A song for today

The stunning end to a stellar album. Metallica’s 1986 epic Master of Puppets closes with this track, and it’s almost too much. It opens with almost unbearably poingnant washes of guitar, evoking sorrow, regret, elation, and a transcendent joy. All too brief, then the cold, hard, precise lockstep riffs bring you crashing back down to earth. Reality intrudes on the longings that the ghostly opening evoked, even before you’ve barely felt them. The lyrics are characteristically brutal early-period Metallica, maybe the most savage on the entire disc. You don’t know quite what James Hetfield is talking about, but you know it’s bare-knuckle, bloodshot, fight to the death time. I felt the urge to pull this album out today specifically just to listen to the beginning of “Damage Inc” — and I did, numerous times — but then I listened to the rest of the album and remembered why it was what I reached for today. The riffs helped me concentrate. “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” is another one that hit home. (Maybe another day we’ll talk about that one.) Enjoy the song.

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