Lars Ulrich welcomed his Metallica bandmates to his It’s Electric radio show this week for a conversation about the group’s seminal album, 1986’s skull-rattling Master of Puppets. Thirty-one years after the album—which was Metallica’s first on a major label and the last to feature original bassist Cliff Burton, who died in a tour-bus accident nine months after its release—the remaining members (Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, frontman James Hetfield, and new bassist Robert Trujillo) reminisce about piecing the record together on the road, living through the trauma of Burton’s death and, most notably, Burton’s natural gifts for composition and harmony.
“He always had lots of different ideas that were layered, and it had its own character because it was bass,” Hetfield says of Burton. “He was genius at harmonies and layering and unique phrasing, you know, very classical sounding—not your typical rock stuff at all. He’d always push it one extra little something.”
The interview comes a week after Metallica reissued Master of Puppets in a huge box set that includes vinyl and CDs, live recordings, demos, as well as DVDs with concert films and interviews. (You can read Paste’s review of the reissue here.)
Watch Metallica, who’s also joined in parts by Master of Puppets engineer Michael Wagener, talk about making one of the great metal albums of all time. And while you’re here, check out Paste’s 2016 list on the 25 Best Metallica Songs. Below the video, you can also watch an exclusive clip of Metallica performing “Master of Puppets” at Woodstock 1999.