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Master Of Puppets by Metallica

Album: Master Of PuppetsReleased: 1986
  • The "Master" of puppets is a reference to drugs. Throughout the song the "Master" controls you and your life. This is evident in lyrics like, "chop your breakfast on a mirror," "The Master Of Puppets is pulling your strings, twisting your mind and smashing your dreams." Drugs is the Master while the drug user is the puppet. (thanks, Tore - W. Germany)
  • Metallica recorded this with the San Francisco Symphony in 1999. That version is on their album, S&M.
  • James Hetfield plays the first solo during the slow instrumental part, Kirk Hammet plays the final, fast heavy solo. While playing the solo, Kirk pulled the top string off of the fretboard of the guitar (usually done by accident when someone bends the high string down instead of up) to make the really high siren-like sound. Everyone loved the way it sounded on the track so they kept it that way.
  • There are two ways the song is played live. There is one where they just play the song how it is normally played in it's entirety, and another where they play the first 2 verses, and when it's time for the instrumental part they play another song (like "Nothing Else Matters" or "Sanitarium") and when that song is done they continue the final verse of "Master Of Puppets."
  • This was written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Cliff Burton.
  • At the end of the song, you can hear backwards recordings of the band's guitars while the bandmember's echoed laughter is played. (thanks, Nick - Paramus, NJ, for above 4)
  • In an MTV Icon special, James Hetfield said that it wasn't until after this song was written that he realized it related to his alcoholism. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • James Hetfield in Thrasher magazine: "'Master of Puppets' 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. Like, I went to a party here in San Francisco, there were all these freaks shooting up and geezin' and this other girl was real sick."
  • When Metallica played two shows in China in 2013, the Chinese government told them not to play this song - perhaps not wanting to harbor unrest with lyrics about being controlled by a greater entity. The band complied, although Kirk Hammett made sure to play the riff during their sets.
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Comments: 125

I seriously recommend this song be learned by any aspiring metal guitarist (or at least learn the 1st three riffs) and DOWN-PICK the whole thing. You'll be slow at at first, but I guarentee if you practice it everyday it will help you in the long run. I always use it as a warm up riff. (I'm not not an expert on guitar playing I'm just saying it helped me alot)Zero - Nowhere, Nj
even though that probably wasnt kirk really writing comments (no offense to kirk if that was really you ) but i agree with dee from north field the line fix me is so incredibly heavy the first time i heard it (and this song ) it scared the living crap out of me.Molly - Allegan, Mi
This song slams i cant stand the music now days i aint like every other 17 year old who likes rap.
rock on Metallica.
Shawn - Cleveland, Oh
When I actually listened to the lyrics for the first time, it definately changed the feel of the song for me. I realized that it was about how drugs are a "master of puppets," and they're "pulling your strings." Totally changed everything about the song.Jacob - Jackson, Tn
Woah some ppl gotta learn not all drugs are bad like weed isnt addicting does nothing bad etc. Ive been doing it for 2 months and I het like high 90s in school and Im fineMike - Ny, Ny
Ya I can't really add much to what's been said. But to Kirk: You probably won't ever see this, but dude, you are my idol. I cannot begin to describe how your guitar talks to me. I was once considering suicide, and it was your music that kept me from it. The solo to fade to black. Idk... The way the notes flowed perfectly with the rhythm while it still shreds, gave me something to live for. I immeadeatly picked up my guitar and learned the solo. Now all me and my friend have been learning every metallica song. So thank you for inspiring me.

If Kirk Hammett actually sees this I might just s--t myself.
Josh - Traverse City, Mi
So a while ago I kinda noticed something about this song with the way the verse riff and vocal melody are structured. First James sings a line, then he pauses, then he sings another, and pauses, and so on. During those pauses are when the guitars play the quick little chord progression. I always though it kinda sounded like James was having a "conversation" or something with guitars. Like he would say something, then the guitars would reply, then he would reply, then again the guitars would reply and so on. Not talking about the lyrics, just the structure. I'm not saying that this was done perpose, I doubt it was, but it's a pretty interesting structure to say the least. Tight song. Great album. Great band. Cliff should have been a little louder though.James - Lame Ass Texas, Tx
ooh i get it now, but it is still Metallica's best.Dylan - Euclid, Oh
this song just blows my mind. This song has the most intricate and most amount of guitar riffs out of any of the metallica songs. This is the first song that i ever learned to head bang too \m/ (oh and billy, i was jk, im an ass like that sometiems xD) thats cool. i can play the whole song.Johnathan - Albuquerque, Nm
and anyone cares because why billy?Johnathan - Albuquerque, Nm
This song is bleedin' awesome! I can play the beginning on guitar.Billy - Nederland , Tx
okay...one of the coolest songs ever. first metallica song i ever heard, now they are my favorite band in the universe, going to see them LIVE in less than one week. BTW, i seriously doubt it, but if that really was kirk and lars posting comments...YOU GUYS KICK ASS!Stew - Buffalo, United Kingdom
anyone else thinks this is the metal Bohemian Rhapsody?Mac - San Jose, Ca
PARIS, France -- A local French museum has found a previously unknown piece of music handwritten by classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a researcher said Thursday.
Ulrich Leadsinger, head of research at the International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, Austria, said there is no doubt that the single sheet was written by the composer.
"This is absolutely new," Leadsinger said in a telephone interview from his second job at McDonald's. "Do you want fries with that? His handwriting is absolutely clearly identifiable. -- What do you mean no personal calls!!??The long-lost work, described as the preliminary draft of a musical composition, is titled "Padrone dei Burattini in E Minor." Despite being a newly-discovered composition, heavy metal guitarists across the globe have known the song for years, as heavy metal band Metallica's classic, "Master of Puppets."
Music historian Herman Eighthnote believes Mozart's piece was ahead of its time.
The way Mozart wrote this piece, it was written for two electric guitars with heavy distortion, one lead and the other rhythm. Since they didn't have any electricity back then, Mozart may have written "Padrone" on violin and exaggerated the distortion to the best of his abilities, even going so far as to sing the "Wah Wah" parts in the solo, whereas the guitar was unable to produce a wah-wah sound.

"We had no idea,(Laughs), I guess I gotta start listening to Mozart some time soon!(laughs)" said Metallica lead singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield of Mozart's composition. "Thank God they didn't have copyright back then! [Laughs]"
"I guess we have only one thing left to do with 'Puppets'," said lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, "Release it into the public domain."
Eighthnote also commented on how and why the work is different from previous Mozart works.
Mozart was probably feeling the pressures of the marketplace. Classical music was waning. He was looking for a whole new sound that would blow everybody away. The song is dated 1786, 200 years before Metallica's song and album, so it was before Mozart died [in 1791]. He probably didn't make it public during his lifetime for fear of selling out. Mozart was the first known person to write heavy metal. And the first to do so without selling out for radio airplay.

Since the discovery, thousands of classical music enthusiasts have purchased albums by Metallica, and metalheads have been turned on to classical. Metallica's entire catalog got a big boost on the charts, including their latest album, Death Magnetic, debuting at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
Metallica's "Master of Puppets" lineup was Hetfield, Hammett, late bassist Cliff Burton, and drummer Lars Ulrich. The current lineup is Hetfield, Hammet, Ulrich, and bassist Robert Trujilo. "Padrone dei Burattini" is Italian for "Master of Puppets."
Xxx - Amman, Jordan
favorite song of all time. No contest, really.
Wanted people's thoughts. Something I've thought about, but haven't seen or heard being discussed. In the middle during the beautiful melodies and guitar solos, I always viewed that as being symbolic to drug addiction. It starts kind of nice and flowing, like a person who first takes a drug, everything seems all rosey. Then the music shifts to a more steady beat, symbolizing a plateauing period, neither good nor bad, just kind of neutral, when a drug starts to lose it's effect. Then it goes into a jaws-like rocky beat. To me symbolizes the addiction part of taking drugs, where you need it and are desperate. Right then, the lyrics kick in and it make sense to me: "master master where's the dreams that I've been after...promised only lies"

Not positive, but to me it appears there was real emotional meaning to the middle part of the music, rather than just playing a great melody. Am I right, or reading too much into it?
Keith - Cleveland, Oh
The first metallica song I ever heard. My friend Joey had the album and a cd player and he told me to listen to it. It absolutely melted my face. Every time i got the chance I listened to that song. I turned me on to Metallica, who is now one of my favorite bands of all time. Rock on, guys!Crizzle - Rincon, Ga
Ya Kirk, I remember that day. The song aslo expressed my addiction to sex.Lars - Denmark, Denmark
James suggested we come up with something about drugs and the effect they can have. Lars and I loved it, so we went with it. Obviously, the drugs are the master, and you become the puppet. Jerry from Fresno, this is not a "fake" song. This is serious stuff. James wasn't kidding in that interview, and we're not kidding with the song. Seriously, you guys, (I know it sounds corny, but) just say no.Kirk Hammet - San Fransico, Ca
this song is more than epic. MetallicA is a beast of a band.Mike - San Ramon, Ca
this song took my freakin breath away....a brilliant song from the greatest metal album ever made....this song is sucha treat for metal lovers...Rahul - Chennai, India
it says obey your master because its like your now addicted, so you must obey the masterNelson - Kitchener, On
Their is a band of 15 year olds who sound almost exactly like metallica[especially the lead singer, sounds like james hetfeild] who are expecting their first album this year and have already toured with KISS AND JUDAS PREIST. they are called "crooked x".Matt - Houston, Tx
hey why does it say obey ur master? when the master is drugs? pllzz!Carlos - Asheboro, Nc
METH will control your life, if it doesn't kill you, you'll wish you were dead. As a 43 year old ex-junkie whacking a gram a day, the meaning and tempo of this song is all too clear.
From the melancholy solo, scattered confusion, heart pounding, blood pumping anticipation, that precedes the RUSH, as you plunge more death into your veins.
No other song in existence, captures the essence of amphetamine addiction quite like this.
Hear the words, know their meaning, and change your life !
Brian - Melbourne, Australia
If this song dosent make you just want to start a freaking riot nothing will best metallica song ever hands down METALLICA FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!Matt - Lake Placid Ny, Ny
Great song, with kick ass guitar riffs and bad ass drums.Austin - Bristow, Va
This song is amazing on S&MNicole - Chicago, Il
This song is really awesome. The S&M version is even better. Metallica rules!!!Hetfield - Port Louis, Mauritius
This is my favourite song. I believe it can relate to any drug to be honest....well any drug that you can snort or inject. After all, while James sings about 'chopping his breakfast on a mirror' there are other lines that relate to IV drug use, ie. 'veins that pump with fear' and 'needlework the way'. I relate to this song a lot, as an ex-drug addict. My drug of choice was meth not heroin or cocaine, but it still has me in tears because it somehow seems to speak about my old life. James has a way with words. I wish Metallica still wrote songs like this.Lydia - Auckland, New Zealand
this is one of the best songs metallica has ever playedAlex - Wayland, Mn
This song is so true and bad assOzzy - Fresno, Ca
This songs is probably my favorite of all time!!! I LOVE METALLICA!!!Matt - Cape May, Nj
I used to think that this song was slightly about BDSM, sexual bondage, that sort of junk. Mainly because of the lines "Taste me, you will see" and "Come crawling faster, obey your master."

IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A SONG TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE MEANING.
Aki - Sunrise, Fl
O.K, because the album art has dogtags on the graves doesn't mean it's refering to the title track. Just listen to Disposable Heroes, another awesome song of the album that is most definently about war. "Master of Puppets" is about drugs. "Chop your breakfast on a mirror," how could you take that as war?Brett - Morristown, Tn
Heh...I never thought of it as being about drugs controlling people...but now that i know really, i can see how it does relate to drugs and such...before, when i would listen to this song i would think of an evil puppet master torturing his puppets and the puppets are in pain while this master just laughs in their face and gives em hell...lolJoey - Decatur, In
this song is about drugs and in my oppinion is metallicas second best song next to outlaw tornJqy - Houston, Ut
This is a good song. It's a message to people about what alchohol and drugs and do. IT'S NOT ABOUT THE DEVIL! to andrew of ohio, it is about drugs, and Metallica has even said so. But interesting interpretation. The intro's fun to play but everything else is hardEvan - Nowhere, Ga
could the speed changes in the songs show how you start out taking lots of drugs when you first get an addiction(beginning), how you try to get rid of your addiction so you are not taking anymore drugs(middle), and how the addiction pulls you back to drugs(ending).Justin - Montgomery, Al
this song is about how most armidilos are really demon soulsJoe - L.a, Ca
This song is about James' heroin addiction. hence why in live performances when he says the line "How i'm killing you" he instead says "How i'm f*cking you" and mimes shooting up into his arm.Unknown - Sunderland, England
Serious Song......... And yeah it is about pople being addicting to achohol and drugs,not a puppet show

lmfao
Anthony - Sault Saint Marie, Canada
i always thought it was about selling your soul...the bit after the rythm solo was the devil betraying him ,and the solo was almost like a chase scene, with him trying to escape the devil
but taste me you will see, more is all you need sould refer to anything, an obbsession with the deil in my case, a drug addiction, its aboiut not being content with what you have in that line i think
Rob - Worcester, England
This, along with Seek and Destroy, is my favorite Metallica song. It's such a brutal song, except for the first solo, which is so beautiful it's almost enough to bring tears to my eyes. This song means something to me, too, because there is a history of alcohol addiction in my family, and I know that alcohol can be and is every much as addicting as heroin or cocaine. Yes, I sing this song at karaoke, and I jam out to it when I'm listening to it, but that never makes me forget how serious of a song it actually is.Justin - Tempe, Az
To Aaron: That's cuz Jamyz downpicked like it was his job.Paul - California, Sd
Brilliant...lyrics and music...and their rythym riffs are hard as hell to play!Aaron - Pittsburgh, Pa
Sorry, it is a monolouge, not a dialougePaul - California, Sd
To active Marine Bob: If, as you put it, every single Metallica song can be interperated the way a person see's fit, then, if I think its about puppies, then it's about puppies, right?....Wrong, Bob you've got to look at context. Disposable Hero's is the war song on the Master of Puppets album. Your not using logic in your argument, dude. In fact 90% of the postings on this site have no logic. The song is CLEARLY about drug addiction, by personifying the drug as the addicts MASTER. Phrases such as Taste me you will see, more is all you need, Master, Master, where's the dreams that I'v been after,(which is a dialouge between the drug and the addict), and Leading on your deaths construction, suggest this. People please THINK before you post, otherwise you just end up looking stupid.Paul - California, Sd
THIS IS THE BEST METAL SONG and its absolutely is about heroin addiction and anyone who says this song is about a puppet show is probably on heroinMartin - Columbus, Oh
oh yeah, now i see it. i thought it was a towel when i first saw itCam - Melbourne, Al
I think it's about the government and drugs.Damien - Edmonton, Canada
I want to have 'Damage Inc.' playing while I help to crush and destroy all the evil militants and f--kin terrorists in this world!Rg - San Diego, Ca
Anyone else like their version of Turn the Page ON the Garage Inc. ALbum. Or how about Whiskey In A Jar?Buzzwood - Lansing, Ms
Actually Master of Puppets is about addiction to Heroine. "chop your breakfast on a mirror" "taste me u will see, more is all u need, dedicated to, how Im killing you" the title Master is in the means of controlling your life through addiction. "twisting your mind and smashing your dreams" as in taking away your goals in life and giving you a one track mind....towards the heroine. heroine is your master. "Needlework your way, never you betray!" need i say moe?Aarron - Toledo, Oh
trivium covered this song and shortened it from 8 and a half minutes to 7 minutes. it's faster, but you can't beat metallica when it comes to metallica songs. it's a good song, but one is their best song in my opinionBilly - A Place, Al
I love this song becuase most people say its just about drugs. There is only one line in the song that makes it only about drugs. "Chop your breakfast on a mirror". Im not saying its not about drugs. I am just saying every single Metallica song can be interperted the way it fits to you. I see this song as a part of bettery. Someone who kills and becomes addicted to thrill of killing in a war."Taste me you will see
more is all you need" Referring to the taste of killing. "Veins that pump with fear" Adrenaline as your in combat."Master, Master, You promised only lies" The government making the war sound glorified and noble yet you relize the reality of war. This is how I personally see it. Coming from an active Marine MOS 0311.
Bob - New York, Ny
isn't there a cover version by Dream Theater as well? I think the Primus and DT covers are the most famous (though, as all covers, no where even CLOSE to the original). Nice version in S&M as well...Arun - Chennai, India
I was 13 years old when this album dropped - having been interested in Metallica since the very beginning - this album was revolutionary. My friends and I skateboarded on homemade launch ramps as this album blared from the boombox we set up at the bottom of the paved driveway... each guitar riff was being memorized and acted as an inspiration to push ourselves to go faster and launch higher - I'll never forget how alive I felt during that time.. and this song was just a piece of the entire album experience. Having gotten caught up in the drug culture later in life I would say that 'Master' is clearly referring to cocaine, and that there is no debating that this may be the best anti-drug message ever put out by a rock band. My only question is: Was Metallica on drugs - and if so - when did they quit?Subnet11 - Baton Rouge, La
As a recovering heroin addict myself, I know all to well the emotion conveyed in this song. It could be about almost any addiction, but I don't think it's specifically about coke. Chop your breakfast on a mirror is something heroin addicts do as well. Heroin isn't only injected. It can be snorted as well. That's how I would get high. (I have a needle phobia). The "Master" fade-out before the bridge brought me to my knees many a time, as I used to listen to this song while getting high. I never did heroin as a party/social/let's get f*cked up type thing....I did it to numb some very real and serious pain. I did it almost always alone, and I did it to forget. I used heroin to become master over my pain and in the end heroin became my master. Come crawling faster....obey your master....all very real aspects of my life before I got clean. I would feel elated when I was high, then after I had been using for awhile, the elation descended into just plain numbness, then horror.
It sounds kinda dumb, but towards the end, I would break down at hearing the "master" fade into the bridge, and the bridge would make me break down in tears. To the people who think about taking heroin out of curiosity or to be cool, and also to the people with that much pain and sorrow in their lives that they will do anything to numb it: I beg you, don't. Heroin will take you over, control every move you make, every word you say, every breath in your body. And getting off of it is hard....the pain of withdrawal alone made me relapse numerous times before I finally kicked the habit. The cravings will never go away....don't even start....it's like playing russian roulette with all chambers loaded. You're more likely to get hooked than not. I wouldn't wish the hell of that addiction on anyone...it's best not to start.
Ashli Cullen - Lancaster, Pa
This song is why I'm never doing drugs. I am NEVER going to go through what the poor sap in the lines "Master, master, where's the dreams that I've been after? Master, master, promised only lies. Laughter, laughter, all I hear or see is laughter. Laughter, laughter, laughing at my cries...FIX ME!!!". Of course not only that, but the whole song saying that you become a slave to the drugs and you get messed up with 'em keeps me off 'em. Plus I was told never to do drugs anyways, but actually HEARING what people go through, no way! This is a great song, man. Just 8 1/2 minutes of brutality-well, 5 minutes if you don't count the middle part. By the way, VH1 ranked this as the 3rd greatest metal song of all time. Not "One", but "Master of Puppets". I think this song deserves that ranking.Dee - Northfield, Il
Well Spencer, what I meant was...well pretty much what I said, but your right. First off, this is probablly the most important album in heavy metal, as you said. Second, it would be pretty retarded for someone to buy such a metal masterpeice, and only listen to one song. But...yea...Metallica rules, this song got me hooked, and...they need some Metallica on Guitar Hero!!Evan - Otway, Oh
your right evan. But people need to like the ALBUM not the SONG

most influencial metal album in history more people citing inspiration from it than any other
Spencer - Mcbride, Canada
Master.....Master!!!!!!!Dino - Larissa, Greece
Things like that piss me off. People say they heart Metallica, when we all know there reffering to St. Anger Metallica. If you love Metallica, then you need to love Master Of Puppets. Well, maybe not NEED...but its a damn good song! And JT, I'd have to say that One and Master Of Puppets are a tie for me...both very god-like!!!!11!!!~~1oneEvan - Otway, Oh
Yeah Brooke from Ohio, it does rawk. I love this song. It's not the best Metallica song. I think One fills that spot. BUt damn it, this song did kick ass. This is the only title song by Metallica that happened to be the best on it's album, and one that's ranked amongst the best on any of their albums. man, I was so damn pissed at people who kept saying Enter Sandman was the best and when they'd get Metallica songs, they always got Sandman and never this one! It drove me insane. The first time I heard this I was so high and we were listening to Sandman when my friend Alex said, "Let's play Master of Puppets." I was iffy, I didn't know if I was cool with that because I thought Master of Puppets was something made for the movie of the saame name. I heard it, and I was blown away. As high as I was I just couldn't turn it off. The fade out of "master" when they hit the bridge freaked me out, but I totally understood the song because I'd done cocaine before, and I knew what it was like to be addicted. It related, and I marked it as my favorite until I heard it too much and thenn heard a metal masterpiece called "One."Jt - Tullahoma, Tn
Some people have the stupidest comments, this song freakin rawks. and the lyrics are ingeniouse hetfiels is such a talented song writerBrooke - Otway, Oh
One of the best metallica songs ever. After reading the lyrics and the comments posted, i think we can now all agree that it is to do with drug addictions. but i can see how people mistake the cover of the album with the song itself. Meh, i just wish metallica would go back to the style of the god old days with albums such as kill 'em all, ride the lightning, master of puppets .....and justice for all. cause everyone of those albums are a piece of musical art.Danny - Sydney, Mt
Primus covered the first min. of this song at woodstock 99.Brandon - Morristown, Tn
Oh my god! Backward messages people! I found one! It's near the end. "Hell is worth all that, natural habitat, Just a rhyme without a reason never ending maze, drift another days, now your life is out of season. I will occupy" <----> "Now he's number one. Now he's *gibberish* you know you are . Hey your one of us! Sippin' the bourbon. Blood he don't want *gibberish* i ask if I want a massage, I don't feel good." So is it talking about drinking in reverse? Maybe they all are acknowledging their alcoholic problems in reverse? Hmmm... I knew tis song had a message, and I'm happy I found it.Jt - Tullahoma, Tn
I for one actually doing cocaine know that this song is more about cocaine. It also has heroin references, but the "Chop your breakfast on a mirror" line is a term used by coke heads. Most people who go on cocaine binges end up doing so much they never wanna eat so they end up using coke to settle meals. I did too. One fat rail is the breakfast of champions. Now as for the needwork the way line, I can't relate. I never used Heroin. I've used Methadone before, but not Heroin. Anyways, this is a cool song. Especially when your high. People call it a buzz kill! No, this song tells a story. It's good. it's god man. I know Metallica has done some coke. They can't lie. This song is played in the rythm of a cocaine binge. It starts fast, then slows down when your out, then you need more and you go over the edge and the guitars well told that. The laughing signifys the denial of the puppets because they try not to admit their addictions. So yeah. Who said this was about war? Wow people, "Chop your breakfast on a mirror?" Never heard that war term, and I read Tom Clancy. I see songfact forums that talk about songs and people defending the fact that the songs they love are not about drugs. Now us Metallica fans are defending the fact that this song IS about drugs.Jt - Tullahoma, Tn
ths song and album is the crowning jewl on the metallica empire. not the black album like many people think. Although the black album is really amazing toHeadbanger1 - Orangeville, Canada
This song wasn't among my Metallica favourites before I has realtionship with a girl who was drug-addicted in her past. Now it sound very impressive.Jake - Tampere, Finland
the song is about drugs taking over ur life. and how u get addicted to it. "Taste me you will see
More is all you need" -> here he says that ur addicted to the drug. "Your life burns faster" most drugs give u energy so ur cells burn faster. "Needlework the way" -> heroin. "Chop your breakfast on a mirror" -> speed or cocain.
"I will occupy
I will help you die
I will run through you
Now I rule you too" -> as it is.
This is the best album there is. (in the metal scene)
Jort - Amsterdam, Netherlands
This is the penacle song for thinking about a Metal riff.Sean - Flower Mound, Tx
A true spark of genious.. the orchestration between the guitars on early metallica songs is truly amazing and show how badly missed Cliff Burton has been....Stephen - London, England
I always thought the dog tags were just thrown in as a reference to Disposable HeroesAdam - Calgary, Canada
I'll spare everyone the chaos of what this song is about. From James' own mouth, he wrote it about drug abuse. Period.

However, he has also been quoted as saying that he prefers his songs to speak for themselves and let the individual listening interperate it their own way. One of the reasons James didn't do a lot of interviews back in the day is because he wanted "the music to speak for itself."

And indeed it is one of Metallica's most brilliant pieces ever.
Corey - Miami, Fl
Good, long song of GuitarDaniel - Suwanee, Ga
great song from a great album.Devon - Westerville, Oh
Upon reading the lyrics many times, I am a little confused.
The symbolism throughout the song is very ambiguous.
Many symbols seem to point toward drugs, but some of the verse material seems oriented with war.
Also, on the album cover, notice the helmet and dogtag hanging from the graves.
It seems to have something to do with either/or, but it's a beautifully awesome song, one of my absolute favorites.
Robert - Powder Springs, Ga
I believe the song is written more on an alcohol level rather than a drug level, but of course alcohol is a drug so no arguement there. I disagree with the reverse recordings at the end of the song though; I think that it's just a lot of previous riffs jumbled together.Chris - Mooresville, Nc
This is the best performance on the S&M concert. Just great!Edgar - Guatemala, Other
I heard that another meaning of this song could be from james not having the vein in his old todger - thus: "obey your master", and themes like that.Josh - Brisbane, Australia
what shall i say the song says it allApoorv - Bhopal, India
A very good song indeed. Although I know people who listen to it consistently and say how they love Metallica so much, but they only listen to that song. Oh well. And to Andrew of Wheelersburg, OH... the whole album is not about war... Battery was about a street where Metallica played a lot of clubs... go check it out on Songfacts ;).

But to say in the least, I reckon this album was a complete masterpiece.
Christian - Melbourne, Australia
This is Metallica's greatest ryhthm work, the riffs are plain awesome. This is for me their heaviest song also. It's a really innovative song, I like it a lot.Mark - Cebu City, Other
this song has changed lifeJames - Hazlet , Nm
The third comment down is right but not fully true, kirk hammet did bend the e string down and not up but when it came off the fretboard the string fretted on one of his pickups. if you try and bend the e string off the fretboard you get this odd sound that sounds nothing like the end of the "master" solo. kirk said that he doesnt know how that happened but he cant get that sound again.Josh - Sandy, Ut
This is Metallica's best song, period. Fade to Black is the only other song that comes close to this.Raphael - Wayland, Ma
Metallica is the best!! This is one of the best songs EVER made. they are so original and i love that. they always have the best songs.

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Ashley - Chester, Va
Perfection! Metallica at their best. My favorite song is Fade to Black, but this comes close. It's such a great song. In the top 5 all time greatest metal songs of all time. On a side note, actually the solo in this song (along with other Metallica songs) is not hard to play on guitar. I have only been playing a year and a half and I can play this solo, the solo in One, and some to Seek and Destroy. Not prefectly, but it is understandable. Like I said, this is an incredable song and puts the Black Album to Shame. Just this one song is better than the entire album!Rikki - Ashtabula, Oh
This song has a powerful message and is a true masterpiece. My aunt wrote her thesis paper on this song, explaining all the drug references ("Master of puppets, pulling your strings, twisting your mind, smashing your dreams"). She recieved an A for it :)Nameless - Seattle, Wa
I know people have said it over and over again but i would like to confirm the fact that this is about serious drugs not about war,alchohol or one of the guys smoking joints or even Cocaine is chopped up on a mirror by addicts. you generally inject heroin therefore the needle reference.Edan - Melbourne, Australia
Master of Puppets is their greatest hit to me the solos rock every thing about the song rocks!Jackh - Spokane, Wa
This is my Favourite Metallica song, along with And Justice For All, Welcome Home(Sanitarium, One, The Struggle Within, Ride The Lightning, Battery, Sad But True, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Nothing Else Matters, Fade To Black, Fuel,
Orion... I could go on forever.
Ashley - Moncton, Canada
Jerry from Fresno, CA:
Read Maria's explanation....
James surely knows what addiction really means. It's not a "fake" song as you may call it.
Michael - Zurich, United States
Awesome introMatt - Millbrae, Ca
As a great experience for traditional thrash metal, Master of Puppets contains both suffer and dementia in a very energetic complex. No doubt, one of the best of Metallica...Serkan - Ankara, Turkey
whoever said this song is about war needs to slap themselves. when in the history of all wars do you snort coke off a mirror or shoot up on heroin so obviously its about someones addiction to drugs and how it rules their life.Russ - Mivlerton, Canada
This song shows what a great song writer James is. It's an amazing song and clearly about drugs. "chop your breakfast on a mirror" "needlework the way, never you betray" "taste me you will see, more is all you need" goood.. So good.Hildur - Reykjavik, Iceland
Okay, while the song is obviously about drugs, it could easily be interpreted as a song about the government and war, if you remove the two lines: "needlework the way" and "chop your breakfast on a mirror", it could make a lot of sense talking about the government and war. But since they're there, it's about drugs, cocaine and heroin, specifically, and how if you turn to them, they can make you feel good, but they will turn on you "Where's the dreams I was after? Promised only lies.", and the laughing is symbolizes the "master" taking control of more and more people (also suggested with "I will occupy. I will help you die. I will run through you. Now I rule you, too.").Ed - London, Canada
This song as so many people have said and are right is about an addiction to drugs, but someone said something about the band never trying it and not liking that they were singing about something they never knew and that was fake, on a show or something i cant remeber but the lead singer said that he didnt relise tell he got clean and looked back on this song that he was writing what he was going threw. He had an addiction to alchol not drugs but you go threw some of the same things. HE WAS SINGING ABOUT SOMETHING HE KNEW.....ADDICTION!!! weather it be drugs or alchol once you have an addiction you now what the feeling is. He was a puppet to his master Alchol.Maria - Philadelphia, Pa
It's a big step to say it is specifically about Hitler, but you might be on to something about military leaders in general. But that theory is buggered by the lines 'Needle work the way, never you betray.' and 'Chop your breakfast on a mirror.' which have no meanings apart from drugs. Also i have heard Hetfield mention in interviews about how sinings songs about drugs and other s--t he had not experienced was weird. I can't remeber the exact quote, but it was a direct reference to Master of Puppets.

and to 'Jerry, Fresno' who commented on how it's fake for them to sing songs about stuff they have not tried...i have never tried either heroin or cocaine, but i still saw the two direct references in the lyrics. There is no mention of the internal effects of the drugs, just external. They are reasons why the band had not tried them. I don't think it's fake at all, i just think people are enjoying taking the piss out of metallica cos St. Anger was not their best work and the napster thing (and i believe they have every right to protect what is theirs, it is not selling out, it's a matter of honour). Don't let public image cloud artistic opinions, otherwise you are a pathetic fad follower, with no real opinions
Neil - London, England
This song is about Adolf Hitler! i originally thought this song was about drugs (cocain/heroin) but then read someones suggestion that this might be about war, i re-read the lyrics and thought um war isnt addictive is it? well it was in adolf hitlers case were only his senior staff new he was a madmanCallum - Hobart, United States
"Taste me you will see, more is all you need, dedicated to how I'm killing you."
A song written from the drug's point of view.
This idea proves the skills of Hetfield as a songwriter. Awesome!
Michael - Zurich, Switzerland
Yeah, each song is about a different form of manipulation of people. Master of Puppets is definitely about drugs, James said he was writing about drugs he never even tried like heroin and stuff when he was addicted to alcohol. The cover only has to do with one way that people can become slaves to something, like in Disposable Heroes, not necessarily with Master of Puppets.Karol - Toronto, Canada
It's not often remarked upon, but the album is really a theme album about domination, manipulation and control. Up and down the album, a case can be made for each song adhering to this theme (except for "Orion", an instrumental). The cover, as Vigo remarked, mostly depicts "Disposable Heroes" which pertains, very strongly, to the theme of the album.

As far as the remark that the song is not about drugs but about alcohol, hello! Alcohol is a drug. In any case, it's about any drug addiction.
Paulo - India, United States
Andrew, how does the line "chop your breakfast on a mirror" and "needlework the way" pertain to war?? Also, the song Leper Messiah is clearly to do with televangelists and the like. I defy you to explain how that song has to do with war.Paulo - India, United States
I loved the original (album) version guitar solo. I tried to learn in, but i'm vocals in my band, so I really sucked at it.Cody - Houston, Ak
From Trasher Magazine - Vol. 6, No. 8 (1988):
"Master of Puppets" 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. -- James Hetfield
Antti - Helsinki, Finland
Instead of obsessing about the album cover, listen to the songs and you'll find "Disposable Heroes". That will answer your question about the war helmet & dogtags.Vigo - Pittsburgh, Pa
i cant get this song out of my headBilly Ross - Hagerstown, Md
metallica wrote several other anti-war songs about the horrors of war and etc, but this song is clearly about drug use, even though the cover is more anti-war.Reed - Hagerstown, In
it's definitaly about drugs , but the helmet on the front and the hands holding the strings and the graves means that this album is anti-war and how leaders control peopleTim - Leuven, Belgium
Ok ok ok. few things to clear up

Firstly, this song WAS about drugs. IT was about addictions to cocaine, crack, and heroin and NOT alchoholism. I myself am an addict (to neither of these drugs) and the biggest metallica fan in the world. this is one of the songs that helped me clean up.

Metallica still write amazing music. it may not be as good as some of teh stuff on puppetz but hey, i thought puppetz was a dissapointment compared to ride the lightning!

The solo during the clean part i played by bot james and kirk harmonizing by playing a 5th (i think) up the neck
Hetfield - Manchester, England
This song isnt about drugs... its about alchoholism.. james was an alchoholic.. not a druggy.. that was cliff burton...he smoked lots of joints... watch "cliff em all".. he smokes a fatty joint.. its awesome.. i wish i coulda smoked a joint with him.Mike - Drayton Valley, Canada
it is about drugs controlling your life... you are the puppet, and drugs are your puppet master.. if you abuse them.. they will controll you..." Come crawling faster.
Obey your master.Your life burns faster.Obey your master! Master!".. what this is saying is that is that drugs will make u come to them, and they will destoy your life.
Mike - Drayton Valley, Canada
Andrew, your WRONG. The song specifically says: "chop your breakfast on a mirror" a specific reference to cocaine, and also "needle work the way" a reference to heroin. The song is not about war. And "taste me you will see, more is all you need" how does that reference to war?Alex - Oshawa, Canada
i agree that its about drugs but notice the helmet and dogtags on the crosses on the cover of the CD.Taylor - Hesperia, Ca
its defintely about drugs not war or government been a former speed and coke addict i think i know what im talkin about here metallica rules forever! even though older metallica is better than there newer stuff espicailly after the black album i will always be a fan no matter whatJason - Wylie, Tx
best metallica song ever. period. whoever said it was about the government, haha, wat a laugh, u totally misenterpret the song, it is indeed about drugs, i agree i wish metallica kuld still make good music, everything after the black album just, well, sucked reallyCody - Hamilton, Oh
I wanted to let Edgar and Tore know that master of puppets is not about drugs, it is about war. The whole album is about war and this particular song is about how the Government is the master and the military is the puppets. I am very angered that anyone should make up such crap about a song with such meaning like how the government just sits back and watches while men give their lives just because the gomvernment "master" says so.Andrew - Wheelersburg, Oh
The 80's era Metallica changed the world for everyone. Where would bands like Pantera or Mudvayne be with out the vision and greatness of the four horsemen.....even though it seemes they have sold out, I see it as heros enjoying there retirement.Willie - Gulfport, Ms
Okay, yeah this is a great song..but the fact that metallica sold out before anyone even really noticed it is evident. In a "Behind the Music" special on VH1, James Hetfield said that when he wrote this song, which is about cocaine and herion, he was "writting about stuff he never even tried". I mean, personally I dont enjoy "fake" songs like this. Meh..Jerry - Fresno, Ca
Yeah this is an awesome song, a metal master-piece. Too bad they can't write stuff like this now-a-days...Brian - Paoli, In
This is the greatest song in the world,period. In reference to the meaning of the song it talks about how abusing drugs can make you a slave. How drug slowly becomes your master and how you become the puppet.Edgar - Laredo, Tx