METALLICA – Master Of Puppets – Album Review

METALLICA - Master Of Puppets - Album Review

For me "Master Of Puppets" is one of the most important metal albums of all time, from one of ‘the’ most important metal bands in history.

I’m fortunate to have been partner in a professional recording studio for 20 years where we used certain bands as reference points for production and final mix-down purposes. These guys popped up regularly when discussing the dynamics of the recording process with up & coming bands who were striving to get that huge wall of sound effect.

38 years from this album landed and Metallica continue to set the benchmark that young bands aspire to reach.

My first introduction to these titans of metal was the incredible album "Ride The Lightning", which my little 13 years old ears were completely blown away by. I listened to this early example of thrash on repeat until I knew the album chord for chord and word for word. I’ve been known to still offer a full-blown drunken rendition of "Fade To Black" at gatherings, much to the horror of the other members of the church congregation.

2 years later "Master Of Puppets" landed and along with my broken voice and newly acquired acne, things in my world changed dramatically.

This album kicked the bollocks out of everything else in my world that year and brought with it a new found attitude, which was starting to realise the importance of confidence and assertiveness when pursuing your passions, regardless of how loud they were.

I was heavily influenced by Tommy Vance’s weekly radio show on Radio 1 and would have taped it religiously every week and listened back on repeat all through the following week. To have an entire weekly show like that on the biggest station in the UK dedicated to rock & metal was testament to how important this scene was in the 80's.

21 year old Lars Ulrich’s drumming on this album, where sometimes completely attention seeking and at times bordering on the OTT, is nonetheless astounding. The twists, utterly filthy hooks, and sharp direction changes in the songs never give you a proper chance to get too relaxed into a song, which is a lot of what Metallica are all about. There’s just a different level of intensity and dirt about this album that I still can’t get enough of to this day.

The title track takes you on a journey through dynamic shifts and intricate guitar work, while songs like "Battery" and "Disposable Heroes" deliver intense energy and aggression. The album's lyrical themes explore darker subjects such as control, addiction, and war, adding incredible depth to its full on sonic assault.

I was in complete awe of the band when I finally got to see them at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena in 2010 and still find myself in awe of them every time I listen to pretty much all of their albums.

Every track on this album is a 100% monster!



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AC/DC – Highway To Hell – Album Review

AC/DC - Highway To Hell - Album Review

I spoke in a recent review about my beliefs of there being two Black Sabbath’s.

Without a shadow of a doubt, 100%, without question, in the same breath...there are two AC/DCs

With this powerhouse of bands, who reigns supreme though between both frontmen, Bon Scott? or Brian Johnson?

This album dropped at a time when it was still acceptable to whip children in schools, and topless women calendars were displayed on the walls of car mechanic garages across the nation. I remember both of those things vividly, with somewhat different emotions.

This album was one of my first entries into the debaucherous world of proper rock music. No band, to me anyway, has ever written hooks and chord progressions like these guys.

My brother was heavily into rock & metal back then, and every young boy looks up to their big bro. My love of the harder sides of music was something that he introduced me to and it has stuck with me throughout my entire life.

I could say Angus Young is a genius but that would be a disservice to the other band members, each of whom pull together in such perfect harmony on this album. One different member could have made a colossal difference to how these guys click.

AC/DC are still a band that I listen to when I need to psych myself up, get a little bit of instant attitude, or just put some shit into perspective, which Is a hell of lot.

I have many many favourite tracks spread over many of their LPs but album wise Highway To Hell is in the top two for its sheer level of massive lead line hookery throughout. This album is TIGHT! on every level and I say that with immense confidence.

You will struggle to find a collection of power chords on a par with this album, anywhere! The songs, vocals, musicianship and production on here have enough energy to power a small country. "Girls Got Rhythm" is the ultimate in late night motorway driving music. "Touch To Much" is a foot stomping classic that tells the tale of a steamy night of passion, as do many of DC's songs.

People still sing along to many AC/DC songs, not actually grasping the heavyweight innuendo involved in nearly every song. Never will you hear the sexual act explained in such a subtle, artistic, and non crass way.

This record is just perfection to me.

RIP Bon Scott

RIP Malcolm Young



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BLACK SABBATH – Heaven And Hell – Album Review

BLACK SABBATH - Heaven And Hell - Album Review

Day 19 of my 50 big albums of all time and to those that have stuck with me, i thank you very much. If i have influenced even one person to check out something for the first time, then that makes me very happy.

My tastes have always varied drastically from the most laid back ambient tones right through to the heaviest and darkest.

One thing i will say is that i have never believed myself to be a musical snob, i feel that if someone goes to the trouble of producing a collection of sounds together to make a song, they deserve massive praise for it..regardless of it's style.'s another of the 5 bands who feature twice in my top 50.

For me personally there have always been two Black Sabbath’s, Sabbath ‘Ozzy’ and Sabbath Dio

Ozzy being the original worshipped leader at the band's root core will always hold pride of place for me as there is just a completely different level of edginess to this man’s voice projection and eerie stage presence.

This was Ronnie James Dio’s first album for Sabbath after Ozzy’s departure and for a man of 5ft 4” this chap packed one of the biggest, most powerful voices in rock music history, Fact! The fact of Sabbath having a few other singers like Ian Gillan / Tony Martin through the years are very rarely mentioned with any great fondness in the rock history books.

Right from the get go on this album when ‘Neon Knights’ power’s in it delivers some of the biggest songs ever in the metal archives. ‘Heaven And Hell’ itself is just an epic performance on an entirely different level. Tony Iommi’s guitar is absolutely stunning throughout. The parting shot of ‘Lonely Is The Word’ showcases what a complete band these guys were.

You can sense the urgency in Dio’s voice throughout this entire masterpiece, like he had such heavy boots to fill and needed to pull out all the stops and make this one count in order to be accepted by the Sabbath die hards. I believe he did so, on a grand scale.

This album was released in 1980 and the production is ever so slightly cleaner than previous but still leans back to the sheer grit of the unpolished 70’s. Every song on this album just works for me.

I believe that no-one other than Dio could have got away with replacing Ozzy and that's what makes this album very special for me. I always loved the fact that the band went full circle and Ozzy came back to his rightful place again in years to come.

As i say most days, if you’re not a fan or might have built up an idea of what you think a band are over the years, i urge you to set this aside for 40 minutes and judge a classic album on the merits of a unique collective of individuals coming together in perfect harmony to create seriously big songs. It doesn’t happen on this scale very often.

Absolute 100% winner that i will always keep coming back to.

RIP Ronnie James Dio



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