10 career-altering third albums from bands in the 1980s

These third albums were a bunch of excellence.

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MASTER OF PUPPETS by Metallica (1986)

Did I mention that 1986 was big? Of course, metal existed long before Kirk Hammett’s thrashing guitar and James Hetfield’s tenacious vocals took the world by storm. And Metallica was already a known factor by the time of their third album. But just as several of the albums in 1986 introduced genre artists to a wider audience, Master of Puppets was the first Metallica album heard by lots of the band's eventual fans. The title track became their first major hit and is still one of their most beloved tracks.

Within five years, Metallica would be recognized as one of the most dominant forces in music. Each new album was a virtual lock to hit number one across the world. They hadn’t reached that point by 1986, but the potential was all on display. “The Thing That Should Not Be” burst out of the sludge like a dinosaur crawling out of a tar pit to wreak havoc on the nearby city. “Messenger of fear in sight – dark deception of the night” foretold of a nightmare. But it was a nightmare just melodious enough to appeal to a mainstream ear. “Orion” is more than eight minutes of grinding guitars that nonetheless is almost impossible to turn away from.

You can make the case that metal’s forefathers – Black Sabbath, and Iron Maiden – were the genre’s greatest bands. Personally, I prefer Motorhead to them all. But Metallica remains a titan to this day, more than forty years after they first appeared on the scene. Master of Puppets is where their eventual domination of an entire wing of hard rock became obvious to anyone with ears.