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I’ve always had the view that when dealing with a metal album that crosses over into the mainstream, the general rule is that the singular song that is most responsible for propelling it into its status embodies all that is both right and wrong with the entire album. This view largely came into being with regards to my view of Metallica’s first break into MTV culture “One”, a video that robbed me of my 9 year old innocence when I first saw it, subjecting me to nightmares, and giving a little extra punch to my father’s stories about the correlation between war and hell. Indeed, this song was my actual introduction to real metal, and left an impression that still shapes my views on it to this day.
Nevertheless, after a little more than 20 years of reflection of this song and experiencing the highly varied and eclectic genre that birthed it, I’ve come to note a certain duality to it. On the one hand, this song is an ingenious melding of balladry and fast paced thrashing, the former element including some occasional borrowing from the introductory material of “Fade To Black” (though rhythmically reinterpreted). But on the other, this is a song that functions more on piling ideas on top of each other more so than really moving in a progressive direction. The acoustic sections are actually quite tantalizing and the drum work is mildly intricate, but Hetfield’s vocal melodies are extremely flat and anti-climactic, all but fading into the mix save perhaps the adequate lyrical content. When things pick up towards the latter half of the song, so does Hetfield’s vocal assault, but ultimately the guitars are what drive this beast along.
The remaining elements going on about the song are of varying consequence, but definitely deserve consideration. It’s well known that the bass is all but a non-factor on all of “…And Justice For All”, but this song as actually among the few examples where a greater bass presence would have complemented the song rather than clashed with the arrangement, particularly during the quiet sections. By contrast, the lead guitar plays an even more key role here than it has otherwise on previous albums, building upon the melodic tendencies of earlier ballad songs/sections from the previous 2 albums, and coming to a head at the climatic shred section, which is among the few solos present on Metallica’s albums that lends itself to recall rather than mere identification.
For the prospective buyer who has yet to purchase “…And Justice For All” but has seen the famed music video for this song, this is a pretty revealing sample of what the album is in its fullness. It is an album that places a little too much emphasis on repetition and goes longer than it needs to, but is not devoid of powerful material. Seeking out this single isn’t really necessary as the chunkier, nastier version of Diamond Head’s “The Prince” is also to be found on “Garage Inc.”, but as with all famous songs, taking an occasion to reexamine why the song moves or annoys you is not a waste of time.
This is the song that gave Metallica the MTV exposure they desperately needed especially after churning out three quality albums of pure adrenalin. The low budget black and white video not only got heavily played but also brought the band within striking distance of achieving mainstream success. Being a part of the big 4 cadre of thrash, Metallica had do something big to maintain their pedestal level, especially after losing a gifted bass guitarist post the release of what many consider to be their magnum opus, i.e. Master of Puppets.
Millions of people consider this a defining thrash classic, but my take on it is slightly unforgiving. Agreed, this song has got some great hooks and riffs that keep it going, but I’ve always found something missing here. And no, I’m not referring to the inaudibility of the bass (this argument would just go on and on till eternity). Vocally Hetfield hits the right notes, so no complaints there. My biggest complaint here is that puny Dane behind the drums, Lars Ulrich who somehow just comes across as someone for whom terms such as proficiency and technical execution never seem familiar. For the most part, his fills and the so called progressive tendencies are annoying to the core. The only time he justifies his abilities and surprisingly even includes some double bass thuds are when the band hits top gear in the middle. Take the whole bay area thrash fraternity into consideration he stands nowhere near the likes of Paul Bostaph(Forbidden), Darren Minter(Heathen), Tom Hunting(Exodus) or even the young and ferocious Filipino drum machine Andy Galeon(Death Angel). Aside this, I’ve always found this song running short of lyrical content and all through its seven plus minute length, which in itself is another factor that has showed my indifference towards it.
Now that I’ve pointed out the negatives, the positive aspect here is that the song is still truly thrash metal with a good clean intro, heavy riffs and decent solos. The only reason why I would listen to this track is just for that “Darkness, Imprisoning me” part, easily one of the best things Metallica’s ever put out. If it weren't for those factors, I'd have given this "One" a good high rating.
One is probably Metallica's most popular song this side of the black album. There was a music video made and this angered a lot of fans. This was the first time Metallica made a music video as it was inevitable. Slayer, Megadeth and anthrax had already done music videos before 1988. But still Metallica get all the criticism in the world.
The track starts off with the sound of machine gun fire and leads into a beautiful melodic intro. The track is lyrically about a wounded soldier who remembers his days in the warfield. Hetfield's direct approach to writing lyrics delivers all the evils of war seen through a soldier's eyes. The song starts off in a slow manner and gets progressively harsher as the song moves forward. Lars' drumming is at it's absolutely innovative peak here. His efforts here raised the standards of Metal forever. No wonder Ulrich's double bass drumming is so infamous. The so called "Machine gun riffs" kick in at about the middle of the song. The aggression is unlike any other Metallica song as Hetfield starts screaming the horrors of the aftermath of war with some of the heaviest and darkest riffs you'll hear in the background. The outro is one of the greatest and most memorable solos of all time, Kirk Hammett never topped this again, or even got close to it.
This is a permanent fixture in Metallica's live performances and for good reason. The song is aggressive as any other song is, without compromising on the lyrics and atmosphere. This is arguably the best track on the overlong "...and justice for all" and arguably one of the greatest Metal songs of all time.
One. The track which is one of the best metal songs ever made and unarguably the best on the breakthrough album on which it appeared, “And Justice For All.”. Okay, first things first. This track had a music video made for it and lyrically it’s about a soldier injured during the first World War. Now about the song…
The tempo changes on this track are mind-blowing. If one hears just the intro and just the outro it will be impossible for one to believe that they are parts of the same track. The track has a slow acoustic intro with sound effects of a war waging on in the background. The acoustic guitars continue for a good part of 4 minutes and near the 4 minute mark the tempo starts increasing. Then straight from the 4:35 till the end of the track is the time that will change the way you look at metal forever. The machine gun riffs and the aggressiveness have to be heard to be believed. These 3 minutes are Metallica at its best and Lars at his peak. The lyrics of this track are as good as it gets considering the war theme. No wonder this track has become a fan favorite and is played on virtually every show Metallica has played live since its release.
The only reason I did not give this track a complete 100 is because of the bass which is hardly audible, but then again it wasn't very audible throughout the entire album but the overall awesomeness of the track both musically and lyrically more than made up for it's absence. "...And Justice For All" is my favorite Metallica album and one day I may review the whole here on Metal Archives, but before that day comes I just wanted to review one of my favorite Metallica tracks.