Master of Puppets (song)


"Master of Puppets" is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on July 2, 1986, as the only single from the album of the same name. It was also issued as a promo single in the US by Elektra Records.[2]

"Master of Puppets"
Metallica - Master of Puppets single cover.jpg
Single by Metallica
from the album Master of Puppets
B-side"Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" (7")
ReleasedJuly 2, 1986
StudioSweet Silence Studios, Copenhagen
GenreThrash metal[1]
Metallica singles chronology
"For Whom The Bell Tolls"
"Master of Puppets"
"Harvester of Sorrow"

The song was recorded during October–December 1985 at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark.[3][4]

It is the second and title track of the album, preceded by a shorter, high-speed typical thrash metal track, "Battery", a similar sequencing heard on Metallica's second (Ride the Lightning) and fourth (...And Justice for All) albums. "Master of Puppets" is also notable for its extensive use of downpicking and long instrumental section, beginning at 3:34.

The song, as lead singer James Hetfield explained, "deals pretty much with drugs. How things get switched around, instead of you controlling what you're taking and doing, it's drugs controlling you."[5] The song was bassist Cliff Burton's favorite song on the album, as he said when the album was released. The song is one of the band's most famous and popular songs, frequently played at concerts.

Live performancesEdit

The videos Cliff 'Em All, S&M and S&M2 include live performances of "Master of Puppets" in its entirety. A shortened form appears in Cunning Stunts. Both versions can be seen in the video portions of the Live Shit: Binge & Purge box set.

"Master of Puppets" is the band's most played song, first played on December 31, 1985, at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for a crowd of 7,000.[6] As of May 16, 2022, the song has been performed 1,687 times.[7] During the band's World Magnetic Tour, additional live performances were filmed in Mexico City; Nîmes, France and Sofia, Bulgaria. These performances were released on video in November 2009 (Mexico and Nîmes) and October 2010 (Sofia).

Track listingEdit

French 7" single
1."Master of Puppets" (7" Edit)3:27
2."Welcome Home (Sanitarium)"4:06





VH1 ranked the song as the third greatest heavy metal song ever.[8]

In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 22 in its 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks list.[9]

Martin Popoff's book The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time ranked the song at number 2. Popoff composed the book by requesting that metal fans, musicians, and journalists nominate their favorite heavy metal songs. The author derived the final rankings from a database tallying almost 18,000 votes.

The song also ranked number 1 on a 100 Greatest Riffs poll conducted by Total Guitar magazine.[citation needed]

The readers of Guitar World voted the song as ranking at number 51 among the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett's solos for "Fade to Black" and "One" ranked significantly higher on the same list.[citation needed]

In 2020, Metal Hammer ranked the song number 1 on its list of the 50 best Metallica songs of all time.[10]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[11] Gold 25,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[12] Silver 200,000 

  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cush, Andy (November 3, 2016). "Metallica's Lars Ulrich Thinks He Might Get Too Old to Perform "Master of Puppets"". Spin. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "Metallica - Master Of Puppets". Discogs.
  3. ^ Gulla, Bob (2009). Guitar Gods: The 25 Players who Made Rock History. ABC-CLIO. p. 103. ISBN 9780313358067.
  4. ^ Brannigan, Paul; Winwood, Ian (2011). Birth School Metallica Death. Vol. 1. Da Capo Press. p. 195. ISBN 9780306821868.
  5. ^ Hetfield, James (1988). "Interview with Metallica, from Vol. 6, No.8" (Interview). Interviewed by Pushead. Thrasher Magazine. Archived from the original on January 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  6. ^ Brannigan, Paul; Winwood, Ian (2011). Birth School Metallica Death. Vol. 1. Da Capo Press. pp. 199–200. ISBN 9780306821868.
  7. ^ "Metallica Tour Statistics |".
  8. ^ "VH1 40 Greatest Metal Songs". VH1. Archived from the original on November 18, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  9. ^ " Magazine Lists."
  10. ^ "The 50 best Metallica songs of all time". Louder Sound. Metal Hammer. July 29, 2020. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  11. ^ "Italian single certifications – Metallica – Master of Puppets" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved September 30, 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Master of Puppets" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  12. ^ "British single certifications – Metallica – Master of Puppets". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 26, 2020.