METALLICA — ...And Justice for All (review)

METALLICA — ...And Justice for All album cover Album · 1988 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
AtomicCrimsonRush
One of the most revered metal albums of all time is also one of the first forays into progressive metal.

Metallica excel on this album both musically and lyrically. Each track is given a progressive treatment unlike anything before. Some of the tracks run for over 9 minutes and this was not a regular occurrence in metal during the height of its power in the 80s - the metal years. Metallica proved themselves as musical virtuosos and every band member absolutely shines on this release. From screaming intricate lead breaks to complex bass and drum arrangements that set the metronome off the scale, this is a work of pure genius, and the pinnacle of Metallica's meteoric rise to metal power. It is impossible to find one standout track as each track holds its own compelling authority as classics. With a running length of an hour the album became legendary as a metal epic. The tracks have become part of history as the most influential and dynamic in the genre. And yes, there are enough progressive elements here to quench the appetite for the most insatiated prog metal fanatic. We have the blistering power metal of 'Blackened' which starts this metal journey.

Then the band launch into '...and Justice for All', with all its time shift changes and themes of social injustice, is reminiscent of the best of prog from the 70s, but injected with an edge of chaotic pentameter rather than iambic, with its metrical pattern changes and large scale construction, at over 9 minutes long.

'Eye of the Beholder' is a frenzy of pounding drums and booming bass that drive the track relentlessly to scintillating lead work and crunching guitar riffing.

'One' became a single, albeit a 7 minute one that begins very slowly and with moments of tranquil acoustic melancholy. This leads the way to the awesome brutal riffs in the instrumental section and then Hetfield screams:

Darkness imprisoning me All that I see Absolute horror I cannot live I cannot die Trapped in myself Body my holding cell Landmine has taken my sight Taken my speech Taken my hearing Taken my arms Taken my legs Taken my soul Left me with life in hell

The lyrics has appeared on the back of Metallica T shirts and reinforces the power of the track that remains an absolute classic - the topic is simple - the disposable heroes of the war, the men who suffered without a cause, are the victims and their life is useless once they return from the horror of war. A theme that surfaces again and again in Metallica and other metallers. These are heavy handed themes to be sure, but the point was to sell it as fast and as brutal as necessary. Metallica were not interested in making a difference to history, they were revitalising the injustice of history in the minds and hearts of rock devotees worldwide. The film clip that accompanies it is honest and powerful and worth checking out.

Where do you go from here? Catchy riffs and big ideas in 'The Shortest Straw'. What is it about?

Shortest straw Challenge liberty Downed by law Live in infamy Rub you raw Witchhunt riding through Shortest straw This shortest straw has been pulled for you

'Nuff said. Liberty and injustice for all was Metallica's main drive behind this album. They continue wonderfully with 'Harvester of Sorrow' with one of the best riffs you are likely to hear. An undisputed classic, with a huge wall of sound that drives headlong to its ultimate conclusion. The structure of these tracks are incredible.

Next is the 'The Frayed Ends of Sanity' another long track accentuated by a remarkable lead break from Hammett.

'To Live Is to Die' is another 9 minute treasure with more prog aspects and a very inspiring instrumental section. It all ends with the pacey 'Dyers Eve' and when it is all over you want to play it again.

This is an irresistible album, full of the drawing power of brutal riffs, that crawl at some points and build velocity and momentum at others, and it is all complimented by compelling lyrics. One of the best prog metal albums you will hear.
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