The Masters Of Puppets Essay, Research Paper
With an unusual talent that attracts teenagers, Metallica had everything going, along with the appeal of black leather and long hair in the early-eighties. Their fans are so hardcore, and so in to them, it is almost like a religion (Metallica). If you are looking for hard-hitting heavy metal, a Metallica concert is where you want to be (Moshers).
At the heart of Metallica s success lies the unity and collective strength of its four single personalities (Metallica). James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Jason Newsted, each bring something new to the table. Ulrich does the sorting of the business, Newsted is the man who is always live and looks for fans at all times, and Hammett is the spiritual one, while Hetfield just “hangs out” (Metallica).
Ulrich stated: “I believe that music history should be explored by music lovers. And I think people are short-changing themselves if they do not take a step back to understand, or even appreciate where things came from.” (Biography 1).
Amid the mayhem, Metallica endured its share of hardship and tragedy (Metallica). The road, the horrors, the deaths, the breakings of arms, and burnings, they ware just challenges for us, explained Hetfield (Metallica). Through it all they set the standard for no compromise, straightforward heavy-metal mastery (Metallica).
Metallica rose from garage band to global stadium phenomenon on their own terms. During the 1980 s dedication to a phenomenon known as heavy metal brought together two completely different men who went on to form one of the most famous rock bands in the history of rock n roll (Clark 712). We knew from day one that this was going to be our lives and we were going to make this work no matter what, expressed Hetfield (Metallica). When Lars Ulrich, the son of a Danish tennis star, relocated to Los Angeles in 1980 he placed an ad in the Recycler, looking for fellow musicians who play heavy-metal (Clark 713). James Hetfield, the son of a trucker and an opera singer, answered the ad (Clark 713). In the fall of 1981, Ulrich got together with Hetfield, and added guitarist Lloyd Grant (Clark 713). Ulrich, Hetfield, and Grant recorded a track for a compilation album titled Metal Massacre on Metal Blade Records (Clark 713). On March 14, 1982, Metallica performed its first live show in San Francisco (Clark 713). A friend, Ron Quintana, suggested the name Metallica (Rees and Crampton 572). The band s lineup for its first appearance was Ulrich and Hetfield, plus Ron McGovney on bass and Dave Mustaine on guitar (Clark 713). This was the first appearance of the original version of Metallica (Clark 713).
Jeff Warner was added for vocals but was short-lived (Clark 713). His contribution to the band was through his connections; he introduced Metallica to Cliff Burton (Clark 713). Ulrich and Hetfield agreed that they must have Burton as part of the band. Burton was dissatisfied with the Los Angeles music scene and agreed to join Metallica only if they would move to San Francisco (Clark 713). Metallica, upset with the way Los Angeles was treating them, agreed to move to San Francisco. The new lineup made its debut at Radio City Music Hall in Anaheim, California (Rees and Crampton 572). According to Ulrich, their best show in San Francisco was with a local band called Exodus, which featured Kirk Hammett on guitar (Clark 713).
Megaforce Records signed Metallica for their first release and it was during this tour that Mustaine was asked to leave the band because of substance abuse (Clark 713). Mustaine later cut his solo debut album before forming the band Megadeth (Rees and Crampton 572). Hammett flew in from San Francisco to join the band and finished the tour after Mustaine had left; he soon became a regular member (Clark 713). In May, 1983, the new version of Metallica recorded Kill Em All (Hochman 714). Kill ‘Em All represented Metallica’s views of society and what they thought should be done (Kill).
Metallica s next album, Ride the Lightning, was released in mid-1984 (Clark 714). This album told the punishment for illegal acts and used eerie suicidal lyrics (Ride). It was released by Megaforce Records but picked up three months later by Elektra Records (Rees and Crampton 572). Ride the Lightning confirmed Metallica as the pioneering force in the thrash/speed metal movement (Rees and Crampton 572). The album sold half a million copies by year’s end, though eventually it earned multi-platinum status (Rees and Crampton 572).
In March 1984, Master of Puppets, an album about drug addiction and the insanity that comes with it, was released (Master). In February 1984, the band toured Europe for the first time, and the band was finally noticed in Great Britain (Clark 714). Metallica then began a tour with Ozzy Osbourne which was significant for two reasons: they were touring with the godfather of heavy metal, and it was the last tour that Metallica was the supporting act (Clark 714).
Disaster struck on September 27, 1986, when one of the band s two buses skidded out of control on an ice-covered road in Sweden, the bus rolled over, instantaneously killing Burton, no others were scathed (Clark 714). The bus was lifted to allow Burton to escape, but was dropped, then everyone looked at each other and thought Metallica was over (Metallica). Hetfield angrily said, “I was going out of my mind. I didn’t know what to do or to think. When I asked the driver what had happened, he said he hit a patch of black ice. I remember walking down the road in my socks and underwear looking for this black ice and didn’t find a thing. I told myself that I was going to take the driver out, I wanted to kill him.” (Metallica)
The following month, bassist Jason Newsted became the newest member of Metallica (Clark 714). Newsted made his Metallica debut in Tokyo, Japan on November 15, 1986 (Rees and Crampton 572).
In 1987 the band had decided to release their first video in recognition to Burton by naming it Cliff Em All (Clark 714). In July of 1987, the band moved into Ulrich s sound proof garage and cut five tracks in six days, and released them on the album The $5.95 EP Garage Days Revisited (Clark 714).
Metallica s first commercially successful album, And Justice For All, a hold-no-prisoners attitude that lashed out towards the government, was released in 1988 (Justice). The album was a hit in the United Kingdom, but later rose to popularity in the United States (Rees and Crampton 572). Their most famous album, Metallica (the black album), was released in late 1991.
On September 27, 1994 Metallica filed suit against Elektra Records, over royalties (Rees and Crampton 573). The suit was later settled out of court (Rees and Crampton 573). The album Load was released in mid-1996, the year Metallica headlined the North American Lollapalooza tour (Clark 714). Having sold over 680,000 copies its first week of sales, Load entered the United States Pop Charts at #1 (Rees and Crampton 573).
Metallica performed the hit One at the 31st annual Grammy Awards and the following year won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance (Rees and Crampton 572). During the 33rd Grammy Awards, Metallica won a Grammy for Stone Cold Crazy as the Best Metal Performance of the year (Rees and Crampton 572). The group won Best Metal performance with vocals category for Metallica at the 34th annual Grammy Awards (Rees and Crampton 572). On January 27, 1994, the group was named Best Heavy Metal Band in the Rolling Stone magazine (Rees and Crampton 573).
As one of the most commanding rock bands of the last two decades, Metallica, most certainly understands the fiery soul of rock (Masuo 1). Metallica is an unusual band in that they achieved fame without a music video during the MTV age (Rees and Crampton). Metallica s music regards hard-hitting images of adolescent rage, suicide, drug addiction, mental illness, and political violence (Metallica). Their lyrics take on taboos, set to the spirit of pure rock n roll rebellion. We were very good at the negative stuff, explained Hetfield (Metallica).
Some of Metallica’s last albums, Load and Re-Load, found themselves moving away from the speed-metal that they had started
towards alternative rock (Sinclair 1). The Rolling Stone wrote:
Metallica is just fast junk that came out as overblown drool. As with most speed-metal bands, their least stupid songs are their slower, placid ones eerie suicidal gothics like The Unforgiven, One, and especially the lonely-teen epic Fade to Black. (DeCurtis, Henke, and George-Warren 46)
Garage Inc., Metallica s most unique album in their 16 year career is both an enthusiastic tribute and a passionate directory of the group s wide-ranging musical tastes and influences (Mania 1). Garage Inc. is so obscure that most metalheads do not recognize most of the tunes, much less the band that originally recorded them (Sinclair 1). By far the most surprising thing about Metallica is not their affection of punk rock, but their interests in classical rock (Sinclair 1).
Mixing rock n roll and symphonic sound is a risky proposition whose results often depend on whether the philharmonic approach is intended to tame rock s unruly passion or fan the flames (Masuo 1). The music proved both engaging and blazing when Metallica joined forces with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (Masuo 1).
Metallica has had to transform their image of the badboy to a saint because of incidents that have happened in the past. The reviews of their concerts are still wild and crazy, but that is what keeps the fans coming back.
The band had many experiences that they wish would not have happened. One of which was in late-1991 in Russia. Hetfield explained, The energy was so amazing. The enthusiasm conflicted with the military and violence erupted. The police started beating down young men. They just don t understand what kind of a release was in one of our concerts. (Metallica)
During a concert in Orlando on March 19, 1992, fans dangled an usher by his ankles (Rees and Crampton). The crowd began trouble and trashed the Orlando Complex where the concert was held and Metallica was required to pay thirty-eight thousand dollars for repairs and restributions (Rees and Crampton).
On August 8, 1992, after an incident with James Hetfield, Metallica had to cancel a concert in Montreal while touring with Guns N Roses (Metallica). Hetfield was burnt badly when he stepped into a towering flame and Metallica had to cancel the show (Metallica). When Guns ‘N’ Roses was announced to play, Axel Rose denied performing and walked off stage (Metallica). After both groups would not play the fans of Montreal went crazy. Hammett said, All hell broke loose. The fans were already pissed that the concert had been delayed twice. You don’t know the feeling you get when you are forced to stay in a single room, while your buddy is in the hospital and can not go see him because Montreal police will not let you go! (Metallica).
On the day of June 28, 1994, Master of Puppets hits three million sales. On February 2, 1995, the album Metallica was certified for eight million sales (Rees and Crampton 573). In the month of June 1995, Kill Em All hits sales of two million, Ride the Lightning three million, and And Justice For All four million (Rees and Crampton 573).
Metallica At Woodstock 99 the highlight of course was when Metallica took the stage (Gig 1). People waited twelve hours in the heat just to see them play (Gig 1). Nothing compares to headbanging to Metallica in person, explained Ryan Fox of Baltimore Maryland (Gig 1)! The energy from all of the two hundred, thousand people screaming at the top of their lungs for Metallica was amazing (Gig 1). Everytime the band said they were done, the fans would chant “We want more, We want more” (Gig 1)! They put on three encores and ended with Battery (Gig 1). Most said they have never seen a show like the one that Metallica put on at Rome, New York (Gig 1).
The show was absolutely amazing and I can’t stop talking about it (Gig 3)! The April performance, for the new S&M album, was so forceful (Gig 3). There were roughly 100 orchestra members on stage in full concert dress (tuxes with tails, etc) then the four members of Metallica in front (Gig 3). More than anything, the fans loved the energy both on stage and in the audience (Gig 3). Initially, many orchestra members were against the idea of playing with Metallica (Gig 3). Most of them do not listen to that kind of music, and have really dedicated their lives to studying, learning and mastering classical music (Gig 3). Many of the orchestra members were completely into it; this is so different from anything they have done before (Gig 3). The San Francisco Symphony and Metallica put the entire show together with just three rehearsals, starting on a Saturday morning with an orchestra only rehearsal and then continuing on Monday and Tuesday with Metallica in Berkeley (Gig 3). The two sounds, that of Metallica and the Orchestra, melted perfectly into one (Gig 3). They complemented each other very well and the Symphony added a hard edge to Metallica’s sound, which surprised me (Gig 3). The horn section and the basses stood out specifically.
Watching Metallica in a little place like Roseland, New York, packed in with only a couple thousand fans was honestly a religious experience (Gig 11). It was the ultimate concert (Gig 11). For anyone who did not know, here was the concept; the opening band was Battery, a tremendous Metallica cover band, and then Metallica was to come out and play only cover songs, keeping with the theme of the newest album (Gig 11). Brilliant and original, just a brilliant idea (Gig 11)!
Battery got the crowd totally pumped (Gig 11). There was not one whine or moan as I often do when there is an opening band, and with good reason, they rock (Gig 11)! They played the classics, Creeping Death, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Master of Puppets, One, bodies were moving, heads were whipping, elbows were flying (Gig 11). They did a great job and did not disappoint (Gig 11). Plus there was a treat at the end of their show; Metallica came out to thank them, joke a little, and horse around on stage, probably due to the fact that it was the last date (Gig 11). When Metallica finally came on stage, it was like lightning struck, the crowd went wild (Gig 11). MTV was filming the show, which added to the enthusiasm (Gig 11)! They were “stoked”, you could tell, just really jazzed to be on stage, they were having fun. And everyone felt it (Gig 11). The Garage Inc. album just came out that day, so many did not have it yet (Gig 11). There were a lot of songs that were unfamiliar (Gig 11). They were fresh, new, and so exciting (Gig 11).
Understanding the soul of rock ‘n’ roll is the beginning of becoming a historical rock band. Newsted explained: “We do what we want, not what anyone else says. Yes we are selfish, we know we are selfish, we do it for ourselves not anyone else, and our music proves that. The fans of course accuse us of selling out, and we do sell out, everytime we are in town we sell the stadium out.” (Metallica)
Subtle changes, not only in their music, but in their lives as well, such as cutting their hair and wearing less leather affected the way their fans saw them. The band may have increased sales because of the move, but lost the same fans that were there when they weren’t at the top of the charts. More or less, die-hard fans feel sold out for more money, they are doing it for the money and not the fans.
After the band had changed members a number of times due to drug abuse, alcohol, and personal despair, fans lost interest in the new Metallica. Whenever the hits start getting to catchy, some serious young upstarts will come along and foul it all up (DeCurtis, Henke, and George-Warren 46). With a history of drugs, alcohol, and personal despair, Metallica transformed the way society saw them, nevertheless may have lost some of their fans in the process. Metallica was considered to many the pioneer of speed/thrash-metal, however many of their followers left when they were relentlessly changing into more of an alternative rock group and less metal. For Metallica hard rock meant playing hard, on stage and off (Metallica).
List of Works Consulted
Clark, David. Metallica. Popular Musicians. 1999 ed., 3: 712-715.
DeCurtis, Anthony, James Henke, and Holly George-Warren, eds. The Rolling Stone: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music. New York: Random House, 1992, 46-47.
Farley, Christopher John. Where the moshers are. Time 22 July 1996:88-90. Wilson Select. Online. First Search. 27 October 1999.
Gig Reviews. 25 pp. 24 July 1999. Metallica Live. Internet. Royell. 22 October 1999.
Masuo, Sandy. Pop Music Review; Metallica, Symphony Do Fiery Rearranging. Los Angeles Times 23 April 1999: 25. Electric Library. CD-ROM. Infonautics Corporation, 1998.
Metallica. And Justice For All. CD. Elektra, 1988.
– — – . Garage Inc. CD. Elektra, 1998.
– — – . Master of Puppets. CD. Elektra, 1986.
– — – . Metallica. CD. Elektra, 1991.
– — – . Kill Em All. CD. Elektra, 1983.
– — – . Load. CD. Elektra, 1996.
– — – . ReLoad. CD. Elektra, 1997.
– — – . Ride the Lightning. CD. Elektra, 1984.
Metallica . Narr. Jim Forbes. Prod. Jeff Gaspin. Dir. Nicholas Caprio. Behind the Music. VH1. Primestar. 2 July 1999.
Metallica Biography. 3 pp. 1997. VH1. Internet. Royell. 28 October 1999.
Metallica Mania. 5 pp. October 1999. Elektra Records. Internet. Royell. 28 October 1999.