Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” Lyrics Meaning

Metallica has dropped a number of songs dealing with the subject of drug addiction. And “Master of Puppets” is one of their most-pointed in that regard. In fact even though it is pretty easy to decipher what this song is about, especially considering James Hetfield gave a concise explanation and all. But the lyrics are still pretty deep. And the unique thematic angle which they operate on is the drug being the titular “master”. Meanwhile the “puppets” are actually those who are addicted to these substances.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Metallica's Master of Puppets at

The Drug (“Master”)

And for the most part the lyrics are being relayed from the perspective of the said substance, as if the drug itself had a voice. Basically, what it is doing is touting its mastery over the addict. This is manifest by the fact that even though it is literally “killing” the user, said individual is still “dedicated” to partaking of it at all costs. And as far as which type of drug the singer is referring to specifically, there is a metaphorical reference to coke in the second verse.

The Addict (or “Puppet”)

Meanwhile the bridge is apparently being sung from the perspective of the addict, and in that case the drug would then be the addressee. What this individual is implying is that when he first decided to use the drug, he was actually under the impression that doing so would be some type of edifying experience. But now that he is quite familiar with the substance, he has come to realize that such ‘promises’ were actually ‘lies’. Moreover he now feels as if he is being mocked by it. But that being said, he is still relying on the substance to “fix” him, as in making him feel better. 

Indeed at the end of the day, we can say the entire point of view of lyrics is more or less that of the addict. For we know that in reality drugs don’t speak.  Or stated alternatively, he has come to understand that his addiction is killing him. Yet at the same time, due to the strength of it, he feels more or less powerless to bring about any sort of positive change. Or perhaps more to the point, he is looking to the same drug which put him in this situation to also relieve him from it. So basically he perceives the problem as the solution.  And in that way this song represents a true case of physical drug addiction.  That is to say that it features a scenario where the addict will probably experience just as much discomfort quitting the drug as he would using it.

Lyrics of "Master of Puppets"

Facts about “Master of Puppets”

This is the title track from Metallica’s third album. It was originally issued by Elektra Records as part of that project on 3 March 1986. And a few months afterwards it also became the only single that was ever released from the album.

Even though this track doesn’t have an impressive chart history, it has been heralded by some of the most-popular music institution as being one of the greatest heavy-metal songs of all time.  And said institutions include the likes of VH1Total Guitar and Guitar World.

The logical reason why such a renowned song didn’t actually chart is because it was released as a single exclusively in France. Yet it did manage to be certified Gold in Italy.

Indeed in a way you can still say that “Master of Puppets” is Metallica’s signature song, considering that as of 2020 they have performed it live more so than any other in their catalog.

Interestingly enough, Metallica was instructed by the Chinese government not to play “Master of Puppets” when they did a couple of live shows in China during 2013. And why did the Chinese government see the need to do this? Simply because of two things. Firs is what they considered its deeply “subversive” nature. And second is because of its drug-oriented theme.

Writing Credits for “Master of Puppets”

The following Metallica members are the official writers of “Master of Puppets”:

  • C. Burton
  • L. Ulrich
  • J. Hetfield
  • K. Hammett

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