After an extended layoff period and a classic `covers’ ep, Metallica returned with a vengeance on AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. All the anger and sadness they held in on the death of bassist Cliff Burton was unleashed on the record buying public. The album is full of seething vocals and complex chord and tempo changes, with melody at its centre. Lars Ulrich (drummer) and Kirk Hammet (lead guitar) have never played better. Unfortunately for new boy bassist Jason Newsted, the house producer Fleming Rasmussen buries his contributions way into the mix, so it sometimes sounds like he’s absent. However, this complaint aside, if you wish to hear some truly angry heavy metal way before `Rage Against The Machine’ raised its collective voice in protest, check out the true rage and beauty of this release.BLACKENED – Starting, as the two previous Metallica albums on a deceptively soft note, this anti -war track suddenly roars to life with a snarl at it’s heart, courtesy of James Hetfield. Jason Newsted’s bass sounds like a buzz saw as Hetfield’s spits out horror filled images: “Fire! To begin whipping dance of the dead”. The abrupt change of pace in the track’s middle only goes to prove what an impressive drummer Lars Ulrich can be. Kirk Hammet’s lead solo incredibly shows an improvement since the `Master of Puppets’ album. An intelligent update of the `Ride the Lightning’ leadoff track, `Fight Fire With Fire’.AND JUSTICE FOR ALL – Another soft build-up into a shout of protest. This time the target’s the buying off of justice and the corruption of the system. The chorus is a total damnation of the unfairness of it all. Lars pounds every part of his kit in a display of virtuosity that only some metal drummers can manage. This track may be around 9 minutes in length, but I guarantee you’ll be transfixed for that amount of time. “Hammer of justice crushes you, overpower . . .” Indeed.EYE OF THE BEHOLDER – A strident track decrying the erosion of freedom and rights.Again, the chorus grabs you by the throat and won’t let go.” Freedom . . . with their exception!” The beat on the track is very militaristic.ONE – The first Metallica song with an accompanying video. This has got to be my favourite Metallica song of all time. The tale of a soldier who has stepped on a land mine and now is an armless, legless, and blind vegetable. You can almost hear the desperation, the pain and the fury of being hooked up to a life support machine in Hetfield’s vocal performance. The track goes from heavy ballad to out- and-out thrash with a deft flick of the wrist. Kirk’s searing lead break and Ulrich’s machine gun drumming compliment the tune perfectly.SHORTEST STRAW – Powerhouse, fast paced monster about paranoia, ostracism, being the victim of witchhunts and blacklisting, and mental pressure. The one thing that’s a certainty on Metallica albums, are catchy choruses and `Justice . . .’ has plenty of those.HARVESTER OF SORROW – A lumbering evil tune about child abuse and how a victim can repeat what has happened to them on the next generation. The rhythm section sounds like an `Imperial Walker’ crushing all under foot. I especially like the `answer vocal’ on the chorus.FRAYED EDGE OF SANITY – Beginning with a musical in-joke (the band plays `The Guards’ March’ from `The Wizard Of Oz’) then revving up for a tale of paranoia sliding into mental illness. This is pure head banging material with a literate edge.TO LIVE IS TO DIE – A fitting epitaph to supreme bassist Cliff Burton (the lyrics are his), the band puts all they have into this mournful, melodic cruncher of an instrumental that ranks up there with `Pulling Teeth’, `Orion’ and `The Call Of Ktutlu’. May he always be sadly missed.DYER’S EVE – A thrash masterpiece to end the album. This is a scream of rage towards parents who dictate and censor without supplying love or encouragement. Hetfield’s voice spews venom and the track’s instrumentation is stabbing, relentless. One final roared, “Go!” and the album is finished; leaving you emotionally spent. What a musical ride.