"Master of Puppets" by Metallica - A guitarist's perspective

"Master of Puppets" is the third studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on March 3, 1986. It is widely considered one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time, showcasing the band's remarkable musicianship, intricate songwriting, and powerful themes.

In this guitar lesson course, LickLibrary veteran, Danny Gill walks you through the many highlights of each song from the heavy metal icons one phrase at a time, including all of James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett’s legendary guitar parts from the tracks; “Battery,” “Orion,” and the anthemic, “Master Of Puppets.” This article delves into the guitar work on the album, analysing each song, the guitar scales used, guitar solo analyses, and a focus on lead guitarist Kirk Hammett's contributions. Additionally, we'll explore various guitar techniques employed throughout the album.

Track by Track Analysis

1. Battery

The album opener, "Battery," is a fast-paced, aggressive track featuring an acoustic guitar intro that gradually builds up to a full-on assault of electric guitars, using techniques such as alternate picking, galloping rhythms, and power chords. The song is primarily in E minor and utilizes the E Phrygian Dominant scale, which gives it a distinct, exotic feel. Hammett's solo uses the E minor pentatonic scale, incorporating hammer-ons, pull-offs, and vibrato for a melodic, yet aggressive sound.

2. Master of Puppets

The title track, "Master of Puppets," is a progressive metal masterpiece, featuring numerous tempo changes and intricate chord progressions. The song is written in E minor and has sections in the Phrygian and Aeolian modes. Hammett's solos in this song are quite melodic, making use of the E minor scale and incorporating techniques such as string bending, legato, and alternate picking. The song also features syncopated rhythms and extensive palm-muting.

3. The Thing That Should Not Be

"The Thing That Should Not Be" is a dark, brooding track in drop D tuning, utilizing power chords and a heavy use of palm-muting. The song's riffs are based on the D Phrygian and D Locrian modes, giving it a dissonant and sinister sound. Hammett's solo in this song is short and intense, using the D minor pentatonic scale and techniques such as slides and vibrato.

4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

"Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" is a powerful ballad that starts with clean, arpeggiated chords and builds up to heavy, distorted riffs. The song is in D minor and features beautiful arpeggiated chord progressions and finger-picking in the intro. As the song progresses, Hammett employs power chords and palm-muting to add intensity. The solo sections showcase Hammett's melodic sensibilities, using the D minor scale and techniques such as string bending, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and vibrato.

5. Disposable Heroes

"Disposable Heroes" is an aggressive, thrash metal track with fast, intricate riffs and a relentless pace. The song is written in E minor and uses the E Phrygian mode, creating a dark and menacing atmosphere. Hammett's solos employ the E minor pentatonic scale, with techniques such as alternate picking, legato, and string bending. This track also features galloping rhythms and intricate chord progressions.

6. Leper Messiah

"Leper Messiah" is a mid-tempo track with heavy, chugging riffs and a strong emphasis on power chords and palm-muting. The song is in E minor, using the E Aeolian mode for its main riff. Hammett's solo in this song is aggressive and melodic, making use of the E minor pentatonic scale and techniques such as string bending, vibrato, and alternate picking.

7. Orion

"Orion" is an instrumental track that showcases the band's progressive tendencies and exceptional musicianship. The song is in E minor and features various tempo changes, intricate chord progressions, and melodic themes. Hammett's solos are melodic and expressive, utilizing the E minor scale and techniques such as legato, string bending, and vibrato. The song also features harmonics, tapped harmonics, and finger-picking, showcasing the band's diverse range of techniques and styles.

8. Damage, Inc.

"Damage, Inc." is a fast and furious track that serves as a fitting finale for the album. The song is in E minor and features aggressive riffs, galloping rhythms, and palm-muted power chords. Hammett's solo is fierce and uses the E minor pentatonic scale, incorporating techniques like alternate picking, legato, string bending, and vibrato to create a thrilling conclusion to the album.

In conclusion, Metallica's "Master of Puppets" is a landmark album in heavy metal history, showcasing the band's incredible musicianship, intricate songwriting, and powerful themes. Guitarists, in particular, can appreciate the diverse range of techniques and styles employed by Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield, making the album a masterclass in guitar playing. From aggressive, palm-muted riffs to melodic, emotional solos, "Master of Puppets" offers a wealth of inspiration and insight for guitar players of all levels.

Lead Guitarist Kirk Hammett

Kirk Hammett, Metallica's lead guitarist, played a significant role in shaping the sound of "Master of Puppets." His solos on the album are memorable, emotional, and skilfully executed, showcasing his impressive technical abilities and melodic sensibilities. Hammett's influences, such as Jimi Hendrix, Michael Schenker, and Uli Jon Roth, are evident in his playing style, which combines bluesy phrasing with precise picking and a smooth legato touch.

Throughout the album, Hammett uses a variety of scales, including minor pentatonic, Phrygian dominant, Aeolian, and Locrian modes, demonstrating his deep understanding of music theory and his ability to adapt his playing to suit the mood of each song. His solos are an essential component of Metallica's sound on "Master of Puppets," adding depth, emotion, and virtuosity to the music.

Guitar Techniques Used in "Master of Puppets"

Throughout the album, various guitar techniques are employed to create the signature Metallica sound. Some of the key techniques used in "Master of Puppets" include:

These techniques, combined with the band's tight musicianship and songwriting prowess, make "Master of Puppets" an iconic and influential album in the heavy metal genre. Click on a link to explore more information about these techniques.

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Danny Gill

Danny Gill is, without a doubt, the most loved tutor by our community. With an incredible array of DVDs and web lessons for LickLibrary covering a wide variety of topics all of which he covers with incredible detail, it's no wonder he carries as much respect as he does. As...

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