THE BAND: James Hetfield (lead vocals, guitar), Kirk Hammett (guitars), Lars Ulrich (drums & percussion), and new member Jason Newsted (bass) formerly of Flotsam And Jetsam (replacing Cliff Burton, R.I.P.).
THE DISC: (1988) 9 tracks clocking in at approximately 65 minutes. Included with the disc is a 10-page booklet containing song titles/credits, song lyrics, band pictures, one ‘gavel’ drawing containing band member faces, and thank you’s. This is Metallica’s 4th studio album. All songs written by Hetfield, Hammett, Ulrich and/or Newsted. Recorded at One On One Studios, Los Angeles, CA. This would be Flemming Rasmussen’s last album produced with the band (Bob Rock would follow). The Japanese (import) version contains a bonus track – a Diamond Head cover, “The Prince”. Label – Elektra.
COMMENTS: “…And Justice For All” was the last classic Metallica album of the 80’s. It was also their final attempt at thrash metal (once the 90’s rolled around and producer Bob Rock entered the picture, the band took a more “mainstream” metal approach). The majority of songs are long with complex riffs… borderline progressive. Let me first say that for years, this disc sat on my shelf. I thought it was over-produced; I didn’t like Ulrich’s snare drum (sounded cheap and tinny) or his double bass (sounded shallow and metallic – partly due to a coin taped to the drum skin where the foot pedal hit); Newsted’s bass was nonexistent (the standard explanation for this combines Newsted’s absence from the mixing sessions where he could have voiced his opinion, and the lingering issue of his “newness” within the band following the death of Burton); there were three songs that I just could not get into (“Eye Of The Beholder”, “The Shortest Straw” and lightning fast “Dyers Eve”); and the articles I read about the 3 original band members hazing and not accepting newcomer Newsted was infuriating… call if fun, call it pranks, call it cruel – Newsted simply did not deserve this kind of treatment. Newsted (or anyone else who took the job) had two choices – put up with the crap or leave. From the outside looking in, Burton’s loss was tragic, but the way Hetfield/Ulrich/Hammett handled the situation afterwards seemed uncalled for. As far as “…And Justice For All” is concerned though, it’s taken a decade to grow on me and finally realize there are some brilliant songs here. In my opinion, “One” is one of Metallica’s finest songs in their entire catalog. “One” has an awesome slow beginning, tells a great story of an injured soldier, and ends in fine metal thrash form (not to mention one of the more memorable MTV videos)… all in all featuring great guitar work (intro, rhythm and solos). “Blackened” is an underrated gem of an opener. “To Live Is To Die” is the other masterpiece (almost 10 minutes long) – riffs and spoken words written by Cliff Burton (his last written testament) – this song has great riffs and 7 minutes of jamming before any vocals… reminiscent of something taken right off “Master Of Puppets”. The title track also resembles something from “Puppets”. “…And Justice For All” chart success – hitting #6 on Billboard’s “Top 200 Albums” from 1988, as well as the song “One” hitting #35 on Billboard’s Hot 100. There’s good and bad here… this album is still considered a classic and essential. If not only for the songs “One”, “Blackened” and “To Live Is To Die” (4 stars).