It seems that many Metallica “fans” seem to enjoy putting this album down, for some reason. They claim that, with this album, Metallica lost their edge and sold out. Listening to this album, I’m wondering if we heard the same one. This album may not be quite as epic or technical as previous releases, but it’s every bit as thrashy, heavy, and good. This album was my introduction to Metallica a few years back, and I’ve never stopped loving it. The songs are full of crunch and vitriol, and the two ballads (“Unforgiven”, “Nothing Else Matters”) are very emotional and melodic. There are still a lot of great solos, and Lars still dishes out some pretty impressive drumwork (especially on “The Struggle Within”). The production quality is excellent (probably the best of all their albums), so every instrument is distinct and hard-hitting. There are no bad songs, but if you want to hear a great one, check out “The Unforgiven”. This is one of the best ballads ever, with very emotional lyrics and a great vocal performance from James Hetfield. If you love heavy metal and do not love this album, there is probably something wrong with you. I rank this album third, behind “Ride the Lightning” and “Master of Puppets”, and one of my top 20 favorite albums. It’s better than “And Justice for All” mainly because of the production quality, and better than “Kill Em All” because that album is too repetitive and rough around the edges (but still very good, mind you), and well, do I even need to explain why it’s better than “Load” and “Reload”? The simple fact of the matter is that Metallica was still a great band at this time, and did not sell out with this album. This album was much heavier and better than anything else that was popular at the time (except for Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell”). “Load” and “Reload” were the ones where the music changed for the worse, but even those albums weren’t so bad. If Metallica ever did sell out, it wasn’t until the awful “I Disappear”. If they ever get another bass player, and Hetfield ever gets out of rehab, let’s hope they stop doing that kind of stuff and go back to the basics. Megadeth and Iron Maiden already made incredible returns to form with “The World Needs a Hero” and “Brave New World”, if Metallica does another album like this, then metal is officially back. Otherwise, they may as well just call it quits. Anyway, buy this album, it is one of the best.