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

METALLICA — ...And Justice for All album cover Album · 1988 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
This was a new era for METALLICA who single handedly catapulted thrash metal into the mainstream with their breakthrough album “Ride The Lightning” and had built up a steady stream of new followers with every subsequent tour. Hardly recovered from losing their bassist Cliff Burton who perished in a fatal bus crash in 1986 during their “Master Of Puppets” tour, their popularity continued to grow exponentially even overshadowing the main acts on such venue arena shows as Monsters Of Rock (such as Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken). After finding a replacement in former Flotsam & Jetsom bassist Jason Newsted, METALLICA charged forth into the recording studio and unleashed their fourth as well as one of their most successful hard charging albums of their 80s thrash metal years with …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.

On this release James Hatfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and newbie Newsted forged one of the most demanding and progressive albums of their career which in many respects paved the way for the technical thrash and death metal offshoots of the 90s and beyond before METALLICA themselves would devolve into just another alternative band, however on this one they were at their commercial peak as JUSTICE was the true breakthrough album that sent their very uncommercial album into the stratosphere of the public consciousness and became their biggest selling album to date. Always ones to buck the trend, METALLICA never released videos but until the creation of their single “One,” which not only shot up the charts on MTV on their metal oriented Head Bangers Ball but through sheer sales alone, the single charted in the top 40 on the Billboard singles showing their true power propelled by the fans alone with little radio play to support it.

This album has always been somewhat of a divisive one in terms of the production department as it went against the grain in not veering into the overly slick artiness that was the norm with the glam and pop oriented metal bands of the era (such as Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Poison etc.) Although I hear a lot of complaining about the production of this album, I have to say that I quite like it and IMHO it delivers a unique sound unlike any other album ever recorded. It's important to remember that there was a backlash to overproduced albums in the late 80s with the success of slick studio albums from Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Poison etc. I personally fall into the camp of those who loves the production utilized on JUSTICE. While being a sophisticated pseudo-prog thrash album compositionally speaking, the filthy muddy production retains the angry garage metal roots and offers the best aspects of both sides of the metal universe.

Therefore i really believe that Metallica intended this to have a more lo-fi sound that would keep them sounding underground even if they were becoming one of the biggest names on the planet. Something about the theme and lyrical content about the lack of justice that lend an oppressive sound to the whole thing. The sounds of the guitars and bass as one super-instrument (a common complaint is that you can’t hear the bass) somehow imply that when justice is denied, no one has his own voice. The album despite being a huge success (the album eventually went on to sell 8 million plus copies) still retains the primeval punk infused righteous anger while hosting some of the most interesting musical constructs ever laid down in the metal universe. A remastered album is planned for 2018 and there have been so called “fan corrections” that add a separate bass line but after listening to these imposed constructs, i always conclude that the methodology sounds like what the BLACK ALBUM would sound like.

While it's really hard for me to pick a favorite album from METALLICA (only 3 contenders), this one may be the one i've listened to the most. It was the first album I actually owned from them and I have listened to this more times than I can count to the point of being sick of it years ago!However all i have to do is put this in and push play and remember why this easily ranks as one of my favorite albums of all time and is one that stands the test of time and despite the universe of metal that has been created since it’s release. AND JUSTICE FOR ALL remains one of the most sophisticated yet roots oriented metal masterpieces that has ever been recorded. Master of puppets, no more. This is where METALLICA broke free from the confines and limitations of all the underground limitations of the day and paved the way for the flood of extreme metal acts to follow in their wake. Not only a pioneering album that is historically relevant but musically worthy of a top notch designation for high quality concepts, instrumental prowess and passionate delivery.
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