A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's a lot of rage in Master of Puppets, expressed against various enemies, with instruments played at breakneck speed, lyrics screamed in fury -- and a command of both composition and playing that keeps this album in the all-time top ranks of heavy metal albums. It's harsh, angry, sometimes profane ("f--k," "f--king," "damn") and sometimes violent (images of death and battle, murderous threats); it's also a musical masterpiece.
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What's the story?
Metallica are widely considered to have reached the top of their form with 1986's Master of Puppets. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, rhythm guitarist/lyricist James Hetfield, bassist Cliff Burton, and drummer Lars Ulrich delivered an album whose musical excellence was matched by its sheer fury, intricate compositions delivered with thrashing rage, sometimes profane lyrics fraught with images of monsters, insanity, and oppression. Shortly after the album's release, tragedy struck: the band was in a tour-bus accident in Sweden that killed Burton.
Is it any good?
Noting that heavy metal is not for everyone, there's probably no better, more honest place to make its acquaintance than here. Today, in their middle age, Metallica's superstar status is taken for granted (their 2008 album Death Magnetic was used in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock). But in 1986, with no radio airplay, no Internet, and no promotion, Master of Puppets went gold (half a million copies sold) and would ultimately go on to sell 3 million copies. With its long, intricate musical compositions, full-on thrash, and screaming, rage-filled lyrics, it's widely considered not only the band's best work but also the best heavy metal album of all time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why heavy metal in general, and Metallica on this album in particular, seem so angry.
Do you think the lyrics of "Disposable Heroes" are still timely today?
Are you familiar with Metallica's more recent work? Do you like this album better?
Parents, if this was one of your favorites in the '80s, how do you explain what you loved about it to your kids?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.