (7")
Released July 2, 1986
Recorded 1985 at Sweet Silence Studios
(Copenhagen, Denmark)
Genre Thrash metal
Length 8:36
Metallica singles chronology
"Creeping Death"
"Master of Puppets"
"Harvester of Sorrow"

"Master of Puppets" is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica, released in France only on July 2, 1986 as the only single from the band's 1986 studio album of the same name. It was also issued as a promo single in the US by Elektra Records.[1]

The song was recorded during October–December 1985 at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark.[2][3]

It is the second and title track of the album, preceded by a shorter, high-speed typical thrash metal track, "Battery", a similar sequencing heard on Metallica's second (Ride the Lightning) and fourth (...And Justice for All) albums. "Master of Puppets" is also notable for its extensive use of downpicking and long instrumental section, beginning at 3:34.

The song, as lead singer James Hetfield explained, "deals pretty much with drugs. How things get switched around, instead of you controlling what you're taking and doing, it's drugs controlling you."[4] The song was bassist Cliff Burton's favorite song on the album, as quoted when the album was released. The song is one of the band's most famous and popular songs, frequently played at concerts.

Live performances

The videos Cliff 'Em All and S&M include live performances of "Master of Puppets" in its entirety. A shortened form appears in Cunning Stunts. Both versions can be seen in the video portions of the Live Shit: Binge & Purge box set.

"Master of Puppets" is the band's most played song of all time, first played on December 31, 1985 at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for a crowd of 7,000.[5] As of July 2, 2018, the song has been performed 1,602 times (the most recent being May 11, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland, at Hartwall Arena).[6] During the band's World Magnetic Tour, additional live performances were filmed in Mexico City; Nîmes, France and Sofia, Bulgaria. These performances were released on video in November 2009 (Mexico and Nîmes) and October 2010 (Sofia).

From late 1999 through 2000, Metallica often combined the song with "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" in concert, calling it "Mastertarium".

Track listing

French 7" single
No. Title Length
1. "Master of Puppets" (7" Edit) 3:27
2. "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" 4:06


VH1 ranked the song as the third greatest heavy metal song ever.[7]

In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 22 in its 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks list.[8]

Martin Popoff's book The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time ranked the song at number 2. Popoff composed the book by requesting that metal fans, musicians, and journalists nominate their favorite heavy metal songs. The author derived the final rankings from a database tallying almost 18,000 votes.

The song also ranked number 1 on a 100 Greatest Riffs poll conducted by Total Guitar magazine.

The readers of Guitar World voted the song as ranking at number 51 among the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett's solos for "Fade to Black" and "One" ranked significantly higher on the same list.

In popular culture

Cover versions

"Master of Puppets" has been covered by multiple artists.


Various parts of the song has also been used in various media:

  • The song was featured in the film Old School.
  • "Master of Puppets" along with "Eye of the Beholder" both appeared in the film The Big Short.
  • Conservative talk show host Michael Savage uses the track as the opening of his radio show, The Savage Nation.
  • The song was used as former Philadelphia Phillies' third baseman Pedro Feliz's theme song.
  • It was featured in The Simpsons episode "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer" in a scene where Hans Moleman drives away as Metallica is playing on the back of his truck.
  • Welsh performers Dirty Sanchez used the opening riff during their live performances throughout United Kingdom festivals in 2006.
  • It was used as the trailer song and appears in Guitar Hero: Metallica, along with the songs "Battery", "The Thing That Should Not Be", "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", "Disposable Heroes", and "Orion" as playable tracks from the Master of Puppets album.
  • It was used in Metal: A Headbanger's Journey.
  • Different sections of the song—notably the opening riff and the ending "wail" of Kirk Hammett's solo—were played during a commercial for the 2010 running of the Daytona 500, and commercials promoting the Nationwide Series and NASCAR on ESPN.
  • The repetition of the word "Master! Master!" in the end of the chorus is used to introduce the fictional advertiser Aviv Shalem on the Israeli satiric show Comeback (Comedy Central).

See also


  1. ^ "Metallica - Master Of Puppets". Discogs.
  2. ^ Gulla, Bob (2009). Guitar Gods: The 25 Players who Made Rock History. ABC-CLIO. p. 103. ISBN 9780313358067.
  3. ^ Brannigan, Paul; Winwood, Ian (2011). Birth School Metallica Death. 1. Da Capo Press. p. 195. ISBN 9780306821868.
  4. ^ Hetfield, James (1988). "Interview with Metallica, from Vol. 6, No.8" (Interview). Interviewed by Pushead. Thrasher Magazine. Archived from the original on January 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  5. ^ Brannigan, Winwood 2011, pp. 199–200.
  6. ^ "Metallica Concert Setlist at AT&T Park, San Francisco on February 6, 2016 -".
  7. ^ "VH1 40 Greatest Metal Songs". VH1. Archived from the original on November 18, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  8. ^ " Magazine Lists."

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