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Metallica > ...and Justice for All > Reviews
Metallica - ...and Justice for All

Flawed Favorite - 86%

aidane154, June 8th, 2024

I love this album, it is by far my most listened to album by Metallica. Even though it's my favorite, that doesn't mean I don't realize that it's flawed in several key areas. In fact, many of the places this album misses the mark remain staples to this day, like the songs being too long. For me though, despite its obvious (and not so obvious) imperfections, this album still kicks ass.

Opener Blackened is a total scorcher, with its eerie reversed intro and syncopated fury. Right off the bat, this song shows us Metallica means business, not just instrumentally, but also lyrically (an area which was previously hit or miss). While Blackened maintains the winning formula of the preceding album's opener, Battery, the band has increased the timing fuckery even further, taken the thrashy rhythms to heavier and more menacing territory, and even ironed out the shaky/vague lyricism seen throughout Master of Puppets. Hetfield takes on several enemies with a sharpened pen, ripping apart polluters (Blackened), shady governments (title track, Eye of the Beholder), the atrocities of war (One), cults (Harvester of Sorrow), and even his own parents (Dyer's Eve).

That pretty much goes for the whole album really, bigger hooks, better riffs, and smarter poetry. As for highlights, my personal pick is Shortest Straw, a heavy rager which features not only the apex of the album's lyricism, but one of my all time favorite grooves from the band, with one of Ulrich's most impressive drum performances ever. The syncopation of the drums, guitars, and bass (hearable if listening to one of the bonus demo tracks or an isolated version from Guitar Hero) is simply stellar, not to mention the sizzling solos from Kirk Hammett, who also graces just about every other song with some of his greatest shredding ever. Much has been said about their breakout single, One, and while I have pretty much nothing new to say about it, I think it holds up very well and remains one of their best ballads as well as another highlight of the album.

So with such great lyrics and music, surely it's a 10/10, right? No. There is an elephant in the room here I've mostly avoided til now, the most obvious mistake of all: the production. We all have seen the bass memes, heard the various fanmade remixes/remasters attempting to fix it, and read the news articles wherein Lars and James play dumb about the whole thing. The infamous fiasco of Hetfield and Ulrich forcing Fleming Rasmussen to turn Jason Newsted's bass down to essentially muted levels is pretty inexcusable, but it goes further than just barely audible bass. They didn't fill in the void with anything! Ulrich's drums are extremely thin, his kick drum is pretty much the only instrument inhabiting the low spectrum, but it barely does the job since it is also very thin for some reason. The rhythm guitars are slightly better in this regard, with their satisfying thickness and hum, but once you've heard remixes with the bass restored or redone, there really is no going back. It remains a big shame that one of the band's greatest achievements was hamstrung like this, and by the main 2 guys no less!

Going further with flaws, let's take a moment to notice that every track is longer than 5 minutes. There is not a single short and sweet song on here, some are nearly 10 minutes! There had been a steady progression towards longer and longer songs as the albums came out, but the song lengths here are pretty ridiculous. Yes, the title track from Master of Puppets had that unnecessary final minute or two, but And Justice For All has nearly 3 minutes of fat that just didn't need to be there. It could have ended at around 7.5 minutes, but just keeps going! The other tracks aren't nearly as lengthened, but all contain some kind of unnecessary extra part or two. Eye of the Beholder has the extra verse and chorus at the end, Frayed Ends of Sanity has nearly 2 minutes of repeated parts that add nothing, the list goes on. I can understand extending To Live is To Die, it's a love letter to Cliff and contains his final contributions to the band, but there really seems to be no reason for Eye, Harvester, and Frayed to be so damn long.

And Justice for All is my favorite Metallica album. It is not, however, the best Metallica album. It could have very well been, but the overlong songs, the production issues, and the results of hazing Jason Newsted all detract from its excellence. It is certainly a great album, showcasing a marked musical evolution from all members. The scathing vocals, the thoughtful lyrics, the sizzling solos, hell, even the drumming is better than ever before (or since). But the way it clips its own wings with bafflingly awful decisions made behind the scenes is a total shame. Despite all that, it remains my favorite, even though I seldom bump the official mix anymore.

Elevated magnificence buried in repetitious Hetfield habits - 67%

Annable Courts, August 24th, 2023

An album that can be polarizing, this is the last 80's, fully metal Metallica record, but it's also the first featuring Jason Newsted on bass replacing the late Cliff Burton, which meant a few things. The album was always going to generally feel more sharp than the rounded sound of previous Metallica. This has this more mathy, more angular edge to it in the riffs and in its production than 'Master's organic musicality. It's also more one-dimensional and one speed only, for despite its much talked about prog format, it still sounds more conventional. It can sometimes sound like it's just jugguh-jug jugguh-jug guitars the whole time. There are lots of flat-out routine riffs, at times that aren't even riffs but generic rhythms in drawn-out songs where the focus obviously gets lost in a somewhat inexplicable insistence on pushing and pushing with one same basic guitar part.

Of course, there's also some of that genius, next level composition here as well. This still is eighties Metallica. That intro lead-guitar symphony on 'And Justice...' produces the oddest effect. Its major/chromatic amalgamation takes the uplifting nature of the major scale and inserts it elegantly into a chromatic framework that grants the part a distinct feeling of elation and pure victory. The acoustic guitar intro on the daftly titled instrumental, 'To Live Is to Die', is an incredibly well written piece of music, and it's rare an entire melody is as beautiful from the first to the last bar. That track is home to another amazingly well written section: the full melodic section in the middle. Sections like these depict in full breadth the aesthetics of the album cover: one of epic proportions and a state of blissful grace (albeit grace transgressed on the cover). And the songs are generally cohesively written, with parts that stick.

But then, there's a lot of filler, and the songs are so very long when their actual value in second-for-second density would suggest they ought to have been half the length. This is obvious in those endless generic rhythms, but on some lead patterns too that push too hard but aren't going anywhere - like they're just filling in the space. So there's this obstinacy in the songs throughout. It's even there on some better known moments like the chorus on 'One', which always sounded broken, especially that last time it's played. The immediate post-chorus lead embellishments again join that gorgeous "moral aesthetic" of the album, heard on the title-track intro. It's like the band all of a sudden go airborne and reach for the clouds to attain some rare state of melodic nobility and unheard majestic sophistication.

So the riffing is more jagged than ever, as heard on the album's first riff, the barbed main theme on the iron-fashioned 'Blackened'. This is partly due to the oh so publicized omission of bass on the record that, despite all obvious criticism, seems to produce a certain appeal to the mix: the quasi-absence of low end at the back of the guitars meant the drums and kicks in particular would enjoy a probing prominence, granting the mixes a harder hitting, cutting edge, and along with the more complex riffing, results in that clinical sonic precision. It's undeniably an album that emphasized rhythm as well. Some good rhythms can be found (that part on 'The Frayed Ends Of Sanity'), but an argument can be made that in Burton's demise, Hetfield was given free reign and too much of it. The result is a Metallica record generally less musical, and more centered around plain voice over rhythm guitar sections, with less overall fantasy and the establishment of a quite horizontal monotony.

Strategic Defense Initiative - 100%

Sweetie, May 6th, 2023

Working behind two albums that more or less offered the same taste of thrash under mildly varied guise, Metallica came into the end of the decade in the same fashion of many of their peers. By that, I mean they co-opted the final blow of cold war/nuclear fallout propaganda mixed with general political corruption, and a side of slightly progressive songwriting. Though I use that term pretty liberally, And Justice For All comes close in the same way that Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son did the same year in terms of longer songs with useful repetition and irregular rhythms. Despite this, there’s no loss of fury and rage that was presented on the record prior, combining all of these aspects to hold the title of my favorite record by the band.

Most criticisms outside of the lack of bass (how original) align themselves with these very aspects that I praise, rather than complain about. Moreover, I would argue that Lars’s drumming is some of the best here, not the worst. It’s accented by the dryer production, clicking through with a powerful ear for rhythm alongside the jarring riff structures. His fills are also notable, highlighted in the title track and the instrumental “To Live Is To Die,” boosted by their longer runtimes. Actually, the explosive drumwork accents the energetic release opening things up on “Blackened.” This song in general does an incredible job of setting the state with all of its lyrical aggression and hoarse vocal delivery.

With that, I think everything mentioned thus far is also enhanced with the flatter production. The absence of audible bass subtracts nothing from the songwriting or the flow, and the burning riff tones under advanced leads do this justice (ha). Songs like the doomy “Harvester Of Sorrow” boast another layer of heaviness thanks to that, which has the same effect on “The Shortest Straw.” This one has some of the tightest chops in terms of aggressive speed meeting intricacy, breaking in higher layers of intensity as the song progresses. The shifts are very subtle though, especially because it slowly ascends in pitch, not speed; a unique touch, if you ask me.

Let it be telling that we still haven’t touched all of my favorite tracks yet. And Justice For All works wonders sequentially, held up by the foundation that built everything thus far discussed, but its individual outlier songs are supreme. For starters, “The Frayed Ends Of Sanity” not only rakes in blistering suspense, several different speeds, and the most advanced solo on the record, but it also channels feelings of insanity through this and James’s menacing delivery. If I had to pick a favorite Metallica song of all time, that’s it. On the topic of emotion, “One” drives in the opposite direction, using some of Kirk’s cleanest and swift leads to convey hopelessness that still swings back into the groove of things; truly a great way of utilizing guitar licks in place of extra lyrics, making a nice balance. “Eye Of The Beholder” touches a similar cadence to “The Shortest Straw” just with its attitude concealed, and closer “Dyers Eve” lets out a personal barrage of rage that packs all of this influence into a dense, five-minute jawbreaker.

If anything, the lack of bass, the dryer production, the repetitiveness, or whatever else someone might complain about only shows that the band was able to touch their peak without needing assistance from compelling bass, better production, and straightforward writing. It’s really the last Metallica album that falls into my category of having no real complaints, or very minor ones. This wouldn’t happen again until Death Magnetic two decades later, one that I see as this disc’s true successor. I have a soft spot for plenty of things between the two, but the energy is miles apart, and I’m glad they could finish off their four-record streak of classic perfection with a bang.

Originally written for

Divisive, But Definitive Metallica - 93%

purging_of_impurity, April 27th, 2023
Written based on this version: 1988, CD, Vertigo Records

"Justice" has always been a subject of debate due to various reasons such as the alleged lack of bass/dry production, longer song runtimes, and being home to Metallica's first music video. While some believe that this album isn't as good as its predecessors (especially the bloated, boring snoozefest Master of Puppets), I believe a lot of this criticism is unwarranted.

Although Metallica's creative peak remains "Ride the Lightning," the criticism that Justice receives is exaggerated. The term "proto-prog" that some use to describe this album is entirely inaccurate. While some of the structures of the songs may be progressive, the album's overall style cannot be classified as such. However, I say this while acknowledging the fact that it IS possible that shitty prog-metal bands could have taken cues from this album, but this isn't the fault of the band.

The album's riffs, particularly in songs like "Harvester of Sorrow" and "The Shortest Straw," are chugging and stomping - something never associated with progressive metal. Although the album definitely contains depth, particularly in "Blackened" and "Frayed Ends," these elements are not enough to classify it as "proto-prog." Nevertheless, the riffs are pounding and jam-packed throughout the songs' longer runtimes; enough to keep the listener invested, in my opinion.

The musicianship of the band is at its objective peak on this album. Hammett's solos, especially in songs like "One," are some of his finest and demonstrate his abilities greatly. However, the highlights of the album are the rhythm playing, vocals, and drums. Hetfield's aggressive bark on this album became a staple of his vocal style, while Lars' drumming is razor sharp, with excellent displays of double bass throughout, especially on "Dyers Eve." Back on the topic of the vocals, Hetfield's vicious snarl is finally realized and carries the album's sense of aggression and anger. The riffs do much of this as well, played with robotic precision and never let up.

Now comes the topic of Jason Newsted and the album's supposed "glaring lack of bass", which, to me, is completely blown out of proportion. You can pick out his playing with relative ease throughout the whole album, and the low end is most definitely present. I believe he should've been louder, yes, but the decades-old claim of him being essentially muted is total BS.

A subtopic I wanted to also bring up in this already bloated review is Justice compared to its successor, the infinitely more divisive eponymous album. If you listen and analyze both records, they are not unalike. Both albums have stomping, chugging grooves throughout their runtimes and place a far lesser emphasis on thrash and skank beats (this being a cornerstone of thrash drumming.) Literally, if you stripped back Lars' more complex feats on this album and simplified the solos, you have a 1988 Black Album.

Overall, "And Justice for All" is an excellent album that easily tops two of its predecessors (Kill 'Em All, Puppets) and rivals their creative pinnacle. Although it may not be Metallica's peak creatively, it remains my personal favorite due to its musicianship, production, and overall aggression. My only gripe with it is that its longer runtime does end up making it a little drawn out, and frequent relistens can be difficult; despite this, this is THE Metallica album in my opinion, and I wish it was treated more as such.

Still in their primes - 96%

AxlFuckingRose, April 20th, 2023
Written based on this version: 1988, 2 12" vinyls, Elektra Records

Metallica’s fourth album is sometimes lauded as the pinnacle for the legendary bay area outfit, but more often than not it is mocked for the lack of bass in its production (which we’ll get to). The truth is, its true rating is somewhere in the middle, but generally leans closer to the band’s apex and should absolutely be regarded as a part of Metallica’s prime.

Through two songs, you’d be hard-pressed to find a flaw. “Blackened” is a sterling exercise in technical riffing and guttural Hetfield vocals, with Lars’s drumming still able to keep pace. The progressive song arrangement is fresh for the band who was at this point three albums deep in traditional thrash, but it doesn’t come off as inauthentic or gaudy. The riff changes and tempo adjustments feel natural, although a bit hampered by the thin production. The title track’s ten-minute runtime seems daunting, but doesn’t feel long-winded and the poetic lyrics are certainly the drawing point.

Kirk Hammett delivers some of his most electric and colorful soloing on AJFA in songs like “Blackened” and “The Shortest Straw,” but its the impeccable chemistry between James and Kirk that drives this album, from the flawless guitar work of “Dyers Eve” to the lick-fueled storytelling of the harrowing “To Live Is to Die.” Even when the band operates with slower rhythms like the chugging “The Frayed Ends of Sanity” and the clean-cut “Harvester of Sorrow,” the band manages to throw enough riffs at you that the songs stay interesting throughout. Lars’s drumming, while on its last legs, manages to keep up and he provides clever fills throughout.

And now we get to the production. It isn’t awful, like most metalheads will tell you, but the absence of the bass is certainly felt, and it certainly is part of the ledger. Remastered and revisited versions you can find on YouTube and elsewhere do this album a lot of justice (haha), but the reality is, the album as it was released is what I am reviewing. And the lack of bass is a knock for otherwise quality production, with excellent mixing on the drums and a cool, crisp guitar tone. Truth be told, it’s mostly the production that knocks this down a couple pegs. Other than that, this thing is yet another installment of Metallica being perfectly in tune with the times. Unfortunately, this would be the last time they would be that aware.


Master Ov Reality, October 3rd, 2022
Written based on this version: 1988, CD, Elektra Records

On a personal note, I would like to preface this review by mentioning that I do not usually like to write reviews for releases that are well-known or already have mass reviews because I do not want to add to the endless noise and opining that have been expressed repeatedly about classic releases throughout their history. In addition to this first reason, I also enjoy the process of unearthing and bringing to light releases that I may consider a little underrated or obscure. However, I have been listening to Metallica and their releases for over 30 years, and whether I am aware of it or even like it or not, Metallica and their music has become a pervasive part of both my conscious and subconscious being. So to summarize: I will be reviewing more widely known releases because I think listening to said releases for decades has given me enough time to accumulate and share some thoughts on them. End of preface, and on to my review...

1988s "...And Justice For All" is a landmark release for both Metallica and quite possibly for thrash metal in general. It has been mercilessly mocked, in equal parts incessantly praised and more than anything else, religiously copied (yes, Pantera I am looking at you). It marks both the first appearance of new bass player Jason Newstead as well as their first top 40 song on the pop chart (and arguably, one of the most depressing to ever do so), the elegiac ballad "One", which in another first for Metallica, was the first video clip they ever created for a song.

For a lot of people, both fans of rock and metal and non-fans alike "...and Justice For All" was a lot of people's first serious encounter with Metallica, apart from maybe seeing their names in ads for rock t-shirts in comic books or magazines, or if you were lucky enough, seeing them in concert videos on MTV or maybe even seeing their records in stores.

"...And Justice For All" could be seen as a continuation of the stylistic arc established on "Ride the Lightning" and "Master of Puppets": expertly played thrash with healthy doses of progressive influences, clean guitar and no ambivalence towards instrumentals. Thing is, on "...And Justice For All", the men of Metallica take these elements and amplify them to their logical conclusion, (almost as a parallel to Crumbsuckers "Beast On My Back" of the same year). All the music elements and virtually everything else that made Metallica up to that point is cranked up to the nth degree on virtually every song and the results are exemplary.

It is also an album that contains a lot of paradoxes. It has some of the most involved, complex arrangements of Metallica's career while having some of the best, most memorable and accessible hooks on a Metallica album ever. The wobbly, off-time verse of "Blackened" and the endless build-ups in each song result in awesome payoffs in the hooks of the aforementioned "Blackened" as well as the the title track (to name a couple), and as it turns out, this is a welcomed recurring theme throughout all the songs on "...And Justice For All": knotty, muscular riffs climaxing into memorable, hook-laden melodies, both musically and vocally. The pre-chorus and higher end guitar work serve as both conveyor and detour on the musical path to the ever-building choruses. Kirk Hammett's solos are also more advanced than the solos tonally and sonically on "Ride the Lightning" but have not yet descended into wah-wah wank world.

There is a steady consistency to each song, as well as the flow of the tracklisting, but I would be remiss if I did not mention 3 songs that I find are more singular than others on "...And Justice For All" in the form of "One", "Harvester of Sorrow" and "To Live is to Die". These 3 songs are the type of song that Metallica would regularly put on their releases, and which also set them apart from a lot of contemporary thrash bands: the ballad, the mid-paced stomper and finally the instrumental.

Metallica are one of the few nominal thrash metal bands that were pretty consistent with the placement of ballads on their albums, and who also put a lot of thought into said ballads. "One", Metallicas first appearance in the pop charts, is no different. The guitar music, especially the opening and up to the beginning of the verses is as beautiful as the lyrics are horrifying. But based upon the fact they had toured with Ozzy a couple years before and "One" being their first video, it was a shoo-in to be their first hit. "Harvester of Sorrow" is a mid-tempo song in the vein of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" on "Ride the Lightning", "The Thing That Should Not Be" on "Master of Puppets" and "The Small Hours" on "Garage Days Re-visited" and honestly it needs no further introduction because by now it's hulking death march of riffs and homicidal lyrics have been burned into the collective consciousness of metalheads everywhere. Finally, the (except for a brief spoken word part) instrumental "To Live is to Die", which is an epic send-off to sadly departed bassist Cliff Burton. Speedy thrash attack "Dyers Eve" comes in quick succession after said instrumental, and that's all she wrote.

Certain observers might be tempted to compare and contrast "...And Justice For All" with other thrash releases of the same year in 1988 (particularly Megadeth's) but honestly, "...And Justice..." leaves "So Far So Good So What!" in the dust. At the very least, it was Metallica's way of demonstrating that thrilling is their business as usual, and business was good. Metallica could write an epic, progressive and immersive album that was their way of dealing (or not dealing) with the pain of the death of Cliff Burton, demonstrating that even as a band that was emotionally scarred, they could still out-everything any other given metal band on the planet. It is an album that puts the potential and the intelligence of metal on prominent display both musically and thematically. In a way, "...And Justice For All" is an end to thrash metal in the same way the aforementioned "Beast On My Back " by Crumbsuckers was the death knell of crossover thrash. There was simply no where else to go creatively, and nothing else to achieve. Sure, over the next 2 or 3 years, other bands like Kreator, Sepultura and Megadeth tried to keep up, releasing classic and climactic albums of their own in that period, but Metallica already knew the jig was up with thrash and went in a whole other direction around that time, which paid enormous dividends to Metallica as well as forcing thrash into other permutations, handing over the reigns of the genre to up and coming innovators like Pantera and Ministry.

As for Metallica, they nailed the final nail in the coffin of thrash, and kept on hammering, dismantling the genre entirely on "Metallica" and becoming steadily more unrecognizable in subsequent years. In this way, "...and Justice For All" is almost like Metallicas magnum opus. It is a steroidal record by a band who seem to be in denial of the fact that they are still in mourning, but the darkness, determination and immaculate attention to detail that pervade the album is a fitting farewell to thrash as well as a challenge to all and sundry.

Metallica: …And Justice For All - 80%

MetalManiaCometh, July 27th, 2021

Over the years it seems that I’ve had a bone to pick with Metallica’s fourth outing, “…And Justice For All”. Arguably Metallica’s more contentious record in their classic era catalog, bar “The Black Album”, I’ve very much had mixed feelings about the album which I still hold to this day. I’ve had a lot of things said about the record to my friends and peers, which I will attempt to recapitulate here in this review, with some comments being positive, others down right negative. And really, “…And Justice For All” is really all that, a mixed bag of positives and negatives, with the positives just slightly edging it out. Seeing how it seems I enjoy talking about the positives first, I think I’ll keep running with that.

To start off, once more James sounds great here and out of all the production issues, which I will get to, James comes off the best mixed thing here. I mentioned in my “Master Of Puppets” review that James’s vocals have transitioned more into his gruffer approach that has become his main style, well “…And Justice For All” cements this into place. James here is the angriest he’s ever sounded and pretty loud as the production allows him to dominate the mix for the most part. There’s little of the more melodic tendencies of his voice, with “One” being the exception, long gone are his shrills and screeches that were present on the first two records and a little bit of “Master Of Puppets”. It’s an overall great performance though it isn’t my favorite of his as I, again beating a dead horse, views his style in “Ride The Lightning” to be the cream of the crop for James. Both the rhythm and lead guitar sections sound very tight, as Kirk lays down some excellent solo work in songs such as “Eye Of The Beholder” and the already mentioned “One”. James still shows his skill mixing his down picking technique and the alternative picked rhythms in “Blackened” and “Harvester Of Sorrow”.

The use of social commentary is also a highlight here. Gone are the more “We are Metallica” focused lyrical content, Lovecraftian worship, and the simplistic ideology about war; on here, now there is a fair amount of maturity, even more so than the last album. Ideas such as political and legal injustices, corruption, environmental issues, discrimentation and blacklisting, and the inner anguish of a wounded soldier. The only outlier would probably be “Dyers Eve” but lyrically it’s based on a rant by James to his parents so it’s less non-mature and more so personal. Another positive to be had is that there is a fair amount of technical and progressive signatures. The start and stop riffing is also impressive, creating really odd and interesting riffs that sound pretty difficult to recreate. “Blackened” really excels at this, introducing us with a backwards and distorted guitar riff (not an acoustic intro, hooray!) building up into a fairly chaotic riff and as it progresses, mixes around harmonized dual riff soloing. All around, just a fantastic song.

That’s where my positives remain and here on out it becomes much more critical and, I have to warn all of you Metallica and “…And Justice For All” fanboys, fairly negative. Now where should I start? Should I begin with the infamous no bass? Should I crack down the general production? Should I lambaste Lars’s inconsistent drumming? Should I express my discomposure about the exceedingly long run times intermixed with drawn out and slow basic riffing with little variations in said riff or adding additional riffing to keep the songs interesting? Oh boy what should I choose! With the pettiness aside. I think the smartest vocal point would be to address the album's vexed production and move on from there.

The first thing you’ll notice is how dry and thin everything sounds, everything from the guitars to the drums. I’ve heard people try to explain how this “dryness and thinness” adds to the overall theme of the album but the main issue with that frame of mind is that the guitars and drums begin to lose that impact and become somewhat sterile. It feels a little powerless and if you want to deal with existential themes and more political and environmentally serious topics, wouldn’t you want the heaviest sound you possibly could get? Wouldn’t a song such as “The Shortest Straw” sound much better and connected with its own thematic merits if it sounded like, let’s say, “Playing With Spiders / Skullcrusher” (don’t worry, I’ll get back to this later on as I mentioned I would in my “Master Of Puppets” review)?

Speaking of drums being thin, dry, and overtly predominant in the mix, let’s also talk about Lars. If there was one album where you’d start to hear his flaws begin to truly shine, then “…And Justice For All” is a good starting point where it becomes pretty apparent. Lars is inconsistent, and not in a technical proggy way. No, he just can’t keep rhythm which is weird for a drummer as the biggest thing for the drum section is to keep the rhythm so the guitars and bass can work with it, follow it, or play off of it. It doesn’t help that his drums are fairly loud, his playing being inconsistent, and the overall sound being thin and dry and sounding like the tv box I received last month (great tv by the way). To give some credit, Lars does perform his most interesting drumming on songs “…And Justice For All”, “Frayed Ends Of Sanity”, and “Dyers Eve” though there are some off key drum rolls and cymbal hits here and there (come on, you know I have to shit on him some more).

Now if the guitars and drums sound thin and dry, and the drums are far too loud and inconsistent, what about the bass? Matter of fact, what about the musicianship of our newest bassist, Jason Newsted? Listen, we all know that we can’t hear the bass in “…And Justice For All”, we know that. I can’t say if Jason is good or bad, because we all know we can’t hear it, outside small sections of the instrumental “To Live Is To Die” which is the last written melodies from Cliff that the band frankensteined together. So instead of beating a dead horse saying, “can’t hear bass equals bad”, let me talk more about the importance of the bass.

So the simple thing about the bass is that it acts as a weave between the drumbeat, the vocalist, and the guitars. It helps reinforce melody, it helps cover beats that the drums aren't making, it helps as a link between the drums and the melody, and it can help give a sense of power to the song. So in short, it gives songs an extra dynamic or adds to its dynamics, however you describe it. We know how and why the bass was lowered in “…And Justice For All” but what we lost in that process was that extra dynamic and that sense of power, which would have been useful to give a better demonstration and help us feel those pesky “themes” in the overall sound. James and Lars have said the bass lines follow the guitar, and obscures the rhythm section, which is the reason why the bass was dropped so low in the mix. If that is the case, why then, with all of their creativity and skill, would they write bass lines that DIDNT do that? That would have been smart but alas…

Another thing to bring up is the fact that the band had a chance with these new remasters to bring up the bass but choose not to as “these albums are a reflective of their history” but why not just, I don’t know, issue a double disc with the newly remastered album with the bass levels raised higher AND a disc with the original albums production in tact? Ironically Jason’s original band, Flotsam And Jetsam, did this with their debut “Doomsday For The Deceiver” offering both a remaster and the original. But that would be too much for a multimillion dollar band wouldn’t it? Anyways, the lack of bass brings down the overall dynamic the music inhibits, and if the bass was audibly present, it could have helped make the guitars and drums sound a little less thin and dry. Jason truly did deserve better.

I went through the production, I went through Lars’s drumming, I went through the bass mix, I guess the last thing to go into is the writing and the time length. I mentioned that there was a fair amount of technical riffing and progressiveness on the record but most of the album is undercut by long time signatures that have little variation with fairly basic riff structures that become highly repetitive. Most songs range between six and a half minutes and nine and a half, with a couple ranging around five and a half minutes. Most of the time a good portion of songs become monotonous, such as “Eye Of The Holder”, “The Shortest Straw”, “Harvester Of Sorrow”, and “The Frayed Ends Of Sanity”. There’s not much in terms of rhythmic variety in regarding the main riffs and not much of additional riffs to keep the music interesting. The title track “…And Justice For All”, “One”, and “To Live Is To Die”, has a hefty amount repetitiveness but does at least try to add in a little more variations to the songs, with “One” being the most effective even when the main riff goes on for far too long.

The fact that these songs are long isn’t the issue, the issue is the lack of variety in terms of the main riff and additional ones. So to expand upon my comment about Overkill’s “Playing With Spiders / Skullcrusher” back in the “Master Of Puppets” review I made. So I’ve heard a lot of people criticize that song's length, calling it highly repetitive with not much variation as well. Well I think this a good place to compare how “Skullcrusher” does the whole slower, lengthy song better. In comparison, “Skullcrusher” has an overall better production and fully realized atmosphere, something a lot of “…And Justice For All” lacks. Even with its ten minute run time, “Skullcrusher” is able to add little variations every two and a half minutes to one minute through out, either being a small build of the the main riff, a variation of it, the change in riffs for a quicker tempo, the almost two and a half minute solo and the last couple of minutes that takes all that progress and wraps it around in a neat package for a great closing. Longer track time is effectively used to build up “Skullcrusher” whereas in songs like “Harvester Of Sorrow” and “The Shortest Straw”, the main riff is dragged and dragged until you finally get to Kirk’s solos and then right back into that main riff. It lacks build up, it lacks variety, and for everyone who says the album is super technical and progressive, well some of it is, but a lot of it is fairly basic. Hell, I could replace “Skullcrusher” with “End Of The Line” or even bring in a different band like Heathen and use “Hypnotized” or some other band and my point would still stand.

Now with all of these negative criticisms, is “…And Justice For All” a bad record or even a poor one. Well with all these criticisms I flushed out my toilet brain, I must surprise you with my answer, which is no. No, I don’t think it’s bad. It’s far from perfect of course, far from the quality the first three records exhibit but I believe there’s enough material here to warrant a “great” rating from myself, though I was extremely close to placing this album around my rankings that I would consider just a “good” album. Even with this album taking issues I had with “Master Of Puppets”, , such as repetitive song structures and some simplistic riffing that was put into the forefront here, I still believe that the album is fairly catchy and memorable. There are still some impressive technical skills to hear and songs like “Blackened”, “One”, “The Shortest Straw”, and “Dyers Eve”, which to me are the stand out tracks on the album. “…And Justice For All” isn’t the greatest Metallica album and it isn’t some fantastic ultra progressive and technical thrash album. It’s a very flawed classic with a lot of ambition that doesn’t fully amount to said ambition. It may be an album that I find to be fairly dull and boring but I think it is a needed record to anyone’s metal collection. “…And Justice For All” acts as a statue to a band who was close to the end of their prime and in my point of view, the last real great or even good record Metallica would create, and after this….well….I will talk about someday in time.

Pseudo-prog experience at its finest - 50%

Ziomaletto, June 12th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Blackened Recordings (Digisleeve, Reissue, Remastered)

Death of Cliff Burton was a tragic event. As one of the few bassists who had such big creative input into a band like Metallica, it's even sadder to think how much he could still contribute to metal music. Everytime an important member of the band goes away - like David Lee Roth with Van Halen - some part of band's charm goes away. Sometimes forever. And it was definitely a case for Metallica, as follow up to majestic and grim 'Master of Puppets' turned out to be such a troubled album.

To put it this way, '...And Justice for All', despite having good basis for a great album, falls flat on its face in almost every aspect. First one is the production. The guitars sound extremely dry and thin. Lack of bass has basically become a meme, but you don't just hire Jason Newsted to completely mute him in final mix. And to everyone who thinks he's a shitty bassist - just listen to 'Doomsday for the Deceiver' by Flotsam and Jetsam. First opening seconds of 6-minute thrashing fun 'Hammerhead' is more than enough to solidify his position in metal world. I have no idea what Lars and James were thinking when they cut Jason's lines off. And those drums... While 'St. Anger' snare is also a meme now, 'Justice's drums sound is really not better. It's like if Lars decided to replace his kit with a bunch of cardboard boxes borrowed to him by Big Boss himself. It lacks punch, it also sounds dry and weak. And adding lack of bass guitar in the mix, it really goes against any heaviness this album could have. Only James' vocals are fairly on point - he's audible enough in the mix and his delievery is quite powerful for what the songs are trying to achieve. If it wasn't for poor perfomances, any live versions of those songs would be much better.

But this is where problem number two appears, the songwriting itself. This is, I think, the first instance of what I'm calling 'pseudo-prog', which is also played by modern Iron Maiden and Exodus - that being, the songs that could easily take around 4, 5, or 6 minutes at most, repeats riffs and adds unnecessary sections going nowhere, making those songs take... 10 minutes. And yes, there are good songs made by those and other bands that lasts for longer. I mean, Heathen's discography is filled with massively long songs. But Heathen, before becoming another Exodus, was able to fill those songs with great hooks and interesting sections, and drumming was much better than that of Metallica's.

To give it credit, the album starts out alright, 'Blackened' is a good opener, but I'm still sick to death of hearing it because of its inclusion in every single live album. Its bridge section is also unnecessarily repeated. If you would cut it in half, it'd be better, but it's still not as good as previous albums' openings. 'The Shortest Straw' is actually quite a good song that could easily find its place on previous two albums, if only the sound wasn't so powerless. I mean, both 'Lightning' and 'Master' are perfect as they are, but if you would replace 'Creeping Death' or 'Disposable Heroes' with 'Shortest Straw', I don't think I'd be mad about it. 'Dyers Eve' is basically this album's 'Damage, Inc.', ridiculously fast finale finishing the album on strong note. Yeah, not really. I don't know, for me it just sounds way too standard to justify its placement in tracklist. While 'To Live is to Die' has its problems, I think it'd suit better if the instrumental was closing this album. Well, that, and 'Dyers Eve' is just not really good. Something about those riffs rubs me in a wrong way.

Those would wrap up faster bits of this album. But it's not like there's nothing else there, it's just buried in unncessary repeats. Title track is the prime example of this, this song really has no reason to last for almost 10 minutes. This song could've been played faster, like, let's say, on show that would be a basis for 'Through the Never' movie soundtrack. Just with better drumming, of course. If you're gonna keep it in the same tempo for its entire runtime, you might as well just make it faster and less boring. Also, its "post-solo" section could've been axed in half. And may I just ask, what's the deal with 'Eye of the Beholder'? Aside from intro there's really no good riffs or hooks to justify its existence. But no, 'Escape' is what James is ashamed of. And of course, the big one (ha ha...), 'One'. Its second half is nice, but, just like 'Blackened', this song is so overplayed live, I can't stand it anymore.

Meanwhile, 'Harvester of Sorrow' is shorter, and because of that, it's better than some songs here. Both 'The Frayed Ends of Sanity' and 'To Live is to Die' have good riffs and hooks, but are unnecessarily dragged-out, losing their potential in the process. And it's a shame, because after Cliff's death, Metallica more than ever had to prove to the world they're still on the top of the game. But the truth is, they weren't anymore. This album, unlike some wants to claim, is no deeper than 'Kill 'Em All'. And while some of KEA's fault can be forgiven because of its primitive nature and the fact that it's the one that started it all, AJFA cannot warrant the same justification.

I could also add something about tracklist, but I really don't think changing tracklist would make this album significantly better. It's just wasted potential.

Best thrash album of all time - 100%

terrr, December 7th, 2020

Metallica's legendary fourth album, entry point to thrash for many people through its amazing songs, the epitome of thrash metal, and a very good example for songwriting and structure. You guessed it, And Justice For All. Undoubtedly, Metallica's best album and also one of the best albums in thrash, rivalled only by a select few masterpieces. This time they're here to take off that green paint from the halls of justice and distribute it to all. I just wish they left it at this and called it a day after their renowned live performance in Seattle.

The only people you find calling this album shit with a shit rhetoric themselves are the people who think hating Metallica is cool while listening to the worst that thrash has output themselves. Because it's coool!

Metallica was a band that was not only thrash but above thrash, rivalled by almost none in this genre. This album only solidifies that position they used to have. It doesn't fall into any of the potential traps that plague nearly the entirety of the genre, whether it's generic, unoriginal songwriting or soulless, "look at how tough I can sound with my stupid high-pitch voice" kind of vocals. Not only that, but this also beholds some of the most emotional and meaningful pieces Metallica has ever written, namely "One," "Harvester of Sorrow" and "Dyers Eve."

The instrumentation is beyond this world, especially the guitars. The riffs are heavy, technically complex, very original and incredibly powerful. James Hetfield and Jason Newsted make wonders in songwriting here, especially when thrashing hard in Blackened and Dyers Eve. The guitars also sound incredible with a unique, low-end leaning tone, which should be an example for any modern band. Not only that, but most of the solos are also listenable and not random pentatonic garbage (or Dave's "look at how fast I can shred" stuff) unlike those in the records prior to this. The clean sections are unique and sound great thanks to their highly progressive elements. It's also great that you can hear the bass in those.

Regarding the foundational instruments, the drums and the bass, they're the only problematic parts of this record. There's the massive problem of the bass not being present, and on a smaller scale, the drums being a tad bit too loud. I can understand why they'd cut out the bass since their guitar tone here already sounds like it's supplemented with bass, but it still creates a major hole when listening to this, especially as a musician. It's just ironic there's no justice for the bass in a record that's named And Justice For All. The drumming on the other hand sounds tight and is Ulrich's finest. While chaotic just like Ulrich's previous efforts, it's chaotic in a good sense here. A highlight to the bone-crushing drums in Dyers Eve.

I cannot overstate how amazing Hetfield's vocals used to be. They were decent in Kill 'Em All, great in Ride The Lightning, an example for thrashers in Master Of Puppets and is a very good example for any musician in this record. The vocals are passionate, angry, perfectly placed in the mix, and sound amazing. He sounds pissed off at all times, and his calmer singing profound in One is also mesmerizing. His voice really sets the atmosphere for this record. It's almost perfect. His lyrics are also excellent, poetic and make good points regarding real issues that are still relevant. And no "just a rhyme without a reason" unlike the previous album.

The songwriting is great, the tones are amazing, and the sound is great. The bass is the only problem regarding the sound.

I often only talk about uniquely good or otherwise notable tracks in albums instead of going over all of them one-by-one, but this album is full of classics. Here goes.

The album begins with the hypnotizing, unique intro of Blackened instantly thrashes you up without mercy around thirty seconds in. With its powerful primary riff, fast verses, strong chorus, exciting bridge and one of the best solos Kirk Hammett has ever written, the opening track Blackened is the best song in this album and best Metallica song overall. The follow-up tracks And Justice For All and Eye of the Beholder are slow and not that energetic, but they're okay and very cool to listen to the first few times. "One" is a half-ballad that gets very heavy halfway into the song. Its clean sections are beautiful and well-written, choruses are powerful and the first two solos are great. It only gets better after it gets heavy. The Shortest Straw is a cool thrasher, nothing much to say about it. Harvester of Sorrow, one of the slower tracks here is a real banger, with its powerful clean sections that blend in perfectly with the rougher sounds, overall heaviness of the track and the emotional music. To Live Is To Die is Metallica's either best or second-best instrumental, rivalled strongly by Orion. Dyers Eve is the album's second highlight after Blackened, with its fast, powerful, unique with its double-kick drumming, which is something Lars never does again, and filled with anguish through Hetfield's voice. The album ends quite abruptly with this, but it's a powerful ending regardless.

It's amazing. It shouldn't even be a debate, this is Metallica's best album.

Highlights: Blackened, One, Harvester of Sorrow, Dyers Eve.

The blueprint for shitty prog metal - 32%

Gas_Snake, March 3rd, 2020

Prog sure is a strange thing. Some people love it, some people can't stand it, yet no one can give you a concrete answer as to what the hell it actually is. Oh sure, there are specific musical aspects that are commonly accepted as staples of progressive music: complex song structures, virtuosic musicianship, unconventional and interesting arrangements, e.t.c. - but those are just disjointed elements that could just as well be present in any genre of music. Obviously, all of those things can be used and abused in a myriad of different ways, and the results may highly vary - such music can be perceived as either an epic journey into the unknown or a pointless exercise in overindulgence.

And now for the reason behind my seemingly pointless babble: this album is the earliest instance of what I can call an awful prog metal album. Metallica's fourth studio album is widely considered to be a borderline progressive metal output that briefly popularized this more sophisticated style among metal fans everywhere. However, it suffers from a lot of things that I do not enjoy about prog metal: long songs with little variety to keep them interesting; needless repetition and interludes with the sole purpose of padding out the songs; heavily downplayed metal elements in favor of something entirely different. All of those things and more would later become the norm for progressive metal (no thanks to a certain other band and album), but that's enough abstraction: time to discuss the music.

Starting with the most glaring aspect: the production. Metallica are not doing their image any good here, as this is some of the worst production I've heard on any famous metal album. It's common knowledge that the bass is completely inaudible (save for most of "To Live Is To Die"), but that's just one of many problems present here. The guitar tone is powerless and sterile, which is an unforgivable offense for any metal band, let alone a thrash band. The drums are too damn loud in the mix, particularly the snare drum - and this even compounds another problem that I'll address later. The vocals are actually quite alright as far as production is concerned, but they alone cannot justify the problems with the instruments. Taking into account that this is supposed to be a much more angry and emotional album than their previous efforts (the band was, after all, in turmoil following Cliff's death), the production is a huge negative impact on the purpose of the album, as it makes it much more difficult to get the band's message across.

However, the main attraction here are the songs. The thrashing mayhem that was the driving force behind their previous output is mostly absent. Taking its place is something that would later become groove metal: namely, slowed down thrash riffs with only a fraction of the energy present in genuine thrash metal. There are some occasional glimpses of decent midpaced thrash in some parts of "The Shortest Straw", "The Frayed Ends Of Sanity", and "Dyers Eve", but the majority of the content here, while certainly catchy, is boring as hell. "Harvester Of Sorrow", while one of the shortest songs here, is one of the most boring, as it rides one single boring groove riff for the majority of its duration.

On top of this problem are the ones that began rearing their ugly heads on MOP: clean guitar sections that are there to only sugarcoat the songs ("One" is particularly disgusting in that regard), and, unsurprisingly, Lars's drumming. If you want a legit reason to hate him, I think I found it: he doesn't keep the beat. At all. Normally, a drummer's job is to keep the rhythm of the song going, so that the other instruments can build off of said rhythm. Lars Ulrich does not give a fuck about such mundane things and just plays whatever he feels like, constantly bashing the snare drum, changing up his drum patterns on the fly and throwing in random fills with no rhyme or reason.

Aside from what's mentioned above, another thing to discuss is this album's supposed progressive nature. The songs are longer, sure, but that alone does not merit a "progressive" moniker to be added to this release. Many riffs here are actually dumbed down here compared to their previous work, thanks to the slower pace. The songs occasionally show some rhythmic inconsistencies, so as to put a riff into uncommon time with no real benefit. It's not even like they specifically wrote the riffs around uncommon time - here it's usually done by adding or removing a few beats to throw you off. Kirk's solos sound the exact same way as on previous albums - I didn't notice any development. Finally, the songs themselves show every sign of needless padding, with many sections repeated for just that purpose. No development in their structure was made compared to Ride The Lightning. "To Live Is To Die" is especially guilty of this, as it follows the exact same formula as "Orion" from MOP: a juicy, melodic middle section sandwiched in between a couple of boring riffs that keep droning on and on - before and after said middle section.

The funny thing is, despite this being the least popular of Metallica's early albums, it still had a large amount of influence on thrash metal. I'm not saying it invented prog thrash - Watchtower deserves all the credit for that. No, this album popularized prog - or rather, the bad aspects of prog. After this album's release, thrash suddenly gained a bigger emphasis on longer songs, more elaborate structures and more "not thrash". Some bands executed this quite well and also relied more on substance and emotional impact (Metal Church and Overkill, for example). Others (Heathen and Dark Angel) blindly jumped on that trend without any second thoughts. All of these ended up being far better than this album, but that was because they were still thrash and still relied on blazing riffage to get their point across. The slowed down riffing here also bears a glaring similarity to the likes of Pantera, and the needless padding and interludes later became a staple of prog through Dream Theater (though THOSE trends would still have to wait a few years). MOP had all of that too, sure, but it wasn't until "Justice" that those influences really began taking center stage and leaving the energy of metal as an afterthought.

You might think I'm quite generous with the rating that I've given this album, but that's because I've decided to rate it without taking its massive negative influence into account. Even so, this is still a terrible album, and one of Metallica's worst. It's just a chore to listen to, and I have no desire to do so ever again. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on something far better and experience complete satisfaction.

Thinking this album is bad is wack - 96%

mjf712, July 12th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Blackened Recordings (Digisleeve, Reissue, Remastered)

What inspired me to write this review more than anything was listening to some people, whose tastes I respect a ton, say that ...And Justice for All is their least favorite of the first 5 Metallica records. I mean what the fuck? Of course, what that statement is really saying is that the Black Album is better than Justice, which in my mind is true mental ward crazy talk. I really don't get it, but I wanted to take the space to actually understand the critiques of this album.

If Master of Puppets and Cliff's death was the climax of Metallica's good years (1981-91, ultimately the only years of the band that matter from a musical quality standpoint imo), then ...And Justice for All is the dark and brooding resolution and the halfway point between thrash glory and bittersweet buttrock disgrace. But it also might be giving AJFA too much credit to have one of the main reasons for liking it be that its successor was a boring hard rock stumble. And it's also important to recognize that for what it is, the Black Album is pretty sick. It has the anthems, it has the ballad, the weird twisting riffs, the really heavy production, all these things showing that even if Metallica was gonna sell out they were still gonna write songs that were unique and intriguing. And if you love the Black Album, you think its a big balls hard rock masterpiece, then it's pretty easy to understand why you would think of AJFA as a minor blip between the undeniable perfection of Master of Puppets and the pretty deniable perfection of the Black Album.

Even an AJFA devotee like me has to address it's shortcomings. The production sucks so hard. Ride the Lightning and MOP were both so bombastic and AJFA is so fucking thin, and obviously the bass is just entirely not there. Would Justice have been a better album, the third perfect album in a row, if they had just put the goddamn bass on the record? Truly one of the most tragic and unanswerable questions, the most torturous "what if?" in metal history.

The songs are also long. This critique I really never understood, because to me "Metallica" has always been synonymous with "long songs with heavy riffs, fast riffs, and brilliant song structure". On Justice, I think it's just that every song more or less pushes 7 minutes that it's possible to get worn out. But honestly, what's the big fucking deal? The riffs on Justice are soul-crushing, depressive, and intense. They provide more than enough interesting material to keep each song afloat. This ain't no St. Anger. Even the deeper, arguably weaker cuts like Shortest Straw and Frayed Ends of Sanity have undeniable moods to them that remain dark and heavy even with no bass. I think what ultimately trips people up about the length of this record is that it's hard to listen to shitty thin production for over an hour. Thinness isn't some quality in an album production sound that someone can like or dislike--it's literally just something that takes a toll on your ears period. I can still think it sounds sick and depraved, but that can't change the fact that the physical act of hearing that annoying ass racket fucks with your brain a little. So really, as far as I can tell, the true sole problem of Justice is the production--something we all knew from the start.

Finally, the loss of Cliff Burton is a tragedy and of course fundamentally changed the trajectory of the band. I am not really prepared to speak on how he was the true brains behind the band, the best musician of the group by far, and all-around one of the most legendary and inspiring metal figures of all time. But his death is a necessary foreground for the birth of Justice, its basslessness, its *slightly* inferior songwriting to MOP and RTL, and the band's decision to sell the fuck out a few years later.

Now with all that out of the way, I want to judge Justice on its own merits, separate from its mammoth predecessors or tragic successors. Every song on Justice, except for maybe the two mentioned previously and To Live is to Die, are no-brainer competitors for being some of the best Metallica songs ever. This is especially true for Blackened and Harvester of Sorrow, the rightful fan favorites to this day. One of two main rippers, Blackened is a straight up perfect song with its breakneck speed, apocalyptic atmosphere, and one of Kirk's best solos as well all 3 verse/chorus riffs being some of James' best. Blackened also does something incredibly important, which is set the tone for the rest of the album to come. It's fast, it's heavy, it has a progressive feel without fundamentally changing the Metallica feel that was established in the two previous records, and its lyrics are grave and chaotic (see the next paragraph). I wanted to avoid talking about One, because there isn't anything that interesting to say about it, other than it's a legitimately amazing and definitive Metallica song. Double bass is cool. War is hell. The length of these songs, in my opinion, is truly an asset. As far as I'm concerned, by going from rightfully cocky and to-the-point on MOP to depraved, brooding, and musically violent (something that could only be said for a few previous songs, I'm thinking Damage Inc./Fight Fire with Fire/Metal Militia) on AJFA while keeping their solid intuition for song structures that really grab the listener, they more than justified the length of each individual song and of the album as a whole.

Watching James' lyrics shift across the first four Metallica albums is such a fascinating thing, and tracing that progression in its entirety unfortunately can't be done in this review. Conveniently however, the biggest lyrical change from album to album is from Master to Justice. MOP is about war, drugs, greed, and terror, same as AJFA, but the two records approach those topics in different ways. Compare One to Disposable Heroes--the strictly first-person story of a single soldier whose life was destroyed by war in the former, versus the more general (with both first- and third-person voices) portrayal of the carnage of war and of how soldiers are dehumanized on the latter. If MOP is defined by violence, then maybe AJFA is defined by agony and despair (see Dyers Eve, Blackened, Frayed, etc.). If James was just hypothesizing an intense first-person experience in Sanitarium, he is actually suffering and losing his mind on Harvester and Dyers Eve. Needless to say, his voice was still hard as nails and would be (live at least, because the Black Album crooning I really could do without) up until Load. The most commonly talked about lyrical difference is the political-ness of the title track (and Blackened if you care about the environment), and this is very valid too. The greed and corruption of the state on the song mirrors the callout of (tel)evangelism and that kind of shit on Leper Messiah. Also super notable is what's missing from the album: there's no Ktulu/witchcrafty stuff, no quasi-empowerment lyrics (Escape), and certainly no NWOBHM lyrical/musical worship. Justice means business, and that business means leaving the more juvenile Metallica motifs in the past. I could get into specifics, but this and so much more about the lyrical content is a huge reason why Justice is so bleak and dark and brutal in new and different ways.

I'm done. While I think it doesn't makes sense to argue that AJFA is Metallica's best album, simply because it doesn't have Cliff, it also doesn't make sense to call this album anything less than a 10/10 A+ just like the first three Met albums. It goes places and tries ideas that went unexplored by RTL and MOP. Can you believe how far they progressed from Kill 'Em All, in just 5 years? Considering the Black Album as more-or-less trash and worshipping this album along with the first 3 is an absolute no-brainer to me.

Mechanical, yet human, fury - 100%

Napalm_Satan, May 7th, 2019

I understand that a Metallica review today might be one of the more redundant exercises in writing about music, but hear me out. If there was a Metallica album that was in need of more reviewing, this is it. Not part of the much lauded holy trinity of thrash that preceded it or the string of sharply polarising and much derided works that followed, ...and Justice for All is neither famous (aside from 'One') nor infamous - it's simply there for most listeners, an odd diversion by the band that led to nothing. Which is a shame, as it's easily my favourite Metallica album. I firmly believe it to be one of the greatest metal albums ever conceived, and an incredibly unique one at that.

It's probably the most controversial and legendary aspect of the album, and to my mind the most important: the production. It really is as dry and sterile as everyone says - there is no warmth to the sound at all. Everything sounds very thin and trebly, and while there are bass frequencies to the sound there is indeed no bass guitar to be heard. I know for a lot of listeners that this is a major turn-off (though I've never had a problem with the way the album sounded, this may be because it was one of my first metal albums and as such the sound didn't strike me as especially odd, no stranger than the albums that came before it), however I can't imagine this album without it, and I highly doubt the album would benefit from a more normal sound. It's not an accessible or indeed objectively good production style at all; however it casts every single second of the songs in a new light, by stripping the instrumentation of any human touch they may have had. What would be a warm, reverby drum kit is now a stark, clicking yet thudding timekeeper that marches in the background, and the guitars turn into serrated, thin razors that grind away endlessly. And while it was terrible of the band to haze Newstead by turning him right down, I do believe the removal of the bass guitar only furthers the coldness of the sound - the album is better for it.

This harsher, colder backdrop fits perfectly with the vocal performance, which is another notable aspect of this album. Never before did James ever sound this angry, or bitter, or resentful. He easily delivers his harshest, heaviest and *best* vocal performance here, without question, and is given a rougher edge by the production. Paired with intelligent but still memorable and concise lyrics on environmental destruction, corruption in the justice system, wanton psychotic violence and the horrors of warfare, and you have the righteous anger of a man disillusioned of the world delivered over the most aggressive sounding riffs and drum beats Metallica would ever write. Slow burning, almost grooving tracks like 'Harvester of Sorrow' or 'Eye of the Beholder' become relentless crushers that flatten all in their path. Already supercharged barnstormers like 'Dyers Eve' or 'Blackened' become some of the most intense thrash ever written; the former in particular still floors me to this day with its rapid fire gun-like double bass and unbridled resentment.

It's not as if the instrumentation is merely a backdrop, either. More often than not it takes centre stage, and even peering behind the vocals reveals incredible performances all around. As has been mentioned, some of the band's most aggressive and destructive riffing comes through here ('Dyers Eve', 'The Shortest Straw'), and even during the more mid-paced moments the riffs still shine as being highly memorable, with the band working some monolithic grooves into their songs ('Harvester of Sorrow' or the descending riff of 'The Frayed Ends of Sanity'; a nice fit to the theme of the song) and lacing these slower moments with chugs, giving rise to a drudging heaviness not unlike doom metal. The same can be said of the drum performance; when Lars isn't functioning solely as a timekeeper several of the patterns and fills on here are quite technical, and on the whole Lars pounds away on the kit relentlessly, particularly with that distinct pattern on the title track or the incessant double bass of 'Dyers Eve'. The soloing is at its most technical too, it's not a major point when they occupy relatively short slots in these much longer songs but they do serve to give a little variation to the album, a brief respite from the endless onslaught of riffing.

A complaint this album often receives is the sheer repetition of the material, and a general sense of the album being too long for its own good. To my ears however, this is part of the reason for the album's potent atmosphere. The riffs repeat for relatively long stretches of time, as do the drums. In doing so, combined with the sound and atmosphere already present, they take on a very mechanical and almost... industrial feel to them. The likes of 'Eye of the Beholder' or 'To Live is to Die' really build on this with a principal chugging, groovy riff being repeated for most of the song. Instead of making the riffs or beats stale, the repetition adds to their power, by turning them into a principal reference point that guides each song to keep them on track. It keeps the songs direct and focused, even when they approach 10 minutes in length. It also adds to the coldness of the backdrop the lyrics are set against; there is no natural variation to be found, only unyielding repetition of guitars and drums grinding against one another.

The feel of this album is unlike one I've ever encountered. At times sorrowful and touching (the halfway point of 'To Live is to Die' or the first half of 'One'), and at times driven purely by rage - many thrash albums can do both, but none make it quite as visceral as this. That in and of itself is quite an achievement, given what they're working with; they've turned one of the most mechanical sounding albums into one that conveys human emotion better than so many others. They made a focused, energetic album with a handful of riffs when some bands don't manage that with 246. This is without question one of the greatest metal albums, and one that has aged so gracefully as to be more effective now than it was 30 years ago - perhaps due to general resentment towards the world increasing since then, but also because nothing since has come close to achieving what it has, a fact that rings more and more true with each passing day. A forgotten experiment this may have been - but certainly not a fruitless one.

The last Metallica album - 92%

EzraBlumenfeld, January 9th, 2019

Right as metal (and thrash metal in particular) was about to begin its steady and still continuous decline, Metallica released what is arguably their most advanced and most well-written album of all time: 1988's ...and Justice for All, a vicious heap of near-progressive thrash that would permanently change the world of extreme music. Not only were they one of the very first post-1970s metal bands to show a legitimate stylistic shift, but the commercially successful "One" was a major point of entry, so to speak, for many young future metalheads. Not only does Justice present the most proficient instrumental performances of the three band members left after Cliff Burton's death, it also confronts real-world issues in its lyrics; even if they aren't exactly the most insightful, it shows that Metallica was aware of things outside of their trivial themes from earlier albums.

The amount of thought put into each song here is unparalleled by their other albums; each song is a delicate composition with dozens of intricacies in the form of attention to minor detail, such as variations and transitions. The result is an album that could just be Metallica's very best, a combination of typical thrash aggression with thoughtful songwriting. The preceding three albums have more of a fun feel, just like many of the earlier gimmicky records that frequented the discographies of pioneering thrash bands; Justice feels much more serious.

The lyrics address a political theme previously unexplored by Hetfield's lyrics, although they seem rather nondescript and don't exactly take a stance on anything; rather, they just describe rather cliche situations of corruption. In "Dyers Eve" and "The Frayed Ends of Sanity," Hetfield once again tackles the subjects of mental illness and child abuse, which had already been covered on previous albums yet may be ever so slightly more insightful and authentic here.

Instrumentally, this is easily Metallica's finest hour. Lars Ulrich, who infamously descended into mediocrity on the band's eponymous album three years later, somehow managed to give his best drum performance of all time throughout the album consistently. Lead guitarist and wah-pedal aficionado Kirk Hammett also lays off his blues scales for once and instead peppers his solos with divebombs and exotic scale runs that fit the music much better than the repetitive garbage he was accustomed to before. James Hetfield's rhythm tracks are tighter than ever. Newcomer bassist Jason Newsted notoriously is not to be heard anywhere on the record, but it isn't noticed until it's pointed out.

...and Justice for All is Metallica's strongest and most inconsistent album by far, and that's not a record I expect them to beat anytime soon. Not only is it intense, but it reaches emotional moments (as throughout the quiet parts of "One") and even a couple of heart-wrenching ones, particularly the acoustic interlude halfway through the ten-minute instrumental "To Live Is to Die," which was dedicated to late bassist Cliff Burton. With its outstanding song quality and complexity, Justice will surely be remembered for the duration of metal's reign as an absolute true classic.

An identity crisis for Metallica - 51%

Oss1, November 28th, 2018

The problem with this record is that it has an identity crisis. It doesn’t know whether it wants to be hard rock like the S/T or melodic thrash metal like Master of Puppets. On the surface, it seems like a thrash metal record. There are cool thrash metal riffs in nearly every song and Hetfield's palm mute technique is of course top-notch. The problem here is that the cool riffs are always accompanied by generic, chugging verse-riffs, that don’t do anything for the songs. These seem to be just an excuse for Hetfield to shout his lyrics, which have also changed from metal style to protest-rock. The whole album is actually dominated by Hetfield’s vocals while the guitars just play along in the background. Some riffs are headbanging, but the constant vocal shout doesn’t give them enough room to operate. The riffs slowly mutate into eachother and become just tapestry in the constant presence of Hetfield’s shouting.

The record is mainly in mid-tempo with a few faster tracks thrown in to the mix, an idea which I like. Slayer succesfully dropped their tempo on South of Heaven and still maintained a very dark athmosphere. ...and Justice for All unfortunately doesn't succeed in maintaining anything on this record. The only constant on the album are the vocals and that shouldn't be the case on a metal album. The feeling your left with after listening to the record is that there was a very loud vocalist shouting over some mid-tempo, chugging riffs, which didn't differ from each other too much.

The best songs on the album are the ones that don’t try too hard to be metal, like ”One” and ”Harvester of Sorrow”. Harvester of Sorrow is a groovy, post-thrash anthem that flows very well compared to the other songs. ”One” slowly transforms from a rock ballad to a full-blown metal song in good coherence. The other songs just meander without meaning between some semi-cool thrash metal riffs and James screaming over the instruments. Lars' performance is also all over the place, when on the earlier albums he was very tight and on bar with the rest of the band.

The choruses are anthemic in a hard rock style, but they don't really belong here, in a thrash metal record. The big interludes are the one thing that really sounds metal, but they are out of place after 3-4 mins of hard rock riffing. The solos on the album are just without any idea. Metallica also tries to dress some generic chugging riffs up with weird time signatures, a style that could impress a newcomer, but definetely not a heavy metal veteran.

This album gave birth to a new generation of thrash metal bands like Pantera, Meshuggah and Machine Head, which had a larger appeal with their faux-aggression and rock attitude. ...and Justice for All was not a disaster as an album, but on the scale of Metallica, it marked a start of a slow decline from an excellent thrash metal group to a hard rock, heavy metal-lite one.

Exploiting their SUPREMACY - 100%

Xyrth, August 30th, 2018

After the devastating loss of Cliff Burton, Metallica's bass guitarist auditioning ended with the young and hopeful Flotsam and Jetsam leader, Jason Newsted, becoming the fourth horseman. Little did he know of the abuse his bandmates would subject him to, kick starting the bittersweet story of a talented musician that never got the appreciation he deserved, except that one coming from the band's fanbase, who were much warmer towards him than his bandmates. But after the 1986 tragic accident, James, Kirk and Lars were pissed off, spiteful and saddened, and all that emotional discharge no only affected their new bandmate, but was also manifested on their fourth LP. Despite its obvious complex arrangements and long, winding compositions, something that usually ends up being overlooked is that …and Justice for All is Metallica's darker album, its serious and poignant themes developed as a consequence of malcontent and trauma.

Justice… a word that should have a stronger meaning in our lives. Unfortunately, corruption is a common human component, and even in the leading First World countries, it shows its ugly face more often than one would like to admit. In Metallica's US of A, it's no different of course, proved by so many popular culture examples from that country about cases of injustice that should shock us, but instead are every day's meal. …and Justice for All contemplates and pinpoints this reality, especially in its towering nine-minute title-track, along with “Eye of the Beholder”, which also deals with censorship, and “Shortest Straw”, depicting the search for a scapegoat in staged judicial process. Other tracks focus on a more general degradation of the human morale, like the apocalyptic opener “Blackened”, or its pysche, like “The Frayed End of Sanity”. And the two shorter pieces, “Harvester of Sorrow” and “Dyers Eve” show more personal but equally mordant themes. As for the iconic “One”, it's simply one of the greatest war-themed rock songs of all time, with an epic video to match its musical scope.

James sounds at his angriest ever, with more mature lyrics spitted forth with vile and conviction. In their preceding three works, when nefarious epic themes like the Horsemen of Apocalypse, the Plagues of Egypt or Lovecraftian horrors were touched upon, it sounded cool and fun, but the down to earth social themes of …and Justice for All feel way grimmer and real. His rhythmic riff-work is almost unparalleled, powerful, memorable and downright pulverizing, as witnessed during the final crushing moments of “One” or most part of the proto-groove metal “Harvester of Sorrow”. On his part, a pre-wah-wah obsessed Kirk shows his dexterity in the soloing department, and while he's never been that impressive in comparison to the top metal lead guitarists (like Tipton or Mustaine), he compensated with great vibe and a great sense of harmony. As for Lars, he also shows his greater chops ever here, his solid and precise upper playing enhanced with some bewildering footwork going on all the time, flashy polyrhythms and machine-gun bursts of double bass.

The perceived 'flawed' production values and the absence of bass guitar are well-documented …and Justice for All characteristics, often criticized, both from a musical and a professional point of view. But if one checks out the …and Justice for Jason version of the album in YouTube or other bass-enhanced underground mixes out there, one realizes that James' assertion that the bass mostly follows the guitar lines is actually true. Jason sadly wasn't given much room to provide input, so leaving him outside completely doesn't really hurt the record's sound. And after tenths of spins, it's quite impossible for me to imagine this with a different production, because for all its shortcomings, designed or unintentional, it does have a sound of its own. The dry drumming sound, with its clear and clicking kick drums, actually became influential for many bands that tried to replicate that aesthetic in the 90s and beyond. I'm still curious how Metallica's official remaster will sound like, but the original flavor of …and Justice for All is fucking flawless to my ears.

In its massive 65 minutes, there's plenty to digest both thematically and musically. The band were extremely motivated to put up an even stronger, more complex album than Cliff's swansong, Master of Puppets, and to a degree, they succeeded, adding their visionary work to the class of '88, a year that saw many thrash metal bands reaching their most technical, progressive and ambitious heights yet, like Voivod, Deathrow and Coroner, as well as the advent of quality and similarly styled newcomers like Anacrusis, Blind Illusion, Realm or Pestilence (before they turned their attention to death metal 100%). The band's tribute to his fallen brother, “To Live Is to Die”, shows their instrumental gusto at its best, with some mellow and melancholic guitar lines that really touch the soul. The use of acoustic guitars is excellent as well, complementing the hard-hitting side of the band with a lightened side. This classy chiaroscuro approach also featured on “One” gives the record a more emotional impact, setting it apart from other tech thrash releases.

It's very easy to dismiss and criticize and album of this magnitude and musical ambition, given the stellar status of its creators, even back then, when they were still ascending through the upper echelons of metaldom and before their complete transformation into clichéd rock stars. But people tend to forget that Metallica were just a bunch of young musicians who had lived hell as a band, and after that fucked up turmoil they managed to come up strong and channel all that negativity into one of the undisputed highlights of 1988, and all-time thrash and technical metal masterpiece. Like everything Metallica did in the 80s, …and Justice for All's influence and impact was and remains huge, and no matter how many subpar releases or polemic choices they make nowadays, nothing will ever erase this fact.

Unpopular opinion time #2 - 82%

TrooperEd, May 20th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1988, CD, Elektra Records

I like this album more than Master of Puppets. Also, I always thought the production was perfectly fine. What's that? What's the punchline? Oh, that wasn't a joke. If you're disappointed I hear James Corden is in your town soon.

A peek into my adolescence: after I discovered iTunes (or more specifically I discovered megahertz decibel settings), more often than not I would listen to music with the preamp turned all the way up, as it would give it a massive bass boost without actually turning up the bass. Nine times out of ten this made the listening experience rule extra hard, but I never could crank the pre-amp with this one. The reason being that the bass frequencies were absurdly loud. Hell, the first time I listened to this album without looking up Metallica's history, I'd just assumed Justice was an example of the bass being really loud in the mix. So I would always take the rumors of there being no bass in this mix as a prank on me, rather than a hazing on Jason. Plus I've come to notice through a combination of my own listening experience and the excellent "Metal with and without Bass" series on youtube," when there isn't any actual bass being played. It's very subtle but if your brain registers it you'll feel there's something not quite wrong with the song. But when the bass starts being played your brain will register and the song will have properly "kicked in." If you talk to Jason himself about it these days he'll rationalize it by saying his bass playing skill wasn't a tenth of James Hetfield's rhyhtm guitar playing skill (let's be real, it wasn't then and it wasn't now).

So, I never noticed any missing bass on this album. I also never found any issue with the album's guitar sound, the supposed clicky (or squeaky) bass drum of Lars. Never had a problem with this album's production. I never thought it was a pristine example of production, but I can think of supposed albums with "atmospheric" production that fail miserably and this supposed maligned album would be an improvement. With the exception of a noticeably maturity in Hetfield's singing, And Justice For All sounds like business as usual.

Musically, I think Justice is a great record as well. It's earned its reputation as a genuine thrash record over these 30 plus years. A few of Hetfield's most beloved downstroke disasters frequent this record. Hell, there's even a nod to the New York/Kreator style thrash break in opener Blackened! The music gets less shit than the production, but to some fans this album is a reason the band died with Cliff. Ironically, tragic as his loss was, time has proven that the band didn't need Cliff. The fact that some nobody from second tier thrash band got the job ought to show that as talented as Cliff was, he wasn't Steve Digorigio, Steve Harris or Les Claypool caliber on the bass. Plus the so called "progressive" songs here, if you ask me to choose between these and their counterparts on Puppets, I'll likely pick the ones here. One over Sanitarium, Shortest Straw over Disposable Heroes, Blackened over Battery, and even To Live Is To Die over Orion. I don't know, maybe because I've developed a taste for doom/death recently, I've found that instrumental to scratch an emotional itch that Orion never could. Yes, I'm aware Cliff helped with this song as well, but his input seemed to be less involved, and I think it was a benefit.

The highlights of this album include the title track (an epic which I never thought was too long, and no I don't think it's a better song than Master of Puppets); The Shortest Straw, Blackened and Dyers Eve. Three of the nastiest ragers James came up with since Fight Fire With Fire (not silly acoustic intros either). That isn't necessarily a criticism of the slower songs either; I'm apparently the only person on earth who thinks Harvester of Sorrow is a good song and a damn fine live staple. I'm also apparently the only person who thinks The Frayed Ends of Sanity isn't the holy grail of Metallica's catalogue. Good tune, but overlong and who let the druids of Stonehenge into the booth?

I wouldn't necessarily run out and grab this. Maybe wait a while after you've owned the first two (and a few other thrash staples) for a year or so. But don't be so quick to write it off just because you want to appear in some sort of fan-tier list either.

Stepping Down Slightly - 87%

psychoticnicholai, January 8th, 2018

I guess it seems only natural that Metallica would want to progress and make their songs more involved, as that worked for them extremely well on Master of Puppets, but there were quite a few factors that kept Justice away from being truly exceptional. That's not to say it's bad, it's just one step forward, two steps back for Metallica. The songs are bigger, more involved, and more complex than before, but they aren't as sleek and focused as the ones on Master of Puppets and lack a bit in memorability. You see, Metallica was looking to progressive rock as an inspiration and wanted this to be a big deal with big songs and set their ambitions a bit too high. There's also the issue of bassist Cliff Burton's death, finding a replacement in Jason Newsted, and then proceeding to treat him like a wet sock and throw out his bass contributions in the final mix of the album. In spite of all this, the album still works and delivers some decent heavy songs, it's just that it pales in comparison to its predecessor.

I figure I should talk about the good in this album first. The ambition on Justice results in some songs that make good use of their extended lengths. The first one to come to mind in that regard is the harrowing "One" which makes the most of its slow, moody build, and jarring, marching release of heavy, speedy guitar riffs. The album still maintains an air of menace with a very stern guitar sound and ominous clean notes that serve atmospheric progression and an air of tension very well. The riffs throughout the album still manage to get heads banging and things still move at a swift sprint. Sometimes the tempo is more stomping than fully thrashy, but that does produce a pretty good number of tightly-coiled rhythms that blend well with the normal darkness of Metallica's signature sound like the stalking trudging of "Harvester of Sorrow" or the evil march that leads into "The Frayed Ends of Sanity" which also features some manic lyrics and really mosh-oriented guitars that don't lose the shroud of darkness. I find that Justice has a lot to offer and a lot of it is still pretty damn fulfilling and keeps mostly faithful to the sound that made Metallica excellent.

Concluding that, I should also mention where this falls short, which is a bit hard considering it's still ahead of most of what's out there, but it is a noticeable fall from Master of Puppets. The most noticeable and most damning of them all us the absolute lack of Jason Newsted's bass in the mix which takes out a lot of the punch and leaves the production thin. It gets especially damning when you hear how great everybody else sounds. The instruments that are there come in nice and clear and Hetfield delivers a very impassioned performance with his fearsome lyrics and singing, but because Lars wanted his drumming front and center, he got the mixer to minimize the bass as much as possible. Seriously, fuck you Lars. If Cliff Burton had lived to 1988 and you tried that with him around, I'm certain he'd have beaten you stupid. There's also a problem with some songs being too overblown and stretched out for their own good. Some songs could have been cut down in length or changed up more to have better effect. Instead it just ends up being decent, but not especially notable compared to other Metallica songs. Some like "To Live is to Die" are really overindulgent and would benefit from being more concise. More big, iconic riffs would also be welcome, even though there are already quite a few, I'd like it if what was here jumped out more prominently and completely. These flaws are far from deal-breakers, but they do have an effect on how I view Justice relative to other early Metallica.

Still, this album does come down pretty gracefully from the heights of Master of Puppets. The transition to a slightly more progressive sound feels natural and the music still has a strong aggressive spirit to it. Where good riffs arise, they hit fast and fierce and once "One" comes and goes, the memorability comes back and makes for some songs that you can remember and return to. It really is the biggest "grower" in Metallica's discography in that you appreciate this album the more you listen to it since it's so ambitious, maybe overly so, but not so overly so that it becomes a chore. It's still a commendable effort and it's flaws don't change the fact that it's composed well, and a damn solid collection of thrashers that have all the sway of skyscrapers in an earthquake. Every song tries hard and they do a decent job of expanding a bit on the sounds of Master of Puppets. However, a little kick in the ass to get things moving more quickly would've helped, and some bass too. With that being said, I still find this album perfectly enjoyable and it fits well into the classic Metallica canon.

A Prog Thrash Masterpiece - 100%

shantivj, July 31st, 2017

Following the passing of their longtime bassist, Cliff Burton, and the trilogy of thrash masterpieces that he was featured on, many were skeptical as to whether Metallica could emerge from that tumultuous time to top or even match their already legendary discography. Alongside their new bassist, Jason Newsted of Flotsam and Jetsam, Metallica silenced these fears with a masterpiece of an album entitled "...And Justice For All", that, instead of mimicking the styles of their previous works, takes on its own, extremely unique identity. The songs are longer, the riffs are more technical and the composition is more intricate, leading to the album being commonly labelled "progressive thrash metal". This album certainly takes more getting used to than their previous offerings, but that only makes it all the more rewarding on repeated listens, as it allows the listener to decipher the winding song structures and bleak lyrical themes.

The standout performance on this album undoubtedly comes from the dual guitars of James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett; Hetfield's riffs are razor sharp and precise, while Hammett's leads are chaotic and technical. Furthermore, many of the songs on this album include sections in which the guitars harmonize beautifully to give the songs a more dynamic feel. The album opener, "Blackened," which is also one of the album's best tracks, provides a perfect example of the stellar guitar work. A backwards guitar intro builds into a ferocious main riff; one of the best riffs of the band's entire career. Halfway through the song, the guitars harmonize before Hammett rips into a fast, vicious and technically impressive solo. The sound of the guitars throughout the album is extremely thick, making this Metallica's most dark and crushingly heavy sounding album.

Despite all the criticism he receives, Lars Ulrich lays down a solid drum performance throughout the album. While his technical prowess can't compete with the guitar work of Hetfield and Hammett, he supports them with a steady performance, and even has a fair few moments in which he exhibits technicality, such as the lightning fast thrasher, "Dyer's Eve".

Vocally and lyrically, this is one of Hetfield's best performances ever; his voice is far more gruff and hostile than on previous albums, which once again contributes to the darker feel and theme of this album. Every lyrics sounds as if it is yelled with anger and hatred, giving the album an almost cathartic feel. Lyrically, the dark, serious themes support the vocal delivery. This is perhaps Hetfield's best lyrical performance, and while his lyrics on other albums fall flat (looking at you, St. Anger), they undoubtedly succeed here. Both the title track as well as the aforementioned "Dyer's Eve" exhibit Hetfield's angry lyrics and spiteful delivery in full flight.

The aspect of this album that is most often criticized is its production; namely, the lack of bass guitar. While the bass guitar is definitely buried in the mix to a point where it is barely decipherable, this doesn't hurt the album at all. In fact, it gives the album an incredibly dry, bleak sound which fits the dark lyrical themes of the album, thus enhancing the overall experience. Sure, the lack of bass initially gives the impression of a less dynamic album and makes it harder to listen to, but upon repeated listens, the sterile sound it creates only serves to build atmosphere and complement the anger that is presented in the lyrics.

This album rewards the listener who keeps coming back. While "Master of Puppets" and "Ride the Lightning" seem to be far more dynamic records on the first listen, "...And Justice For All" exhibits the bands most creative songwriting and riffs, and, in my opinion, upon repeated listens, surpasses the majesty of the aforementioned releases. A true thrash masterpiece; the last the band would ever create.

Standout Tracks: "Blackened", "...And Justice for All", "One", "Harvester of Sorrow", "Dyer's Eve"

An album so good, it didn't need bass... - 100%

BlackMetal213, August 17th, 2016

It is well-known in the world of music that Metallica was going through a lot of turmoil and emotional pain during the making of their fourth full-length album "...And Justice For All" from 1988. Longtime bassist and good friend Cliff Burton had died in a tragic bus accident back in the fall of 1986 and was replaced by Jason Newsted of Flotsam and Jetsam fame only one month later. Jason proved to be an amazing bass player and a worthy replacement for the legend himself. Unfortunately, Metallica grieved a lot about Cliff through Jason. This resulted in widely-known, heavy hazing from the other three band members. This would even affect the production of this album but I will get into that later. Even though this album has one big flaw, it is just so musically perfect and intricate that really, you don't need the bass!

The album opens with one of the band's most well-known songs, "Blackened". After the beautiful intro, this song takes a complete 180 into an absolute beast. This is one of the album's thrashiest songs. Musically, this is still a thrash metal album, but borrows a lot from progressive metal, giving it the deserved label of "progressive thrash metal". This song has some of the faster riffs AJFA has to offer and one of the coolest solos as well. Is it the album's best track, however? No, not by a bit. The title track is next and, just barely, in my opinion, is the album's best cut. It's far less of a thrash metal song and more of a progressive one. After the clean intro, we are introduced to some proggy riffs and melodic segments. The solo manages to top "Blackened" as well. The guitars are obviously the focal point of this album, as usual, but with the lack of any and all bass, they're even more prominent. Honestly, as an aspiring bass player, it does upset me slightly James and Lars (seriously, fuck Lars) decided to mute the instrument. It's just so good otherwise, I decide to look the other way in this rare case. This is the album's second longest song, about 15 seconds shy of 10 minutes. Thankfully, a lot happens and we don't get tired of it. Well, I don't, anyway.

This album is mainly so popular among Metallica fans due to the track "One". A song that got its own music video, and deals with the tragic theme of a soldier that stepped on a landmine and lost his eyes, arms, legs, ears, and mouth, but remained alive, "One" is truly a moving song. The verses are melodic, led by clean guitar passages. The chorus is a bit harder but the heavy moment doesn't happen until the machine gun riff/double bass drum pattern comes in. Aside from this, what we have here again is more progressive than thrash. There are songs that really blend prog and thrash about half and half quite well, like "The Frayed Ends of Sanity" and "Harvester of Sorrow". Aside from "Blackened", the other two songs that are nearly pure thrash would be "The Shortest Straw" and the absolutely frantic "Dyers Eve". In terms of length, these songs range from a bit over 5 minutes, the shortest being "Dyers Eve", and about 10 seconds shy of 10 minutes, being the instrumental "To Live Is to Die". This instrumental passage can be seen as Cliff's final moment of musical creativity, as he was involved with this song's writing progress. This almost matches the title track in terms of musical perfection, with its absolutely gorgeous riffs and interesting tempo changes. The melody that begins about 4 and a half minutes into the song, and 30 seconds later turns into a magnificent clean riff, is one of the best things Metallica has ever written. There are even what sounds like some synth-strings thrown in here, and wow, that solo!

James, in my opinion, offered his best vocal performance ever on this album. His voice sounded more mature on this release than on the previous three, dropping a bit of the adolescent rage, yet still sounding quite aggressive in comparison to the style he would adopt on the album following this one. I've always liked his performance on here the best. Plus, given the emotional turmoil he must have been feeling, this makes the sound of his vocals only that much more justifiable. I recently heard a demo of "Holier than Thou" from the band's 1991 album that would come out after this, and he was still using this AJFA-era style of vocals. I often wish he would have stuck with this style but in a way, I guess it wouldn't fit the band's 1990s heavy/groove metal/rock style.

So, as I mentioned at the beginning, this album completely omits the bass. Absolutely fucking omits it. I really wish they would have let Jason be heard here because he really was the band's second best bassist, and really, was very close to Cliff stylistically. Well, aside from using the pick instead of fingers. But, I digress. Apparently, the bass tracks followed too closely to the riff patterns produced by Hetfield and Hammett, and this would create some type of "musical war", resulting in the instruments fighting to be heard. Lars also wanted his drums to be louder, so, there's that. Really, this is one of the best performances from Lars, but come on, you did not need to sacrifice the bass, especially because the drums actually suffered from being this loud. That "click" sound can be a bit too much at times. Also, as we all know, this was just another way the band hazed Jason. It's no wonder that he left but I'm shocked he managed to put up with the band's shit until 2001. 15 years! Thankfully, as I said, this doesn't manage to degrade the sheer musical brilliance of the album. Seriously, though, fuck Lars.

So, with really the negation of the bass and the volume of the drums being my only real gripe about this album, it manages to be musically perfect to my ears. Only barely beating out "Ride the Lightning", it manages to be my favorite Metallica album. Truly a testament to thrash metal and the way music as a whole can be created.

Controlling their destiny. - 89%

Face_your_fear_79, March 11th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, Elektra Records (Remastered)

Metallica must have been under a lot of pressure at this point in time. They had just released their 1986 album Master of Puppets album, which went gold without any airplay at all, and was considered one of the best thrash albums of all time, not to mention metal in general. Needless to say, they had a lot to follow up. So, what did they decide to do? Go bigger and better and this is just what they did. The problem with this, though, is that they went too big.

See, the track times are probably the biggest problem with this record. The shortest track time is over five minutes, and there are two tracks knocking on the door of ten minutes. I don't have a problem with long track times, so long as they make an attempt to keep the listener interested. Take, for example, Iron Maiden's Paschendale or Dance of Death which clocked in at over eight minutes, but are littered with tempo changes, interesting bridges, and all kinds of little nuggets to keep the two songs from being a chore to listen to. Such is not the case for a lot of songs on AJFA. They tend to be repetitive, and have simple song structures: (verse 1, chorus, verse 2, chorus, solo/instrumental section, verse 3, chorus). The biggest culprit for this is the title track, which runs for 9:46. It starts off with an acoustic intro, which is likely the most interesting thing the track has to offer as far as variation goes. After that, the heavy riffs come in. Don't get me wrong; this is a great song with a great intro and verses and chorus, but it starts losing me during the instrumental section after the solo and it goes through another verse, chorus, and outro before it ends. The members of Metallica have acknowledged this themselves.

Other songs have similar repetition such as The Shortest Straw and The Frayed Ends of Sanity. The former is saved by it's relentless pace and blistering solo. The latter is OK, but it never really did much for me besides a memorable tribute to The Wizard of Oz in the intro. It is the only track I can do without. To Live is to Die is beautiful, great solo and spoken word parts but my least favorite Metallica epic instrumental, because it is too long, and honestly doesn't seems like it has a direction.

Well, now that we got rid of the negativity out of the way, let's focus on the good, of which there is a lot. The guitarists Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield are in top form delivering excellent riffs and solos at each turn, including the famous guitar solos in Blackened and One. James Hetfield's voice is angrier than ever, and has developed and deepened substantially since their earlier albums. Even Lars Ulrich, usually considered Metallica's poster boy for his below average performances in recent years, was excellent on the drums, particularly on the track Dyer's Eve, which is a template for what drummers should strive for. Sadly, the bassist Jason Newsted is invisible in the album, which is another criticism for the album, as well as the dry production.

Similar to Metallica's previous albums, there is a central theme that winds its way through the album. For Master of Puppets, it was control; for Ride the Lightning, it was death; and for Kill Em' All, it was METAHL RAWKS! For this album, the band matures a little and discusses their views on politics. Topics include the Apocalypse, greed, limitations on freedom of speech, war, and blacklisting. Harvester of Sorrow and Frayed Ends of Sanity deal with mental illness; a more traditional theme for Metallica. The final two songs are much more personal. To Live is to Die is a ten-minute-long semi-ballad semi-instrumental with only a few spoken-word lines dedicated to their bassist Cliff Burton, who was tragically killed in a bus crash. The final track, Dyer's Eve, is a fuck you to Hetfield's parents for sheltering him as a child. The lyrics are very well done.

Without a doubt, One is the best song on the album, the best song by Metallica, and one of the best songs ever written. The song tells the heartbreaking tale of a soldier who lost his limbs and senses in an explosion and is forced to spend the rest of his life trapped in his immobile body in a hospital bed. The song starts out slow and ballad-like, like previous track fours Fade to Black and Welcome Home. After time, the song grows in heaviness, and after the vocals cut out, the song really takes off, showcasing that famous machine gun riff and face-melting solo. It's incredible from start to finish.

Other standouts include the opener, Blackened, which is speedy and heavy all the way through, featuring an excellent intro, solo, riff, bridge, chorus, etc. Harvester of Sorrow is the darkest song ever put out by the band. You gotta love the clean intro to this one. Eye of the Beholder, which is often considered filler, is another winner, mostly for the main riff and vocal melodies. Dyer's Eve is one of the fastest, heaviest Metallica songs out there, with standout drumming.

So, there you have it. Yes the flaws are formidable, but that should not stop you from picking this up. A must have for any thrash-metal fan.

The visionary prototype is better than the genre - 96%

kluseba, May 24th, 2014

„…And Justice For All“ is my favourite Metallica record along with the thrash metal milestone „Ride The Lightning“ and the controversial, desperate and pitiless “St. Anger”. The song writing, innovation and intensity are different from the other two releases but as impressive in my humble opinion. Obviously, this record also has a strong disadvantage many people have already pointed out: the production. The sound is too clinical and the bass guitar is nearly inaudible. Yes, this approach gives the band sound a completely new style, it makes the final result unique and fits to the sinister lyrics. On the other side, a more natural sound would have added given more power instead which I would have preferred over the constantly angry atmosphere it incarnates. This is one of the rare cases where I would support a completely re-mastered version of the original. Otherwise, one may enjoy many songs on several outstanding live records and I would give the band the advice to play the full album in concert and release it as a double-disc version for their fans so that everyone can finally perfectly enjoy the material. Personally, this irritating production issue doesn’t bother me enough though to ignore the nine excellent songs on this release.

Metallica went away from the straight sound of the two first albums and also from the more melodic side of the predecessor. The band offers instead more challenging and slightly progressive song writing with technically improved musicianship, extended instrumental parts and many powerful breakdowns with two songs nearly hitting the ten minute mark. The vocals are maybe more emotional and still technically appealing than ever, the drum sound is drier than usual, the riffs may sound repetitive but are always effective and I especially like the few colourful melodic guitar solos that lighten up rather dark songs as “The Shortest Straw” for example.

At the same time, the stronger use of mid-tempo riffs and more versatile vocals that vary from calm clean passages over angry and slightly uncontrolled screams to a few vocal effects makes this record an often ignored prototype of the controversial groove metal genre that would become popular a few years after with releases by Exhorder, Fear Factory, Machine Head, Pantera, Prong and Sepultura. A good example for the use of more modern mid-tempo riffs and vocal effects is portrayed in “Eye Of The Beholder” while the fusion of a calm half ballad approach that slowly shifts towards a more destructive sound with angrily shouted vocals can best be heard in the lyrically intriguing “One” which is maybe the best and probably the most atmospheric song Metallica ever wrote. The quasi-instrumental “To Live Is To Die” hits a similar vein and has a great and coherent progression which makes this track one of my favourite instrumental songs ever. The menacing guitar sound, the tight and precise drum play and the pissed-off vocals in the first single “Harvester Of Sorrow” also perfectly represent the style of this record.

It’s somehow ironical that this uncompromising record that is a lot less approachable than the first three outputs in my opinion would hit the charts and pave the path to worldwide commercial success for the band. Those who seriously claim that Metallica would flirt with mainstream on this album must be deaf as the opposite is the case. After the tragic death of their bass player Cliff Burton the band simply had to release this desperate sixty-five minutes of music as much as the liberating “St. Anger” fifteen years later after years of internal disputes and growing pressure. This band seems to work best when put under pressure. I must admit that this album has a very own and special mood which makes this release so controversial. Sometimes I enjoy this record a little bit less but when I’m in the right mood I definitely dig it and am close to consider it as the best output the band may have released. This record is not for everyone. Old school thrash metal fans might only like the powerful opener “Blackened”, the vivid “The Frayed Eyes Of Sanity” and the fast closer “Dyers Eve” which consistently grew on me. Fans of the later and more commercial years will appreciate “One” as well as “Harvester Of Sorrow” but could fail to make it through the even longer songs on this release. In my opinion, this release is though one of Metallica’s most emotional, groundbreaking and technically stunning albums for those who like both Metallica’s early and later days. In the end, this groove metal prototype is better than anything the real genre would ever manage to release.

Polarising opinions, 1988-? - 89%

SoundsofDecay, December 28th, 2013

Where do you begin with this? Its a subject that has been covered over and over again, time after time for over 20 years now. The fact remains that "Justice" is a strongly polarizing album, one of the most polarizing in all of metal. Many people outright dislike it because of the production. I've always been able to ignore that aspect, and even grow to like it. The same is true of the songs themselves. One side of the fence proclaims it to be their most technically accomplished moment, the other side's opinion being that a lot of it goes on for far longer than it needs to. I can relate to both viewpoints, however this has most likely always been my favourite Metallica album.

Obviously, we all know about the circumstances that led the way to this album being the way it is. Cliff Burton's untimely death in late 1986 dealt a crippling blow to Metallica, stopping their original creative train dead in its tracks, and really they never quite recovered from it. It would seem that the tragedy of his death fueled this album, because they are PISSED here. James' vocals were never so angry sounding, and to achieve the desired aggressiveness the drums had to be recorded in sections to maintain consistency, as Lars was apparently hitting them so hard. The lyrics are the darkest yet. They had covered such things as abuse of power and corruption before, but on this album that's the overriding theme. Injustice, discrimination and environmental themes are also heavily touched upon. Naturally a replacement for Burton had to be found, and Jason Newsted was recruited from thrashers Flotsam and Jetsam. He was given a trial run (not to mention some volume) on the 1987 "Garage Days" covers EP where he cut his teeth finely and proved he was just as good a bassist (if not as wildly creative, then arguably tighter as a musician) as Burton was.

Now, this issue of the production. The album has a very strange (for the time, techniques used on this record would later become commonplace in extreme metal), very scooped sound where the guitars are largely all bass and treble, with not very much mids at all. The bass guitar track was reduced in volume considerably, and subsequently swallowed up by the scooped guitars. The drums are much drier than any of their previous albums, as is the overall mix. The sound is quite a shock the first time you hear it, especially coming to it from the much fuller sounding previous albums. However, despite the hailstorm of production complaints that regularly gets thrown at this album, I've always found it suits the feel of the music. Even the unfortunate lack of bass (and it really is unfortunate, having heard the original bass tracks made louder I can tell you they're very good and its a damn shame the guy was buried so much) adds to the feel of it. The second of the main criticisms of "Justice" is the songwriting. The grinding, repetitive nature of some of the songs (most notably the 11 minute title track) can be a turn off to some listeners. Personally I don't have a problem with it, though after the amount of times I've heard the album I admit I do have to be in the mood for some of it. Many of this album's tracks regularly find their way into Metallica fan's (including mine) favourite songs, Harvester of Sorrow, the relentless Blackened, and of course One - a song that broke new ground for the band with its brilliantly executed video, and despite how overplayed it is the fact remains that its a stone cold classic, and one of the album's highlights. Other favourites of mine include the steady, mechanical grinding of Eye of the Beholder, and the more adventurous and lengthy compositions like the title track and Frayed Ends of Sanity which show Metallica fully embracing the progressive tendencies that "Puppets" had hinted at. Then of course, the only instrumental of theirs that gives Orion a good run for its money in my mind.

This was Metallica's last go at what could be called "real" thrash - we all know what happened next. Despite its perceived faults, the success of "Justice" paved the way for them to fully conquer the world 2 years later with the massive selling self titled album. Despite the fact that the Black album toned down the apparent excess of "Justice" resulting in shorter, more concise and more successful songs - it isn't half as creative or adventurous as this album. Listen to this to hear their creative peak.

Listen closely... - 85%

Ibanezmancons, June 10th, 2013

If Master of Puppets is the media's favourite Metallica album, ...And Justice For All seems to sit in the shadows most of the time for only the most hardcore fans to proclaim the best. This is because ...And Justice... suffers from the one of the biggest issues of all: the production.

Musically, it is a solid prog-thrasher where the average run time per song is 7.52 minutes over nine songs. That's pretty long. Death Magnetic is the only Metallica album close with 7:48 minutes over ten songs. Excessive length can sometimes be Metallica's biggest weakness, but ...And Justice... succeeds with carefully crafted ideas and an excellent relationship between guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. In fact, ignoring any background, the album almost sounds like it was recorded by just Ulrich and Hetfield. With songs so long, it's hard for Hammett to really get in on the action, and besides his first solo in 'Blackened', it's difficult to remember his highlights, although solos in 'One' and 'To Live Is To Die' seem to receive praise. Newsted's bass playing is mixed so low it is practially impossible to hear (sometimes I think I can hear it, most of the time I can't). So the biggest draw here is definitely the collaboration between Hetfield and Ulrich. The best thing is that, if you like one song, you're bound to like most of if not all of the rest. On the flip-side, dislike the first song? You'll probably dislike the rest.

The production isn't a 'problem' per se, but many are put off by the very low levelled bass guitar and the clicky, dry drums. The low, barely audible bass is supposedly down to the juvenile behaviour of Ulrich and Hetfield, hazing the newcomer Jason Newsted. The drums being down to the neglected use of the ambient room microphones during the mixing process is definitely easier to believe. The result of such mixing decisions is that no matter how great the music is, it can sound dull. The lack of bass removes energy from the low end, and the lack of ambience on the drums results in a dead and unnatural sound. It would have been nice to have similar ambience of Ride... or Master..., but time has been kind because it's now very hard to imagine it any other way than how it is.

'Blackened', '...And Justice For All' and 'Eye of the Beholder' are three most 'Metallica' songs the band have written, and set the standard high for the rest of the album. 'Blackened' features a weird reversed guitar intro, whilst sounding better musically when played the right way, has a strange but beneficial atmosphere to it. And Kirk's solo is lightning! The best part is when he harmonizes over the chorus... woohee that sounds great! '...And Justice For All' starts with one of my favourite introductions of all time, with convoluting rhythms and riffs, jerky guitar parts and even jerkier drumming. It is yet another example of Metallica's mastery of rhythm and maturity to know when and how much variation to use. 'Eye of the Beholder' has an almost groove-like feel and proceeds to a bridge I was hoping was going to happen: a simple development of the previous riffs. It might not sound like much but it's always nice to hear an artist say 'Hey this riff is awesome, let's see how we can change it and make it different', which is a lot better than 'Hey this riff is awesome, let's use it to death'. To these ears, the rest isn't quite 'up there' with those three tracks, but ends strongly on Ulrich's crowning moment: 'Dyers Eve'. It's definately the track to play for people who doubt the tiny drummer's skills. James also gives his all vocally, sounding very emotional when screaming 'DEAR MOTHER, DEAR FATHER! What is this hell you have put me through?!', it's enough to give you the chills and an astonishing way to end the album.

...And Justice... is the last fully thrash metal album Metallica would do for 20 years, much to many people's disdain. It might take a while to fully appreciate but in the end it is totally worth it, although I do wish a tiny bit that the production was better. I feel as though I'll end up liking it a lot more the longer I spend time with it. With plenty of bright spots (especially in the first half), it still isn't quite a 'must-listen' of the genre, but a pleasantly consistent album to perk things up a bit after Master of Puppets.

Birth School Metallica Death - 100%

dinosour, September 14th, 2012

Sometimes, at certain gigs, I feel so “un-cool” in my Metallica t-shirt, I really do. I’m in my 30’s now and I really shouldn’t have any self-conscious hang ups at this stage, but the weight of that existential, Metallica hating, pressure within metal circles is immense and undeniable. Nobody’s ever said anything to me of course, but I know it’s so far from the “right band” merchandise to wear; on top of that, I can’t help but think of that kid in the press a few years back, who got put in hospital for having the audacity to put on a Hammerfall t-shirt. Yet, I still risk life and limb and adorn that, still fucking incredible logo, having my apprehension mix with pride. I hold both …And Justice For All, and my adolescence, as a major cause for this exceptional act of metallic gallantry.

Yep, that’s a perfect score, right there (something I would only give one other record btw) and it’s for an album that is somewhat grudgingly included in that astonishing run of classic albums by the ex-thrash band. I can indeed see most of the criticisms levelled at Justice; obviously the biggest beef, was/is, the bass been almost completely mixed out, on top of that, the song structures are far more sprawling than before, and it isn’t exactly sing along either, there’s no Creeping Death to shout “Die!” to here. And yet to theses ears it is all totally irrelevant, this is due to that feeling ladies and gents, that intangible, incredible, incomparable, feeling that this record has, even fifteen years after first hearing it. For me, it’s the reason that this style of music becomes part of your life and not just part of your record collection.

The distant walling strings that draw you into the opener “Blackened” with their cold, mourning cry that suddenly snaps, becoming an urgent, remorseless, crushing guitar sound leading in to a precise and perfectly weighted song structure that every 80’s ‘tallica transmission is blessed with. Only there’s something else on this record, adding something to a thrash album that I’ve never heard performed as effectively before or since; there’s fear. A genuine and palpable sense of fear is pervasive throughout every note played, it’s compulsive, consuming and (I’m guessing) partly unintentional genius. Yes, this is Metallica’s most complex, heaviest and darkest album and this probably is, as the press usually say, a reaction to the tragic loss of Bass legend Cliff burton. However, underneath all that, I think the three young men left to cope with that loss where actually just scared. Fear is twisted into every song, every guitar cord, every angular tempo change, but instead of dragging the whole thing down it imbues the sound with such vitality. In turn, this vital, powerful, sense of fear which makes the layer upon layer of guitars work, the super complex song structures sync and make the lack of Bass totally inconsequential. It also allows it to trample right over my head and twists its barbs right through and deep inside my heart making it my favourite record of all time.

All the usual plus points still stand of course; “One” with its Morricone style opening and hellish cascade of solo distortion is indeed fucking awesome. The Guitar sound is great, Lars probably puts in his best performance, feeling loose not sloppy and it is arguably the greatest of Hetfield vocal workouts too. But still, maybe you had to be there, not the 80’s thrash scene, but my mums house in the mid 90’s, painting crucified soldiers on a, rather terrible school art project, listening to Justice for the first time, but hell, you wouldn’t understand, because you weren’t there. Shame really.

Metallica - ...And Justice For All - 95%

Orbitball, February 8th, 2012

This is the 4th studio release for Metallica while they remained a thrash metal outfit. A more technical approach to songwriting and probably the most out of their entire 1980's discography. At the time, this was the first release that I owned by the band. It really got me into thrash metal. Not only was the music dark, but it showed a more technical approach to their songwriting.

Remaining musically doomish and dreary in terms of the song features, this is probably the heaviest release of theirs. Even though some tracks portray clean and/or acoustic guitar melodies, the actual songs are really depressing. That seemed to be Metallica's focus for this album. This remains to be one of my favorite releases from the band.

An introduction to this release begins with lead guitar melodies that segues into a much heavier, E-tuned guitar riff for the song "Blackened". All of the songs are lengthy. The last track entitled "Dyer's Eve" was still well over 5 minutes in length. The tempos for each track vary. Not all of them are downright fast though many melodic especially on the title track and "To Live Is to Die". This song was a tribute to Cliff Burton (RIP).

They remained innovative regarding to the guitar riffs as well as the leads. Kirk Hammett still does a good job in the lead department, though less technical than on "Ride the Lightning" and "Master of Puppets". Hetfield belts out some seriously heavy rhythm guitar structures. His vocals are more hoarse than prior releases though it definitely accompanies the music and overall atmosphere.

Hetfield has a lead guitar part featured on "To Live Is to Die". It's not wholly technical at all and I figure that they wanted to create something that fit the clean electric part which takes place in about the middle of this song. Also, the introduction to this track was an acoustic guitar which then flows into more distorted electric parts. Probably their longest song overall throughout this whole album and 1980's discography.

The title track is lengthy also and filled with clean parts mainly for the introduction but not the entire song at all. There's also a ballad which also became a video. That was something that Metallica wasn't too keen on doing in their earlier days. However, "One" was a huge success overall. But mainly to a darker audience. I don't think that they anticipated going mainstream with it.

Sound quality wise came out more fluidly than previous 1980's releases. This was thanks to Flemming Rasmusson's contribution for the mixing. The only complaint though would be that the bass guitar efforts by Jason Newstead seemed to be totally void. Hearing all of the tracks and not one of them you can really tell that there's bass included on this album.

The focus in terms of the lyrics dealt with society, corruption, inner struggles and anger. Hetfield belts out some seriously heavy throat as previously mentioned. He seemed to really sound like a death metal vocalist spewing depressing lyrics in a much greater magnitude. His only cleaner voice is featured during the clean guitar moments for the song "One". They didn't do any cover songs at all.

This album is their last as a thrash metal outfit. As I said previously, it's their heaviest and darkest release ever. The best tracks to hear are "Blackened", "One" and "To Live Is to Die". All of the tracks are noteworthy though. The ones that I mentioned are my favorites. Their songwriting
here was probably the most creative though some would challenge this view. A sad farewell to the Metallica of the 1980's.

Often misunderstood, more often overrated. - 74%

hells_unicorn, March 2nd, 2011
Written based on this version: 1988, CD, Elektra Records

Metallica’s history has been probably the most contentious of any within metal’s 4 decade history, let alone within the narrower spectrum of their co-pioneered sub-genre within it. The biggest mistake made in judging them is assuming that they were constant trailblazers throughout the entire 80s, though there is definitely something to be said about the products of their infancy circa 1982-84. The second biggest mistake is attempting to throw out the baby with the bathwater by allowing unearned judgment of their past material to be visited due to the repeated commercial pandering and musical failures of the past 20 years. Nevertheless, some of the band’s widely heralded albums are not beyond criticism in this regard, be it what these albums ended up influencing or simply in what changed from before. It all really breaks down to priorities, and it is by the merits of the contents that “...And Justice For All” should be judged.

As a whole, this album could be chalked up to a longer, expanded version of “Master Of Puppets” minus not only Cliff Burton, but the bass as any sort of a consequential instrument. Contrary to popular opinion, the bass is not a complete non-factor, though its presence would only be missed if it were to be completely removed from the mix altogether. But with the recent advent of the master tapes having been communicated and a few alternative mixes with the bass’ presence augmented, it can be safely stated that this was not only an inevitability that the bass was taken down significantly, but the best outcome as well. The overtly tinny character of the guitars and the semi-clicking tendency to the bass drum (a precursor to the annoying sound often heard out of some present day death metal bands) utterly clashes with Newstead’s dark 5-string bass, and short altering the tone of everything else to the point where this would have sounded exactly like “The Black Album”, the mix results would have been abysmal.

But while the overall character of the album’s mix is extremely high end and a complete departure from past efforts, this is largely where the innovative aspects of this album leave off. Some might quibble over the fact that the songs are longer and more involved, and thus this crosses over into progressive territory. Such assertions would seem to downplay the innovations of several Bay Area bands that actually went beyond mere ad nauseam repetition and actually increased the riff set to something really intricate as in “Time Does Not Heal” or “Victims Of Deception”. Likewise, when considering the wide array of bands exploring harsher vocal tones (Sodom and Morbid Saint), keyboard and effects usage (Voivod), more adventurous musical contrasts (Megadeth), or even mixing in creepy atmospheric and melodically dissonant qualities in place of speed and mayhem (Slayer). These songs are long, and there is a fair amount of complexity, but they tend to be the former simply for the sake of it, while the latter category mostly comes into play with Hammet’s lead playing, which is still fairly one-dimensional, but at least more melodically intricate than his work on “Puppets”.

It might be considered unfair to compare this album against other bands who most likely took influences from Metallica at some point (save Megadeth) and who released their comparable material after this album. But it becomes inevitable given a large sentiment amongst certain circles that this band is the tip of the iceberg and often becomes the token thrash band of people who couldn’t give a damn about the genre. The innovative qualities of the contents on here in regards to past work could be chalked up to an angrier and more cynical view of humanity and life, which is hardly anything new even within pre-metal rock bands. This is communicated through songs that are either slowed down, or otherwise expanded in scope through repetition or very slight variation in order to make room for more lyrics and still pay equal attention to instrumental sections. Perhaps the biggest examples of this trend is the overlong title song and the band’s first commercial breakthrough “One”, which pile on the repetition like crazy while putting an emphasis on expanded verse and chorus sections, all of them preceded by an overabundant amount of segue material.

To be fair, a lot of the ideas that were put together can suffer the repetition factor and come through with their luster intact. Even some of the slower material such as “The Frayed Ends Of Sanity” and “Eye Of The Beholder” manage to stay interesting despite a limited riff set that is largely based around a slightly varied verse/chorus structure. Similarly, although it takes a while to get going, “The Shortest Straw” works quite well as an upper mid-tempo version of their formerly blistering thrash style, and manages to come off intelligently lyrically withal the corniness in Hetfield’s cliché rhyme schemes. But in some cases things just take too long to get going and turns into a hypnotic binge of slower metallic grooves, particularly in the case of the overlong “To Live Is To Die” and the utterly boring “Harvester Of Sorrow”, the latter of which is a good precursor towards the dumbed down character of “The Black Album”.

There is a sentiment that this album is an ancestor of the soon to follow half-thrash craze of the early 90s, and examining the lack of consistently thrashing material on here does lend credence to that notion. The lone exceptions to the mixture of slower ideas is the lightning bolt opener “Blackened”, which functions as a better version of “Battery” by exchanging the overlong acoustic drone for a fade in approach with a much less repetitive melody, and the even more agitated closer “Dyer’s Eve”, which outclasses everything on “Puppets” and even challenges some of the more orthodox thrashers from the early days. Between the speedy drums, agitated riff work and Hetfield’s still gritty and powerful growl, everything works perfectly and pays credence that brevity is usually the preferred course in this sub-genre.

When taking into account the massive flaws in how this album is often perceived, which is usually the result of not exploring other bands in this style, the most important question shouldn’t be ignored, namely “Is this a good album?” The answer to that question is mostly yes; though it could have been a good deal better had ‘Harvester Of Sorrow” been dropped along with about 10 minutes of purposeless repetition. There are plenty of decent albums out there that utterly downplay the bass and still come off as ingenious, and there are slower Thrash albums that work very well (“South Of Heaven” and “Souls Of Black”). But given its massive notoriety, “And Justice For All” isn’t an album to be recommended so much as to simply be critiqued.

Originally submitted to ( on March 2, 2011.

Why didn't this thing kill them off? WHY? - 92%

Napero, December 25th, 2009

Metallica's career is the official roller-coaster experience in the history of metal, no matter how you look at it. Denying their important part in the formative years of thrash is silliness, no matter how influental you consider Mustaine's contributions, and no matter how much you disagree with him being given the boot. Kill 'em All is one of the handful of original thrash full-lengths, even if someone somewhere might have done something similar before. Ride the Lightning, along with the commercial behemoth Master of Puppets, defined the frontier between thrash and mainstream on the map of music, with MoP sometimes slipping over to the other side. The S/T black album was a carefully planned commercial success, and the Loads were the next, logical step in the mid-life mellowing of millionaires. St Anger is the album they'd disown, weren't they too embarrassed of it to discuss it enough to disown it. But where does ...And Justice for All fit in this stomach-churning series of ups and downs?

...And Justice for All should have been the album that killed Metallica. And to emphasize, it could have been exactly that, looking from a musical/financial angle, it should have been exactly that, looking from the tr00 metalhead's angle, and it might even have turned into that, had the audience and the band listened to critics and each other more than they did. Also, it's perhaps the "forgotten" Metallica album, after the waves it made upon its release died and the albums that came after it left it wedged between the thrashy beginning and the commercially successful section of Metallica's long career.

The music on ...And Justice for All is curiously something thrash could have evolved into in its mature years. As such, it could perhaps be seen as a manifesto, an attempted new beginning for a genre that burned the candle from both ends and virtually disappeared for a decade after shining so very brightly. The songs have a progressive feel to them, but without any real progressive elements; considering long songs a telltale sign of "progression" has always been a shining example of faulty logic. Here, the scent of progressive influence stems more from the chosen sound, the controversial clinical production, and the fact that they gave up the last remnants of their original fury and replaced it with a taste of cold steel and controlled restraint, but didn't yet inject any of the radio-friendly components of the later albums.

The songs have a nice variance between them, from the thrash pieces such as "Blackened", to slower but almost as uncompromizing songs such as "Harvester of Sorrow". The underlying template from Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets found its way onto ...And Justice for All, and "One" holds the position of the song that turns from a mellow thing to more angry metal stealthily as a ninja in the night, reserved by "Fade to Black" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" on the earlier albums as the last song of the first side of the vinyl version; the albums were a product of the days of staggeringly expensive CDs, and the gatefold vinyl version was one of the neatest formats of metal albums ever. The song placement follows the same pattern on other tracks as well.

The controversy of the production led to some heated discussion back in the day, even before the popularization of internet allowed Joe Sixpack to voice his opinion, followed by a muffled "durr....". The drums have a neutered cardboard box sound, especially compared to the fleshy cudgeling on most 80s thrash albums. Unlike MoP, the album didn't get rest of the world onto the bandwagon, and very few albums emulate the sound of ...AJfA. The problems in the production are difficult to point out, and even the bass frequencies, often mentioned as missing, are there. The overall sound resembles a bread knife more than the earlier baseball bat, and has a thin, serrated feel to it. Why didn't it work? That's a good question, because the guitars on the front have a sharp edge, the drumming is perfectly audible despite the odd choice of sound, and even Hetfield's last decent vocals are fully audible, if a bit distant. Somehow the production robs a big part of the punch the songs could have held, but on the other hand, it is the origin of the "progressive" tag too often glued on the album.

Technically, the performance is rather good, and almost mechanical in its perfection; it gives the music a robotic, soulless exterior, and distancing the vocals to the background and giving the sharp guitars the main role further turns this into the least readily accessible Metallica album. No doubt Ulrich's drums have been doctored, and Hammett's solos were finally starting to get too stale to really work on this kind of metal, but the album is a rhythm guitar driven creation, and the things that stay in the mind's player are the riffs. And there is a bunch of really good riffs on the album. It just takes a dozen spins before the box opens, the production makes ...AJfA a difficult thing to approach.

But what about the part about ...And Justice for All being the death of Metallica alluded to earlier? What makes this album so potentially lethal to the band? The answer comes in three parts, just like the question.

The album could have killed off Metallica, and it sort of did, because after it Metallica wasn't the Metallica of the earlier albums, and promptly "sold out" on the black album immediately a couple of years afterwards. After the surprising success of Master of Puppets, Metallica was one of the metal bands most closely followed by music media, if not the metal band. And media didn't like ...And Justice for All. The critics bashed the production, the radio played the songs less than those of MoP two years earlier, and a lot of people who recognized several of the songs off MoP never learned to know a single track from this album, until Metallica gave in on their "no videos" policy and shot a music video for "One". The video is a child of its times, and a decent thing at that, with the Johnny Got His Gun clips, even including the coversations from the movie on top of the music, and unheard of thing back in the late 80s. Only the appearance of the video made this album known among the mainstream crowd, and "One" remains the only track with any household value here. Yes, this could well have ended the career of Metallica, but the days of hundreds of millions of people online, all willing to voice their informed opinions and jump the bandwagon, were still far ahead. Should this kind of release see the light of day now, it would get beaten to pulp before release date by the downloading masses, and it would be guaranteed to fail commercially. This time, however, the fans were loyal to the band, and ...And Justice for All didn't kill Metallica. They learned from the experience, though, and instead of an ambitious metal album, they created a commercial album with radio tracks and several accompanying videos next.

To say that the album should have killed Metallica is a more opinionated claim. The aforementioned selling out on the black album was the point where an old school Metallica fan's interest in the band started to wane, and the development reached its nadir on Load and even more acutely on Reload. Had we never seen the days of radio-friendly Metallica, the modern rock phase of the Loads, or the pseudo-symphonic foolishness of S&M, not to mention the desperate throwback abomination known as St. Anger, and had Metallica known better and disbanded after ...And Justice for All, they'd hold much more credibility among the metal audience. Naturally, their bank accounts would also hold at least one digit less, but this album could well have held the same position as, say, Emotional Playground in Stone's discography, as the difficult to access but rewarding final album in a beautiful run of a handful of quality metal. Instead, they kept going, made a shitload of money, turned into a stadion dinosaur with surprisingly good live shows, had a midlife crisis known as St. Anger, made a "return to the roots" on Death Magnetic and so on. Things could have gone a different way, and Metallica could have left a beautiful corpse instead of the Grandpa Simpson of today.

Finally, ...And Justice for All might have been the death of Metallica. The album indeed wasn't loved by the media, except, of course, by the corporate metal magazines. A group with less drive and ideas, or, alternatively put, less bony foreheads and stubborness, could well have seen the reception of the album as a coup de grâce, and maybe even seen the looming end of the wonderful thrash era ahead, and dropped their instruments there and then. But Metallica turned the knobs titled "commercial" on their amps to eleven, and started to walk the road of transformation to AOR. More so, had the audience listened to the media and each other as much as it does today, and the decision might not even have been theirs to make. This may sound tautological with the above, but things are different from the band's and the audience's points of view.

If Metallica indeed has an album that could be called "forgotten", this is it. No radio hits or well-known songs beyond "One", no real controversy after the first year's discussion on the production died down, and few people with strong opinions on it, ...And Justice for All gets less mentions than the albums both preceding and following it virtually everywhere. The low accessibility, combined with the production and the last ambitious examples of Metallica's songwriting make this the album with no obvious target audience. No target audience translates to little discussion, and that's the extent of it.

...And Justice for All is a good album. It has its flaws, but the songs simply beg for cover versions, to show their real potential. There are bucketfuls of good riffs, the songs work like oiled machines, and for the last time before compromizing, Metallica plays real thrash. There are those of us who took the time to get used to the album, and consider it better than MoP, but even we sometimes forget it on the CD shelf for half a decade. Returning to it is always a delight, though, once the effort of getting the door to its soul open is taken. Don't give up, there are nuggets of gold among the rust-coloured sand here.

The Emperor's New Clothes - 55%

The_Ghoul, April 13th, 2008

Let me establish something first: I never considered Metallica anything new or original, even in their glory days. Kill Em' All was raw, beer-fueled aggression, sure, and Ride the Lightening was pure thrash to the core. But it had been done before, by bands better at it, in greater quantities. Most of the riffs that made Ride the Lightening and Kill Em' All great were Mustaine riffs, and you could definitely start to hear the absence of Mustaine on Master of Puppets. And on this, you can REALLY hear the absence of Mustaine, as well as the lack of any bass presence whatsoever (Newsted isn't to blame, it's the band and the producer), lending it a rather one dimensional sound.

I have a theory that Hetfield was never really a riff genius. He wrote some great lyrics back in the days when they went through rough times (loser lunch, anybody?), and hell, he's come up with a good riff or two. But most of the good riffs from Kill Em' All and Ride the Lightening were most likely written by Mustaine. Metallica didn't dramatically sell out with the Black Album, Load/Reload, and St. Anger. James/Lars (the other two don't really have any creative control, it seems) have have been sellouts long before it showed any signs, even back in the Master of the Puppets days. Why do I mention that album? Because it's basically a facsimile of Ride the Lightening, but instead of being fresh and innovative, it was tired and boring, the "epic" songs long and meandering and the thrash songs copies of past genius. Remember when they went on MTV for the first time, and spent the speech whining and bitching about how they didn't get their MTV? They've always wanted money and fame. It's just that when the tide of music started turning, and metal wasn't so popular anymore, they tried making a modern rock album (Load) and when Numetal was really popular, they made a numetal album (St. Anger).

What does that have to do with ...And Justice For All? Everything. It was made with the same mentality as the Black Album, Load/Reload, and St. Anger. That is, they write songs for the fans, not themselves. They don't use introspection to create metal that came from the depths of their soul, they just write what they think the fans will like, what will be popular. It shows, here, because even though it's touted as progressive thrash, it's not real progressive, and it's really more heavy metal than thrash metal. More specifically, Metallica wanted to create music that was "epic" and slower than their usual fare. That's a good intention and all, but it's entirely disingenuous if there's no real desire for change. See, Metallica are using the same riffs, Kirk doing the same solos, and Lars doing the same drum patterns as always. They wanted to change for superficial reasons, and because of that, little actual change occured.

Having heard music made around the same time attempting the same thing but doing it several times better, ...And Justice For All can't help but sound mediocre. James is a mostly pentatonic riff writer, and you can't really do "epic" with pentatonic riffs, and that's what he tries to do here a lot, and it comes off sounding cheesy and half-baked. His gruff bark, which works for thrash, doesn't work for epics. His cleaner style sounds forced and rather thin, akin to another heavy metal giant of the period, Jon Oliva. Both are better off barking along to pugilistic heavy metal than singing along to more ballad-y music. As well, the "yeah"s and the "uh-huh"s and other cliche'd rockstar-isms Hetfield uses are annoying as hell, and further detract from the seriousness of what they're attempting.

But it takes much more terrible vocals to ruin good music, but, alas, if ...And Justice For All had good music. It doesn't. It has mediocre riffs with mediocre solos on top of mediocre drumlines. The bass, of course, doesn't factor in at all. Of course, Justice for All is nowhere near as aggravatingly MTV as the Black Album nor is it as downright embarrassing as Load/Reload and St. Anger, as this is years before Hetfield & Co. started scraping the bottom of the artistic barrel.

Memories - 90%

bndgkmf, April 2nd, 2008

Ahhh ...And Justice For All. The soundtrack to that halcyon summer before I started junior high. This album is forever linked to my first beer, ciggy and porno movie. Needless to say I have a soft spot for this album but I will try to stay objective. Did I also mention that this was the winning shot in the thrash vs. glam wars? Yes this album but Metallica on the radio. Consequently all the glam fans started to listen to Metallica and you got the Black Album. Thats why it gets a 90.

This album gets a lot of flak over the production. It's too dry? Who really wants to listen to reverb tails feeding back and muffling the sound? The drums are strange? Well, thats only because they basically pieced the drum parts together measure by measure, not fun in those pre-Pro Tools days. You can't hear the bass? Having seen Metallica live about 3 times I can honestly say you don't want to hear the bass. It's not like Jason Newsted was Jaco Pastorius. Hell, he wasn't even Kip Winger. The production is tinny? Are you listening to the album on your headphones from 1988? This was the album that forced metal heads to get kicker boxes and speakers made out of a material other than paper. The Mesa Boogie Mark IIc's put out enough low end to make you sterile. This is the one criticism that has gone on for too long. Invest in some speakers.

Blackened, Shortest Straw and Dyer's Eve will all tear your head off. Greatest songs to skateboard to. I know that there were faster bands and drummers but no one infiltrated thrash into society like Metallica did. Eye of the Beholder and Harvester of Sorrow are the groove that they were looking for in their 90's albums. Sad that it was right in front of their faces the whole time. Which brings me to the long songs. ...And Justice For All and To Live Is To Die are just flat out self-indulgent but you have to give them a break as they were working out the ghost of Cliff Burton with the latter. That leaves us with Frayed Ends of Sanity. I don't know what to make of this song. It's somewhat fast. It's kinda got a proggy riff. It's got the coolest Wizard of Oz opening in heavy metal. Yet it somehow leaves me cold. I'm noncommittal on this particular song. The strength of this album is that it is an album take it all in as a whole. War, insanity, death, fire are all tried and true heavy metal subjects. The communist witch hunts of the 50's and environmental disaster are not. At least not until this album.

So whatever the faults of this album it still holds a place in my heart. Music for me is invariably tied to the emotions I had when I first heard it. This album will always remind me of the sheer hedonism of youth. Skate and destroy my friends. Thrash if you got 'em.

Metallica's creative peak - 95%

Ghost_of_Ktulu, September 23rd, 2007

California's Metallica, possibly the biggest name in the metal world, is a band of progression. Many will denote the passing of Cliff Burton as the band's untimely death, and the albums that follow this tragic event as the mere shadow of a once-great band. I will make no such denotes. To me, a band that explores its creative juices is a truly artistic band, for a true artist does not fear the idea of trying different things.

This effort, oddly named ...and Justice for All, is a true sign that Metallica are a bunch of truly expressive artists. There is a certain charm to the album's bare-bones, dry, raw production and its technical structures, but there's also a lot of expressive anger, discontent and even emotion in here. It may not have Cliff Burton written on its "Metallica is", but it doesn't have to - ...and Justice for All is arguably Metallica's greatest metal record.

...and Justice for All is a very ballsy album. Speaking of defiance of social ideas, greed and war, Justice can be justifiably called a rebellious record. In fact, it's probably the band's most rebellious release yet, using a heavier sound and a much more aggressive approach to the music.

Take "Eye of the Beholder" for example. This completely emotionless song speaks of freedom of speech and the way it is mutilated by authorities, governments and the likes. The band's frustration shines through this one in its crushing riffs and difficult melodies. The lyrics don't stop there. Even the apocalyptic "Blackened" describes the end of the world and doesn't waste its time making a hint.

To begin whipping dance of the dead
Blackened is the end
To begin whipping dance of the dead
is the outcome of hypocrisy
Darkest potency
In the exit of humanity
Color our world blackened".

Metallica's discontent with society is possibly most apparent on the titular song, which happens to last for almost 10 minutes. The song, surprisingly melodic for such an angry tune, speaks of the power that money has over people and the corruption that it causes.

..but Justice touches on more than just corruption and social deformities. The band's anthem, "One", is the band's most well-known ballad, taking influences from the book and movie "Johnny Got His Gun". The song, just like "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" before it, keeps shifting between the soft and melodic and the crunchy and heavy, creating a very dynamic song that only keeps building up until it finally explodes into complete chaos, incorporating what is probably Kirk Hammett's best guitar solo ever and the band's famous machinegun riff.

If that's not enough, then for the first time since "Fade to Black", James Hetfield decides to show his darker, more personal side, this time through the thrashy Dyers Eve. Just like the violent burst of an emotional breakdown, Hetfield assaults his parents for not doing the best job raising him.

"Dear mother, dear father
You've clipped my wings before I learned to fly
Unspoiled, unspoken
I've outgrown that fuckin' lullaby
Same thing I've always heard from you
Do as I say not as I do"

Hetfield's powerful lyrics are full of light metaphors and direct attacks at different things, and they remain great throughout the entire album. It's amazing how some of these topics remain relevant to this very day, making Justice quite a relevant record, even almost 20 years after its release.

And the music, well, is excellent. As stated above, this is Metallica at its rawest, most aggressive, most technical. The bass is barely audible, the guitars are thick and the drums make a clicking sound, and all this can and will turn some off, but here's a person who thinks the dry production serves the album well. The pure raw anger is complimented by the raw production, and overall the sound of the album isn't half as bad as some make it out to be.

Justice contains Metallica's most sophisticated, heaviest riffs yet. A lot of changing tempos, a lot of weird rhythms, a lot of palm-muted guitars and a lot of excellent solos courtesy of one Kirk Hammett, specifically One, Blackened and Dyers Eve. What's interesting about Justice is how most of its solos are actually divided in two, with a small break in between. A pure example of that is opener Blackened. The solo comes in after an impressive guitar harmony and at first, it's pretty measured. The riff in the background isn't the thrashy riff that's so characteristic of the song but a very heavy one, and the solo builds on it very well, only getting faster and faster until finally making a screeching halt, giving way to Hetfield's powerful rhythm guitar to show its face one more time before Hammett finally goes berserk and bombards us with perfectly placed, lightning-fast notes backed by fast riffing and drumming, eventually throwing the song's trademark riff right back at your face for the final blow. Justice is filled to the top with moments like this of songs building up, just like a hammer being swung backwards before it's flung forward to crush the rock below it. The drumming in Justice is also very good and definitely showcases Lars Ulrich's best, most inspired work, specifically on the title song.

This isn't to say the music on Justice is perfect. The technical nature of the album and the long songs might drag on a bit at times, and the album seems to be losing momentum on "The Shortest Straw" and "The Frayed Ends of Sanity". Do not get me wrong, these are two excellent songs, but sometimes they feel a bit overlong when you give the album a full listen. This is all forgiven by the song bridging them, "Harvester of Sorrow", which is quite possibly the band's heaviest song right next to "The Thing That Should Not Be".

Justice also includes an instrumental piece called "To Live is to Die". This instrumental, unlike the mysterious "Orion", is very sad and desperate, though it does have a very similar structure. Heavy guitars, a solo, a soft bridge and finally back to the heavy for one more moment of power and a fade-out ending. Worthy of special mention is the melodic section in the middle of the song. This depressing riff is divine on its own, but when it gets the company of James and Kirk's guitars it becomes the most powerful moment on the album. The ending of the instrumental, based around a poem written by the late Cliff Burton, only gives the piece more power and keeps making me feel bad that it actually ends.

"When a man lies
He murders some part of the world
These are the pale deaths
Which men miscall their lives
All this I cannot bear to witness any longer
Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home?"

...And Justice for All is a difficult album. It's not easy to listen to, it's not easy to digest and it's definitely not easy for people used to lighter stuff. Its production is controversial, its lyrical themes aren't very optimistic and the entire sound of the album is just very dark and angry. However, as dark and heavy as it is, Justice is still a very melodic, musically fascinating album that not only can be considered the band's creative peak, but one of the greatest heavy metal records of all time. Metallica was great before ...And Justice for All and they were just as great after it, but if you ask me, it'd be hard for them to top this masterpiece.

A Mature and Intelligent Metallica. - 93%

caspian, June 21st, 2007

One thing that most metal fans are sick of is the tired, clichéd criticisms thrown at heavy metal. “It’s just so Juvenile and Stupid”, “Just a load of bloody noise” and what have you. These days, it’s a claim that’s somewhat easily refuted, with some of the more mainstream bands like Mastodon, Meshuggah and even Tool taking a somewhat ‘intellectual’ and literate approach to metal. However, back in 1988 there wasn’t really any of this. Sure, there were plenty of bands making intelligent, interesting metal, but none of them were visible to the public. Instead, the public’s perception of metal was informed by bands like Motley Crue, Poison and the like, which were, well, “Juvenile and Stupid”.

Luckily, Metallica stepped in and begun to change things. Unlike the Hair Metallers of the time, Metallica didn’t wear heaps of hair spray and make up- they looked like they had came straight from the street. And of course, you’ve got the much more intelligent approach to lyric writing. Compare Motley Crue’s lyrics, from their tune ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’:

“Friday night and I need a fight
My motorcycle and a switchblade knife
Handful of grease in my hair feels right
But what I need to make me tight are

Girls, Girls, Girls, Long legs and burgundy lips
Girls, Dancin' down on Sunset Strip
Girls, Red lips, fingertips.”

Then compare Metallica’s lyrics on the title track of this album:

“Lady Justice Has Been Raped
Truth Assassin
Rolls of Red Tape Seal Your Lips
Now You're Done in
Their Money Tips Her Scales Again
Make Your Deal
Just What Is Truth? I Cannot Tell
Cannot Feel

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy
I Can't Believe the Things You Say
I Can't Believe
I Can't Believe the Price We Pay
Nothing Can Save Us”.

It’s pretty obvious how big the difference is here. Metallica’s lyrics aren’t going to beat a Shakespeare sonnet for lyrical genius, but they aren’t terrible, and compared to Motley Cure and the like, they are pretty damn good lyrics. Of course, it would be fair enough to say that Metallica weren’t quite as popular as Motley Crue. They definitely didn’t get as much airplay. Nonetheless, this album went to number 6 on the charts, which defines a mainstream album fairly well. A metal album, released in 1988, that sold lots and yet was still quite intelligent? That’s pretty unique!

Of course, just because an album is unique doesn’t necessarily mean it is any good. Fortunately, this album is one of the best thrash albums going. While I’m not going to say “Every riff is really fierce and brutal”, [i]almost[/i] every riff is brutal. Let’s forget the somewhat uninspired drivel that’s The Shortest Straw. The riffs in Blackened are freaking huge, and the pounding and ferocity of that song is really emphasized by the crushing, nihilistic breakdown in the middle of the song. It’s definitely a reminder to everyone that sometimes slowing down the tempo can make things really heavy. Eye of The Beholder is somewhat simpler, but no less heavy, with James doing some particularly effective growls throughout this song. Meanwhile, Dyer’s Eve is a surprisingly violent thrasher, full of super fast riffs and some surprisingly awkward rhythms. One takes a while to get anywhere, but when the machine gun drums and guitars come in, it’s pretty enjoyable to say the least. The instrumentation in this album is really tight. Lars may get a lot of hate, but his drum patterns in this album are really solid. Kirk’s soloing is at its prime- there’s not a lot of wah pedal here, there’s plenty of shredding, but it’s still all pretty memorable. James is in good form too- his vocals were probably the most aggressive they would ever get, but they’re still somewhat tuneful, and his guitar work is as solid as ever. Of course, I haven’t mentioned the bass, and we’ll get to that later.

There are also a few moments where Metallica stretch themselves, and do things they hadn’t really done before. To Live is To Die doesn’t have the most exciting riffs being mostly a slow, Sabbath like plod, but the clean break in the middle is surprisingly vulnerable, dare I say... beautiful? Hetfield’s solo right after this features some of the most heartfelt guitar work in any Metallica album. Frayed Ends of Sanity has a long, extended guitar break in the middle, and it works really well. It’s a surprisingly simple formula- get a riff, and play it in heaps of different keys- but it works so damn well. Harvester of Sorrow also features an extended instrumental break that’s particularly impressive. These bits aren’t that technical, but they aren’t exactly super easy to play either, and they do feature a lot of pretty impressive interplay between the instruments. Indeed, all of the instruments (except for the bass, which I’ll get to later) really shine on this album.

Of course, there’s a few moments where Metallica get a bit too caught up in their progressive dickery. While I enjoy the title track, it’s way to freaking long, and cutting two minutes of it would be pretty sweet. As I said, a cool track, but could you imagine hearing this live? It would be so freaking boring. One is a pretty enjoyable power ballad, but like the title track it could really use some cutting. The clean riffs at the start really aren’t that good, and the ending goes on for too long. Shortest Straw suffers from similar problems- generally, too many riffs that go on for too long. I’m not actually sure why they put this song in here, as listening to the album shows that it’s easily the weakest track on the album. If you’ve got 63 minutes of material, why not just drop one track? Oh well.

The other problem with this album is the production. Yeah, most people will have heard of how crap the production is etc etc. But when you’ve got material that’s as good as this, it really is annoying. Admittedly, I quite like the guitar tone. It’s razor sharp and fits quite well for the songs. But the lack of bass (and really, there is a complete freaking lack of bass) makes the whole album sound quite thin. It’s not that noticeable when these guys are going at a fast tempo, but whenever they slow it down (eg, Harvester of Sorrow, To Live is to Die, the breakdown in Blackened) the lack of bass makes the whole thing sound quite weak. Still, compared to 99% of metal albums, it’s got good production, so while someone who’s new to metal may have an issue with the way it’s recorded, most metal fans shouldn’t have too much of a problem with it.

Still, despite the flaws in the production, this is a great album, and a historically important one at that. It showed the world what metal could do, and just how damn epic and important it can be. Of course, that may not mean anything to you, and that’s cool, because at the very least, this is a really entertaining thrash album.

The Last Gasp of the Real Metallica - 80%

corviderrant, April 22nd, 2007

This for me was the last gasp of the "true" Metallica, the one that actually played thrash metal at one point. I remember buying this and liking it a lot at the time even though the production has a horrible tin can sound, as in it sounds as though it was recorded in a tin can. And it doesn't hold up well at all in that respect, honestly. The music, however, still is pretty damn good most of the time.

Forget the utter lack of bottom end and tinniness for the time being, as those are obvious enough traits the moment the album starts proper. Let us also not harp on the fact that Kirk Hammett is still the weakest link with his thin, squeaky guitar tone and overly spastic vibrato technique. The riffs are still there and still strong on Hetfield's part.

Lars actually does a pretty decent job on here drumming-wise, I disagree with some reviewers, despite the dry and weak drum sound making him sound awful. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that Lars puts in his best performance on this album. Let us also forget how badly they fucked over Jason Newsted in the mix by taking the bass out altogether. It's a shame they removed him because he is a good player--if Flotsam & Jetsam was any indicator, mind you. The songs are good and solid in the long run; I still remember riffs from "Blackened" and "Eye of the Beholder", and even though I hate "One" now because it was so overplayed by (E)M(P)TV, I still think the machinegun bursts of riffing and drumming at the end are great!

"Blackened", "Eye of the Beholder", "To Live Is To Die", "Dyer's Eve" (with Lars' hellacious drumming), the title track, all still resonate with me these days. Musically, this was indeed their most ambitious effort and I appreciated them taking this risk and departing from their roots just enough to make something new out of them. I found it fresh and exciting and still enjoy the hell out of this album. It's better than the damn "Black Album", that's for sure.

It's more progressive in that it has longer and more challenging songs on their part, different time changes and signatures, and still maintains their signature heaviness that they once had. It is a powerful balance of all the old elements of their sound mixed with newer aspects that work and work well. Now if only they'd gotten a proper production job to make this excellent music sound worthy of greater acclaim!

This still will "bang the head that doesn't bang" but in a different manner. A more mature and ambitious manner, and it is still heavy as hell. Shortcomings aside, of course, it still works for what it is, which is a good and exciting album.

...And Drowsiness For All - 40%

Mikesn, February 20th, 2007

After 1986's critically acclaimed Master of Puppets, it was quite obvious that it would be incredibly tough for Metallica to release a record which could top the album which many perceive to be the band's maximum opus. This would be a difficult task for most bands to accomplish. However, most bands do not lose dear friends and band mates in tour bus accidents. The death of bassist Cliff Burton was definitely a blow to Metallica, and likely affected the writing process of their next album. But they survived the ordeal and in 1988, looked to release …And Justice for All. Predictably, the album had nothing on their previous works. Though by no means a terrible offering, Metallica's fourth album is quite unlike both Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets, as it is a difficult album to both get into and enjoy.

Like its predecessors, …And Justice for All is rooted in the thrash metal genre. The opening track, Blackened definitely shows listeners this. Yet something is definitely different this time. The riffy elements of songs like Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets were one of the reasons I enjoyed each respective song and album so much. Metallica definitely has not forsaken the almighty guitar riff, but if I told you that the riffs and solos off this album were a treat to listen to, I'd be lying to you. In the past, the metallic sound that Metallica had once incorporated into their music has disappeared, for the most part. Often times the riffing sounds tasteless and dull. Something I'm not accustomed to when listening to early Metallica. Hetfield's rhythm work sounds weak, muffled and isn't exactly the most pleasing thing to listen to, especially when Lars Ulrich's drumming seemingly overpower them. In laymen's terms, the production is atrocious, and negatively affects the album in a rather large way. On the positive side, the solos of lead guitarist Kirk Hammet are not affected as much as the riffs, but a significant point makes this moot. Kirk Hammet is obviously not soloing for the entire record. What does this mean? The listless riff work is far more prominent, partly due to the extremely long track times. Because of the uninteresting song structure and the monotone rhythm guitar tones, I sometimes find myself completely ignoring Hammet's soloing. I guess soloing over white noise seems to be rendered ineffective. Musically, …And Justice for All is a very disappointing album.

But the negativity does not stop there, unfortunately. For …And Justice for All contains another irritating aspect, and again, this revolves around a rather important part of the album. This is the extremely long length of the album. Long run times aren't always a problem for me. But they are in this case, as Metallica only records two songs that are shorter than 6 minutes. So, how is this a problem, you ask? As a result of James' lacklustre riffs, the album plods along at a snail pace. Songs like the title track and To Live is to Die are both nearly 10 minutes in length and both tracks are adequate examples of what went wrong with Metallica in 1988. Nearly every song drags on for much longer than they should, and are rather boring to listen to. Due to the insipidly slow mood and atmosphere that many of the songs create, …And Justice for All feels a lot (lots of stress here) longer than it really is. I don't like that in my music. This was a major turn off for me, as Metallica's fourth album is very difficult to listen to, to begin with, and the incredibly long lengths of the tracks don’t help at all.

Though definitely not on the level of Master of Puppets, …And Justice for All was still a successful album and helped cement Metallica's legacy. Saying that, I can't see why the album gets so much praise at all. The band's fourth full length offering is a very dull album which often fails to maintain any interest what so ever. Quite difficult to listen to, it offers little in the field of enjoyment, and does not capitalize on the momentum that might have been gained from classic tracks like Blackened and One. …And Justice for All is definitely the weakest Metallica album of the 80's and is definitely not worth the $20 it costs. Avoid this whenever possible.

(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)

What were they trying to do? - 92%

erickg13, October 3rd, 2006

When listening to “…And Justice for All” the thing that always bounces around my mind is ‘what where they trying to do?’. Were they trying to make some sort of magnum opus? Were they trying to make Master of Puppets part two?

With the loss of Cliff Burton it is easy to imagine the band taking a few steps backwards. They do not move back musically, however unlike previous albums they make no leap forward from the previous album. Another thing that must be noted is the well has run dry of Dave Mustaine riffs to mold and modify songs around. This effects the sound immensely, there is the introduction of doom metal influence and the songs have become more progressive (only two songs are below six minutes), and most of all is the tinny sound of the guitars.

Which leads us into the production of the album, it’s awful. Unlike most people I have very few complaints with the bass, it could be farther up in the mix, but even Jason Newsted has said that he basically took James and Kirks guitar riffs and made bass riffs that would fit (behind) the music nicely. Though the bass is still there, it just happens to be deeper and darker, and somewhat more guttural, than anything Cliff ever made. Cliff had a style which intersected and cut through the music, much of the complaints could just be the awkward transition for fans and the band from Cliff (and his style) to Jason (and his respective style).

The guitars on the album sound bad compared to other albums, both by Metallica and other thrash bands. They have a tinny quality to them. They have a tendency to ring and sound too shrill. I do not understand how this happened, whether it was by choice or by horrid mixing. However their effort is not totally futile, they up the ante on the technicality (with shreds of neo-classical style worked in, no pun intended) to the guitar work, mainly in the solos, but it is also evident in the rhythm guitar.

As I said earlier about the production is that the bass was not my biggest complaint, however it is the drums. The drums on “…And Justice for All” aren’t really good but what makes them worse is that they seem to be the focal point of the music. On Metallica’s earlier albums the drums pounded with thundering force, on “…And Justice for All” they click and clack. Also the symbols rattle and crackle, and just don’t have the body that it really could.

And finally it comes to the vocals. There seems to be a hesitancy to admit that James Hetfield in his heyday was a great singer, and on “…And Justice for All” there is points which really help his case and on others it doesn’t. On as “One” he provides a very beautiful vocal performance, and his best on this album. One thing that will be instantly noticeable when listening is that there he sounds angry,
frustrated and pissed off throughout the whole album.

A few of the more notable songs from the album are the title track “…And Justice for All”, the hit “One”, the epic “Harvester of Sorrows” and the Cliff Burton tribute in “To Live is To Die”. I believe that while those are standout songs, the album hits its most epic, doomy, and powerful force when listened to in full. The album develops a tidal wave like intensity that you feel hit you in full force when you try to digest it in full. The album has a truly dynamic edge despite many of its failings. Also, the lyrics are darker and angrier than anything on previous (or even future) albums Metallica made.

Overall, “…And Justice for All”, is a quite impressive album which EVERY metal fan should try, at least. There is musicianship that impresses even the most arrogant classical snob, and still can be comprehensible to even the most basic thrash fan. Despite its faults and failings “…And Justice for All” has integrity and authoritativeness that were lost in later albums, which helps this stand out even more. All this said I cannot assure everyone will like it, but there is no denying its greatness. It can also be looked at the last great Metallica album.

...And Justice For Metallica? - 86%

Wez, March 21st, 2004

Gripes about the production of the album aside, for me this is neither Metallica's best nor is it their worst. They make a good overall stab at being progressive but really once I listened more and more to this I found limitations and started to feel it wasn't as good as they'd hoped. They do have a formula that repeats itself for pretty much each song and also takes the album into murky territory during the middle. It opens excellently with "Blackened", escaping the trap of most of the rest of the album, no problems with songwriting or arrangement here, it spreads itself out well and shatters the senses like a good Metallica opener should. Then we get "...And Justice For All" which pretty much starts to display the main problems I find in the album. An excellent opening two mintues before we meet the verses, and then things slowly shift down a notch. The songs here are basically made up of a long verse/pre chorus/chorus passage, repeated at least three times held together by a lead break section in the middle. The only trouble with this is the long verses start to tire themselves out slowly each time they return. Twice before the mid section and once after, not just a chorus but the whole passage is played out again after the solos. The songs could really have been balanced out more and they wouldn't feel so monotonous. Sometimes it does work for the songs in the case of the title track, the thundering heaviness keeping it interesting. and the mid section is greatly refreshing once you reach it. Those parts really do save the songs in a way, you really feel better once the endless verses and choruses give way to something different. "Eye Of The Beholder" is the same, the quality of the parts that make up the song make the songwriting problems easier to forgive, excellent solos too. "One" is the token ballad with the same kind of structure from the previous albums, this one also gets played a lot more than the rest of the album for me as it's also a live favourite and a video too. It doesn't tire easily I have to say, it's stronger than most of the rest on here.

"The Shortest Straw" suffers heavily from a repetitive chorus, which starts the album's decline here, the riffs are good but the song needed to be put together better. The mid section again breathes life into it and gets your attention, but the ending verses kind of kill it off again. Another live favourite "Harvester Of Sorrow" is a good one... again kind of spoiled in that they could have reduced the number of times we hear the verse and chorus, it's still good. "The Frayed Ends Of Sanity" finishes this trilogy that just suffer the most from the album's problems, maybe it's to do with my mood, but since I was so into the first part of the album, I'll put this in with the other two.

Things just radically pick themselves up with "To Live Is To Die", I really like the way they made this one, it's just as long as the title track but there's much more to it. Love it or hate it, it's still a worthy tribute to Cliff, with a nice spoken part of his lyrics. "Dyer's Eve" starts off great, a good fast number to round off the album in true Metallica tradition... if only it weren't for the number of times the "Dear Mother, Dear Father..." verse is repeated, they must repeat that more than any other passage in the album! It's not as good as the other album closers, but it has good energy and riffs that ultimately get spoiled. I would love to give this album more , The Black Album probably has better songwriting than this but everything else is done better here, though it really did take away something from this album that it needed. It is definitely worth owning though.

Metallica Gives Birth to a New Genre - 97%

OlympicSharpshooter, December 31st, 2003

Metallica returns, minus seminal bassist Cliff Burton, to shake the metal world once more. They've added Jason Newsted, though you wouldn't know if from listening to the album and they've gone as far as they could technically. This is the cold new frontier of thrash, Metallica creating or defining (depends who you ask) the new niche to be called Progressive Thrash.

The songs are longer, the music tougher, the lyrics more poetic, and the band uncompromising. Although I disagree, it's easy to see why people felt so betrayed by Metallica's musical shift in the 90's. This album is a mechanical paradigm shift after two similar (but equally important) mid 80's efforts. It still loosely follows the same structure, but these songs are so advanced from the familiar speed of the classic thrash era that one is almost disoriented by it.

"Blackened" is structurally like "Battery" from an album back, but the cold production makes it feel totally new, and that vocal melody is unforgettable. A nice moshpit worthy breakdown, and a brilliant Hammett solo. The riff recalls Slayer circa Hell Awaits, the same aggression, the same choppy chops executed throughout, simply cold steel played with an unpredictable and slightly mechanical edge.

And then we come to my absolute favourite Metallica song, the apex of their progressive thrash album. It's nearly ten minutes of sheer brilliance, trumping "Master of Puppets" in the tempo changes department and trumping everything save maybe "Fight Fire", "Dyers Eve", and "Disposable Heroes" in pure metal intensity. From the acoustic opening that rises dramatically to shattering crescendo before plunging down to a lone bass drum solo, to the buzz-sawing riff that precedes the chorus to the...this could take a while. Anyway, it features some of James's most politically conscious and highly effective tirades, this time aiming at the justice (duh) system. Kirk breaks out his best "Breaking the Law"-alike solo, a simple but effective reprisal of the main riff that sticks in your mind. And then we start to wind down, fading into the black...but WAIT! That unstoppable drum drags back that headbanging riff and we're back into it for one last go. I am a sucker for drama, and the way this song jerks you around and draws you in is like no other band. Perfect, grand, Metallica.

"Eye of the Beholder" is one of the more simple songs on the album, and thus it became a single. Oddly reminds me of "Leper Messiah", probably because it's a very similar tirade. Some call this number tossed off, but I beg to differ. It's one of the underrated Metalli-classics, the "Disposable Heroes" of this record.

Ah. And now we come to the most controversial song on the album. Some call it the best thing Metallica wrote. The others call it derivative and unworthy of the legacy of "Fade" and "Welcome Home". They are wrong. The acoustic solos at the outset are nearly (although they are a little too noodly) a match for "Fade", and the lyrics are even better. How disturbing is that idea anyway? Unable to move, simply drawing in breath after breath in anguish, completely lacking the ability to speak and even the option of death taken away� Imagine it, or better yet just listen to the song. James conveys it pretty damn well. Then we get the machine gun riff, the quintessential thrash riff. James barks out a pair of "black as night" choruses before making an impassioned scream for help along the lines of the "Master" fade out. This is chilling stuff, a harrowing tale of anguish handled with a maturity and skill that puts a whole genre called black metal to shame.

And how does one follow "One"? If you're most bands, with filler. If you're Metallica, you release a devastating napalm thrasher that would give most good players fits. James writes a real tongue-twister lyric, then proceeds to bark it out over a tricky riff with some nice melodic bits. It almost feels too loaded up, and the absence of bass it palpable, but all is forgiven when James becomes perhaps the first musician to ever use the word "nadir" in a song.

"Harvester of Sorrow" is probably the best live song in the bands repetoire, right up there with "Creeping Death". It's a dead simple core, with some solid proggy window dressing and a stomping drum beat that really makes one want to rock their way into a neckbrace. Some of James's best lyrics (I keep saying that don't I?) here. "Look deep into my eyes/You'll see where murder lies". How fucking metal is that?

Well, this is the weakest track on the album, but that still makes it better than 90% of the stuff out there. I love the rumbly intro, and the solo is nice. The opening is a little bland, but the middle sections are nice head-bangers. "Frayed Ends of Sanity" is fatally uneven, almost like "Hanger 18" (not as good though) in that it's a very bland, mid-level thrash song that masks a god-like breakdown, one of Metallica's most technically demanding (and therefore rarely played) musical sections. It contains a lot of unconventional stuff, from the total Megadeth-y twin lead to the jolting staccato chunk metal that just builds up and up and lifts off.

Ah, the grandiose instrumental piece. It doesn't disappoint. "To Live is to Die" is sort of the logical apex of the prog-thrash experiment, with numerous tempo changes, interesting approaches, and even a very arty little Burton quote read oh so metally by James. Some soothing bits, some skull-crushing bits, another great Metallica instrumental, and also the longest track committed to record. Be sure the complexity and length of this one rubbed off on the next wave of proggers and thrashers. It features such alien beauty, Metallica playing sombre riffs with an aching sense of sorrow not found anywhere else save for perhaps "Fade to Black". It's also oddly Floydian, except amped up x10000 and without the dressy production.

And now we finish with the biggest piece of shrieking aggression Metallica ever wrote. This thing could kick a nice hole in a Slayer record or three, and the drumming is so crazy Lars can't even do it live... not that that really says all that much mind you. James breaks out the cussing once more for dramatic effect, and lyrically it's the most simplistic lyrics present. Doesn't detract from its awe-inspiring headbanging might.

Incredible, unparalleled stuff, and although you might hear different, the streak would continue onto the next record.

Stand-Out Tracks: "...And Justice For All", "Harvester of Sorrow", "One"

Overlong and boring. - 54%

Nightcrawler, December 29th, 2003

A big 'meh' is what I give this album. Metallica's fourth full-length album, and the last in the line of their legendary albums- the time when they were not sellouts (although they did a music video for One despite claiming a few years earlier that they'd never make one). And this is no MTV bullshit, this is extremely metal, it's just also extremely boring for the most part.

The average song length on "...And Justice For All" I'd guess is around 7 minutes, and with only two out of nine songs below six minutes length, this album just feels overlong and nearly all the songs seem unnecessarily extended. The thing is, having long songs is in itself not a bad idea, but what we have here is mostly 5 or 6 minute songs extended with forgettable middle sections and dumb repetition of both vocal lines and overtechnical riffs. "The Frayed Ends of Sanity", the title track and "The Shortest Straw" among others all fall into the category, and so does of course the instrumental "To Live Is To Die", which is even more boring than "The Call of Ktulu". Way more boring.

There are still a few good songs that keep it from being a complete waste. The opening track "Blackened" features some nice semi-melodic and occasionally strangely timed speed/thrash metal riffwork and catchy vocals, and doesn't really get overlong despite reaching a length of 6:40. Easily the highlight of the album. "One" of course ain't bad either, but it's bloody overrated. The mellow first couple of minutes are pretty damn lame. The "hold my breath as I wish for death" part sounds promising, but they never do anything with it. When this dreary crap ends and the song gets going we get some kickass material however- the double bass driven thrashy bridge is very cool.

And then there is one more really good song on here, and that is the closer "Dyer's Eve". Some of the riffs make it sound like a follow-up to "Damage, Inc", but the intensity and quality is nowhere near that classic. This still has some nice thrashing moments, the main riff especially is very fun. The kinda melodic bridge - "Innocence torn from me without your shelter" - is very solid too.

But the other songs just fall into the category 'mediocre'. Most songs have their fun moments - the title track is kinda catchy all over, but way too fucking long. "Eye of the Beholder" has very memorable verses, but boring music all through. Also, "The Frayed Ends Of Sanity" has some really fun backing vocals and riffs during the opening. But after a while, all of this stuff gets really boring.

Another reason for why the album is such a disappointment after the three classics "Kill 'Em All", "Ride The Lightning" and "Master of Puppets", is of course the production. Barely any audible bass at all if you don't listen very, very closely, and the drum sound is thin and worthless. Better than that of "St. Anger", but still worthless. And on the drumming, Lars continues to suck, on this release managing to be schizophrenic and repetitive at the same time.

Eventually, this album does little to nothing for me aside for a few good moments here and there. Metallica should've disbanded when Cliff died, cause after his departure their music sucked.

Surprisingly good in some parts - 80%

CrowTRobot, July 21st, 2003

We've all heard the story thousands of times. Cliff died in a tragic accident, and supposedly, Metallica's heart went with him.

However, I don't necessarily think that's the case. Metallica still showed some great potential with this 1988 release, in my opinion. They could have easily pursued this direction with their music into the 90's, but as we all know, the atrocious Black Album forced an uneasy sense of "what the hell happened"? onto Metallica fans everywhere. What happened between the release of this album and the period prior to their infamous 1991 release will surely be a topic of discussion for years to come...

Anyway, onto the subject at hand. "...And Justice for All" succeeded in pushing the progressive elements of Metallica's sound to the forefront, while still maintaining their thrashier sound from the first three albums. This isn't your father's Metallica, however. Gone are the cliched metal lyrics of "Kill em All", and in their stead are contemplative pieces that succeed in revealing aspects of the band that were previously unknown to their audience. "Justice is lost, justice is raped, justice is done"? Well, what do we have here? Political commentary, or something more? I have no idea.

But what I do know, is that Metallica's playing sounds tighter than ever, albeit not as invigorating as "Ride the Lightning" or "Master of Puppets". Especially since Jason Newsted's bass is barely audible throughout the entire ordeal. What the hell? I pay very close attention to certain aspects of music, and bass is definitely one of them. This probably pissed me off more than the incredibly useless addition of the third track on the album "Eye of the Beholder". Filler I tell you!! Don't fret, however, since the infamous hit song "One" follows soon after. "One" is the type of song that takes time to build up, and then completely blows the listener away at the end. Not too shabby.

As for the rest of the album, "Harvester of Sorrow", the Cliff tribute "To Live is to Die", and the relentless "Dyers Eve" stand out as incredible numbers. All in all, this album is well worth your time and effort, especially if you're willing to work your way back through the band's discography. Metal fans are decidedly split when it comes to liking this album, but just ignore the hype and take a listen for yourself.

My favourite album of all time - 100%

raZe, January 16th, 2003

Cliff Burton, the bass genious of Metallica, died in a bus accident in late '86, and some people feel that Metallica died with him. Of course, that's a big pile of bollocks, if you ask me. Jason Newkid proved he was a worthy replacement with "Garage Days Re-Revisited". Unfortunately, though, the bass sound on "...And Justice For All" is virtually non-existent. I don't know how Metallica managed to fuck up the sound like that, but production isn't everything. The fact is, this album is the best album ever! Even despite a somewhat weak production, it stands above anything else released by anyone else.

Even people who think "Master of Puppets" is Metallica's last good album, think that opener 'Blackened' is a masterpiece. It starts with lead-guitars played backwards, before a mighty riff comes into display. Hetfield's vocals are more brutal than ever, and the song is one of their more pissed off ones. The chorus and verses are excellent, and the slower middle section features some excellent riffage with Hetfield screaming advanced English words over it. The solo, preluded by nice twin leads, is one of Metallica's best. It's quite lenghty, as it goes on over three different rhythm sections, and technically advanced as well. Probably the best 'tallica opener there is. It's a close call between this and 'Battery'. The title track, clocking in at 9:46, is actually only the second longest song. It starts with beautiful accoustic guitars, before the tum-tum-tum section starts. This is one of Lars' coolest moments. Again, there are some damn heavy twin leads, executed with brilliant feeling. Hetfield finally begins to sing after some 2 minutes. As with most of the material on "...And Justice For All", the lyrics deal with social issues, like the government, greed, and hypocrisy. Some people may feel the song is too long, but I wouldn't care even if it lasted twice as long, it's that good. The Hammett lead is again great, playing over some very nice Hetfield riffs. There are so many different riffs in each song, it's scary. On it goes, with different tempos, riff changes, small solos, and twin leads, making it a very complex song. The end section is brilliant, where the twin leads again is played, finishing the song with style.

'Eye of the Beholder' is quite an underrated Metallica song. To me, it's perfect. It's mid-tempo, with lots of cool riffs, great lyrics, a nifty solo, and solid drumming. Trivia: most of the songs on this album features multiple-layered guitars, making them just that more hard to figure out when trying to play them on guitar. Besides from that, it really adds to the songs. For example, the accoustic guitar intro for the title track has FOUR guitars in it! No wonder I didn't get it! 'One' is the best song on the album, Metallica's best song, and the best song in the world ever. Not bad. It starts with the familiar war noises, which is quickly followed by a beautiful accoustic intro, not as advanced at the title track's one, but just as good. It's a semi-ballad, Hetfield almost sings, actually. Only almost, though. 3:50 into the song it gets heavier, and soon enough Lars starts with some exquisite double-bass drumming. This section is brilliant, with Hetfield screaming out his horrors. Then the song is suddenly fast. The solo is probably Hammett's best yet. Then there's a fucking superb twin guitar riff, which almost makes me...well, no details needed, eh? One word describes the song perfectly: Orgasmic. Such a cool word, too! The song ends abruptly, when the machine gun-like riffs and awesome drumming stops.

'The Shortest Straw' is a fast song, very aggressive and headbang-inducing. It also features a wicked riff which sound cool. The mid-section features more double-bass drumming and a lead guitar solo which is just fantastic in its wickedry. So comes what I think was the first single from the album, 'Harvester of Sorrow'. This is a very slow song, but still very heavy. Lars' drumming in the intro is just weird, while the main riff is so cool and attitude-filled I want to slowly headbang my wits out. "Drink up/shoot in/let the beatings begin" Classic line number 104 from this album. For the other classic lines, look in the booklet. Now for the weakest track of them all, the excellent 'Frayed Ends of Sanity'. It's not often I use "weak" and "excellent" about a song in the same sentence, but it's true. It's not perfect, but somehow still great. The track is quite fast-flowing, with just small doses of tempo-changes. The Hammett lead is excellent.

The next to last track is 'To Live Is To Die'. The title, and the small poem in the middle of this instrumental, is based on things Cliff Burton said while he was still alive. It begins with an accoustic intro which eventually fades out, giving way to a badass riff and slow rhythm, which has this numbing, sad feel. It's no doubt this song works both as a tribute to Cliff, and as an outlet for the remaining members' grief and sorrow for their loss. There are many different leads throughout, each great in its own way. 4:31 into the song comes the best part. It's this tragically, beautiful twin lead play, which transforms into lo-fi accoustic guitars. It's enough to make you cry. The solo which eventually comes, just adds the the enormous feeling of loss. Then the rhythm guitar kicks in again, with more twin leads. Actually, they are more like triple leads, they sound so complex. 7:32 the main riff starts again, and Hetfield speaks a poem, which goes like this:

"When a man lies
He murders a part of the world
These are the pale deaths
Which men miscall their lives
All this I cannot bear to witness any longer
Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home"

Whether Cliff wrote that, or Hetfield added to what Cliff had once said, I don't know, but it's powerful stuff. The song goes on for another couple of minutes. Nearer the end the rhythm guitar fades out, and the accoustic guitars which was present at the beginning of the song comes in again. When it suddenly ends, it's right into the last song of the album, 'Dyers Eve'. This is the opposite of 'To Live..', being really thrashy and fast. It's in fact the only Metallica song Metallica are uncapable of playing live! This is because of the double-drumming in the verses, which Lars actually didn't perform all the way through. He just played a few seconds, and pasted it where appropriate. Well, as thrash goes, this is thrash perfected. It's so pissed off, desperate and fast, you just have to love it. A great way to end this very complex album. 9 songs. 65:25 minutes. That's some long songs.

It takes time to fully appreciate this album, God knows I needed time (one and a half years, to be exact), but you will be rewarded. This is my favourite album of all time, and it will probably stay that way the rest of my life. Thanks for reading.