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While the reasoning behind why “…And Justice For All” was a controversial release among thrashers varies depending on who you talk to, it is pretty well established that Metallica has veered back and forth in terms of style since the latter half of the 80s, and this single is probably the most blatant demonstration of it. Between the razor thin, high end, and fairly dry production and the angrier than ever vocal display out of James Hetfield is a band that seems to be trying to please everyone, throwing a little bit of this and that from one song to the next.
“Harvester Of Sorrow” reflects a latent doom metal tendency that began to surface here and there on the famed 4th studio album, drawing heavily from a number of minimalist ideas that had been surfaced a few years prior by Candlemass and more than a decade prior by Sabbath. However, the salient point of the style that all but completely flew over the heads of these guys is that when you deal in heavily repetitive and slowed down music, atmosphere is king, and what is presented as such here couldn’t be passed off as a lowly knight’s squire. The trebly guitar tone, the detached rhythmic tendencies of the drums and the non-existent bass don’t work in this setting, to speak nothing for how stale the flat implied vocal and guitar melodies become after a couple of listens.
Nevertheless, the band really gets the job done nicely in the b-side department, and would make this an good pickup if found at a reasonable price, provided that money wasn’t already thrown at the cash grabber rereleases of these songs of late. The Diamond Head cover is particularly of note given that it presents Metallica reinterpreting their former style of 1982-84 but through the darker lens of their 1988 sound. The top-heavy production works well against the proto-speed/thrash nature of the original song, and Hammet’s solo work is top notch. The cover of “Breadfan” is also a revealing song, showing that as far back as 1973 there were bands predicting the very style that became so widespread in the 80s, while still having that signature pentatonic riffing approach common to early 70s rock.
It’s a judgment call on whether to get this given that “Garage Inc.” has this along with a lot of the other famous 80s Metallica cover songs on it. It mostly hinges on whether you want all of the crappy 90s stuff that comes with the latter package, though getting a cheap used copy of said compilation might be a safer bet from a monetary standpoint. But on its own, this is one of the few singles out there where the a-side sucks but the b-sides are pure auditory treasure, and the wicked album art has to count for something.
....And justice for all had it's share of controversies, The death of cliff burton, The entry of the 'invisible kid', Jason newsted who was basically absent in the production of Justice. Metallica were heavily criticized for the production and the sheer length of the album, I can understand the criticisms regarding production but many half-balled metalheads couldn't stay awake for an hour.
Harvester of sorrow is almost a doom metal track, The track personifies many Sabbath-ish influences and adds a super-charged thrash metal kick to it. This was truly how metallica should've stayed after their first four albums. Personally, I think this is Lars's best drumming performance. The intro is extremely original, The guitars and the drums are in perfect harmony to create a very heavy thick intro. The build up to the main riff has a hauntingly melodic atmosphere to it. As soon as the main riff kicks in, You can't help but bang your head until it bleeds. The slow but irresistably heavy riff makes this one of the most original songs ever. Just watch the live performance back at 'Monsters of rock 91'.
4:10 - 4:42 is just pure mayhem, The awkward 'pause and resume' feel of the drums and guitars, Just promises to make your head and neck sore. The biggest strong point on this song is the lyrics, The vocal delivery and the conviction behind them. This was the last time hetfield really sounded his raw best before mellowing out on 'Load' and 'Reload'. Kirk's eerie solo in the song is one of my favorite solos and sounds like impending doom is to follow and remind me a lot of sabbath's stuff.
This is one of my personal favorite songs, The pummeling synchronization of the drums and the sharp guitars make this one of the heaviest songs of all time. The other songs on this single are 'Breadfan', Which is a very interesting cover of an old school song. This is arguably their best cover song, They transformed the track into a thrash metal monster of sorts in the middle section after the initial lyrics and riffs end. The cover of diamond head's The Prince' is a mixed bag, The riffs and the drumming no doubt sound better but hetfield's singing is not too bad, His vocal delivery in and around the 'singing' parts isn't that good. But it's still a honest cover of one of their biggest influences.
If you feel that '....And Justice For All' is a little too long and depressing for your tastes, Get this single, Which is arguably the best song on the album, Considering it clocks in at less than 6 minutes in length. If you really enjoy sabbath, Metallica or just really heavy stuff, You will not be disappointed by 'Harvester of Sorrow'.
Another single from “… And Justice For All” and one must admit nothing much went wrong with this album irrespective of the fact whether you are a Metallica fan or not. This pretty much sums up the track itself but I’d like to elaborate a little.
Though the exact meaning of the lyrics is not known it is pretty sure its anti-government as is the theme of the album on which the track appeared. The fact that the lyrics are against the state of justice that prevails now days can be solidified after one sees the artwork which depict a hand emerging from a skull holding the scales of justice. The lyrics of this track are equally as strong and harsh as the other tracks on the album (And Justice For All, One) but the point to be stressed on is that not only lyrically but musically the sing stands up to them and in their league. It is said that “…And Justice For All” is Metallica’s most technical album to date and this track is as technical as heavy metal can get. The intro to the album where the drums and guitars set in simultaneously is one of the best moments on the album. Lars, in my opinion reached the height of his career on this album and that is obvious in this track. Harvester Of Sorrow is one of the shortest tracks on the album yet as powerful as the others.
This track can be summed up in the words, excellent. exhilarating . Sigh, just another day at the office for Metallica, and yes this EP contains to pretty well covered songs too but I haven’t commented on them because they appear on a later Metallica album.