A band has to progress to get better. Everyone knows that. Metallica released Kill 'Em All
in 1983, and it was a fast and raw thrash metal album, but the band had to progress. In 1984, they released Ride The Lightning
, which was a huge step up from their debut album. Then, they released Master Of Puppets
, which just took Ride The Lightning
and made it better. But in September of 1986, the band's bassist Cliff Burton died in a bus accident. What was Metallica to do? They had to progress and move forward, and that's what they did on their next album, 1988's ...And Justice For All
...And Justice For All
is a fast, long, and angsty album. It's the band's most guitar-driven album, and the least bass-driven. The bass is barely audible. However, that does not mean that this is a bad album. It begins with Blackened
, one of the highlights of the album. This song basically sums up what the album will be like. Angry, fast, and of course, heavy. The lyrics deal with a grim subject matter, like a lot of Metallica songs, this one dealing with pollution and how the world is being "blackened". The song is fast and good, with a great solo. This is one of the shortest songs on the album, but it clocks in at 6:40. It goes by fast, and it seems like about three minutes.
Now, about that. The length of the album is a problem. It's not too big of a problem, because it's only for the title track, ...And Justice For All
. This is a decent track, because there aren't any problems with the verse and chorus and all that. The problem is with the solos. It's drawn-out and bloated. It seems as if it's there just because they like having the title track being long or something like that. This clocks in at 9:44! A good epic metal song should at least have some tempo changes. Take Iron Maiden's Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
for example. That is a classic song because it's not just soloing and the same riff and formula throughout. It has plenty of tempo changes. AJFA however is just fast throughout. Many riffs are repeated over and over ten to fifteen times, and then we have a wild solo out of nowhere.
Eye Of The Beholder
is a great song however. It's the perfect length. The solos? Not too long, they're just right. This track has some decent vocals. James Hetfield's singing abilities don't exactly shine on this track, but the guitar does. This actually has a change in riffs or two. This track is a highlight. One
is also a great song, and it too is one of the better songs on the album. It deals with a dark subject matter, and the lyrics are well-written, so it proves that the band could still write good lyrics after Cliff Burton died. This song is heavy in some parts and slow and melodic in other. This song is pretty slow, but it also has some very fast parts. Great song. The Shortest Straw
comes next, and it's a good song, but it follows the same formula that pretty much every song on the album has. Riff, verse, chorus, solo, yada yada yada. Of course, the guitar is superb. Harvester Of Sorrow
is a very good song, but like The Shortest Straw
, it follows the recycled formula.
The Frayed Ends Of Sanity
is a very good track though, and it is much better than the previous two tracks. It begins with a doom-ish sounding riff, and an almost GWAR-sounding "oooh" sound. This is a fast track with some excellent guitar, and the drumming is good as well. Vocally, this is one of the better tracks. What comes next is one of the best Metallica instrumentals ever. To Live Is To Die
is an excellent track, as well as the longest on the album, clocking in at nine minutes and forty-eight seconds. It isn't fully instrumental, but I still consider it an instrumental song. The only verse in it is just some talking, and not actual singing. The guitar is fast and furious, and Kirk Hammett just shows off his guitar abilities. Even the drumming is very good. This would have been a very good track to end the album on, but there is Dyer's Eve
. It has the formula of the two middle tracks, but this is still a very good track, but it seems like they just threw this one in to make the album longer. The instrumental would have been a better closer to this.
Overall, ...And Justice For All
is a very good album, but it's pretty much ruined by the fact that it's just too long. The musicianship is excellent as far as guitar and drums, but like I said before, the bass is barely audible. Some songs are just drawn-out and bloated, and some songs just follow a generic formula with the same riff repeated a bunch of times. This album is not
bad, but it's true. Cliff Burton with Metallica is just better.
+ Good drumming
+ Good vocals
+ Stellar guitar
+ Cover art
- Title track
- Some songs are bloated