...And Justice For All

Metallica

Elektra Records, 1987

http://www.metallica.com

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/14/1998

I am a huge Metallica fan and this is my favorite CD of all time. Bet you can't guess what rating I'm giving it.

...And Justice For All came at a critical time in this band's career. Today, it can be seen as the pivotal disc between the "old" Metallica, who liked to admit to being a heavy metal band, and the "new" Metallica, who like to deny they have anything to do with the genre of heavy metal.

Musically, this divisionn is clear cut. Their first discs, starting from 1983's Kill 'Em All and continuing through this CD, featured an increased awareness rhythm guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich songwriting style. These early songs are built around a rhythm guitar and drums and, perhaps because of that, lend themselves to intricate melodies and harmonies.

Consider "Eye of the Beholder" which is in 4/4 time except for occasional measures of 5/4 time. Consider "Blackened" which is in 6/4 time.

The breakthrough video for the band came from the song "One" which happenes to be in ¾ time, the same signature as most waltzes, until the thrashy part of the song at the end.

It also marked the first disc for new bassist Jason Newsted who, yet today, bitches about his bass sound. In a recent Metal Edge magazine, he was asked, "If you could do one thing over again, what would it be?" His response was to have a better bass sound on this disc. Sigh. This album is just under 10 years old and he hasn't gotten over it?? The other important note about his appearance is that the band's second bassist (c'mon, who was their first?) Cliff Burton had just passed away in a bus accident in Europe.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

On another note, this album marked the end of the "Metallica all-out thrasher" track that had been on every album previously. On Kill 'Em All, it was "Whiplash." On Ride The Lightning, it was "Fight Fire with Fire" and on Master Of Puppets, it was "Battery." They did go out with a bang. The last track, "Dyer's Eve" is an uptempo, quick five minutes. To my knowledge, the band has never reproduced this song live. The lyrics are blatant "Go to hell Mom and Dad" and Hetfield is ferocious in these opening lyrics:

Dear mother, dear father

What is this hell you have put me through

Believer, deceiver

Day in day out live my life through you

Pushed onto me what's wrong or right

Hidden from this thing that they call life

Not since this song has Hetfield opened his heart to his inner turmoil and he is at his best on this track.

And we can't forget the lyrics on this disc either. Hetfield is given credit for all of them and, not since this disc, has he achieved as high of a level of intelligent lyrics. He went downhill from here with Metallica's "Your brain is still gelatin" (from one of the few songs never pushed, "Holier Than Thou", Load (the whole damned thing) and Re-Load (the whole damned thing).

This is an intense disc with a lot of ear candy for those who like intelligent heavy metal. Probably my favorite Metallica song of all is on this album. No, not "One." It's a track called "The Frayed Ends of Sanity." You'll know when you get to it because you'll recognize the chant from "The Wizard of Oz" movie. At 7:40 for length, it's not too long, and not too short - it's just right. Guitarist Kirk Hammett is so "there" with his lead and Hetfield's relatively simple riff is captivating. Ulrich is utterly amazing with his double bass fills and quick cymbal work.

I'd encourage you to find this disc and give it a couple of spins, especially if you only discovered Metallica with "the black album" or Load or even Re-Load. The arguments about this band "selling out" have grown fierce for the last 7 years when Metallica came out. I've viewed a couple "Metallica sucks" web pages (which I think just proves that those webmasters have all of my spare time) as well as pages that have declared "Metallica is the GREATEST band EVER!!!!!!!!!!" (That's a direct quote). To get both sides of the story, these newcomers to the band need to hear the pre- Metallica discs.

Of course, I suggest starting with this one.

Rating: A

User Rating: A-


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© 1998 Paul Hanson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.