March 3, 1986. Metallica releases their final album with founding bass player Cliff Burton, and the only perfect album in their catalogue.
Yes, Master of Puppets is a perfect album. That’s not up for debate. If it’s been awhile since you’ve given it a spin, just give a quick scroll through the track list below.
It’s a lean eight songs in that there’s absolutely no fat. Every track is a crusher, and all eight continue to be staples in Metallica’s live sets 35 years on. Of course, it was pretty special when they played the whole album live at Rock Am Ring for its 20th anniversary in 2006.
So it’s settled: Master of Puppets is a perfect album. But is it Metallica‘s only perfect album? I’d argue yes. Their first two releases had the usual hallmark of any rock band’s first two releases: room for improvement. And every album that was to come had this in common: no Cliff Burton. I’m of the mind that Cliff Burton was Metallica’s secret weapon. He taught the band music theory, he kept them focused. After Burton died, that focus became less laser-like. Yes, great albums were to come. But none like Master of Puppets. And I say Cliff Burton is the reason.
So here we are, celebrating the 35th birthday of Metallica’s finest musical moment. Click here and tell me what your favorite song on the album is. Mine is “Orion.”