Metallica
...And Justice for All


4.5
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (186 Reviews)
December 15th, 2012 | 560 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Top of its class! Well... almost.

Back when the name "Metallica" actually meant something to the metal community, there was a quadrilogy... a "tetrology" if you will... the four great champion albums of Metallica's otherwise polarizing body of work. Kill 'Em All was the raw attempt to kick the listeners' asses in a full-throttle riff fest; Ride the Lightning was the symbol of maturity, mixing aforementioned rawness with the air of progression; Master of Puppets is the magnum opus fans beheld as the climax, the absolute peak of the 80's metal movement. And where was ...And Justice For All in all of this excitement? In the annals of thrash history as their black sheep… for the 80’s, anyway (don’t even get me started on St. Anger or their more recent years).

While Master of Puppets presented a cleaner and more "developed" approach for the Metallica bandwagon, no one could have predicted the sudden change of pace their next album would bring. Even longer songs? Nearly nonexistent bass? An even more progressive approach to songwriting? Indeed, the album was an interesting departure from previous works, and despite the high sales of 8 million copies, many were poised to dislike it because of its oddities. In hindsight, however, this proved to be essential for the thrash band, harboring some of their best songs to date.

If there’s one thing that was always commendable about 80’s Metallica, or even in other Metallica records, it is the integration of honest emotional depth in their songwriting, and it shines in the best possible way here. Band staple “One” is perhaps the best example, combining building dynamics with extremely heartfelt lyrics about a soldier fighting in World War I (based on a book, mind you). The song has a real tendency to bring me to tears because of its subject matter and the emotional speed metal climax to close it off. Then there’s “To Live is to Die,” which barely uses any lyrics, but rather combines its interweaving guitar harmonies with multiple dynamic contrasts (mainly in the middle section in which Kirk’s guitar sound resembles two harmonizing violins) to get its point across. James Hetfield recites a poem near the end, symbolizing the loss of their previous bassist Cliff Burton and their mourning for him. This is a great example of what music is supposed to do; it should be able to tap into a listener’s feelings as if it’s an old friend that you can come back to anytime to share memories, whether happy or sad; it’s what makes us who we are today.

As if that wasn’t enough, the metal numbers are fantastic all the same. Songs like “Blackened” and “Dyers Eve” are the “Battery” and “Damage Inc.” of this record, ripping through your face as if it were tissue but still with fresh song structures and the occasional tempo change to boot. More variety is implemented as well, with “Harvester of Sorrow” having a slower groove than the usual thrash tune and “Eye of the Beholder” utilizing a strange mid-tempo atonal riff. Sure, “Blackened” used similar notation in its riff, but it was faster and much less noticeable. Just when you thought things were getting too conventional, the song slows down for a 12/8 section (once again tying in with that progressive style) and Hetfield starts singing in a more off-beat, syncopated fashion. It works, though, and keeps you wondering throughout.

Sadly, though, the lack of then-newcomer Jason Newsted in the bass department is quite disappointing. Supposedly, the band turned his bass volume all the way down so he wouldn’t overshadow Cliff’s playing, quite a controversial move on their part. While Newsted would get his big chance and succeed on The Black Album a few years later, the lack of bass here is disappointing, especially given the complexity of the record. Also, a few songs (especially the title track) have a tendency to drag a bit, occasionally creating a dull or repetitive moment where a solo or more varied section could have been added.

If that’s all that is wrong with this, though, that’s not saying a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. …And Justice For All is a true masterpiece in the thrash world (hell, even the metal world in general) and deserves the increasing praise it’s garnered in recent times. While it does have its clunky moments and flaws, the moments that are good are just flat-out triumphs. Honestly, those triumphs are exactly what makes this record work.

The good:

-Precise instrumentation
-Good emotional depth
-Well-composed riffs
-Great soloing
-Surprisingly solid drumming

The bad:

-Almost no audible bass
-Occasionally bloated

On this album, Metallica were:

James Hetfield – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, lead guitar
Lars Ulrich – drums
Kirk Hammett – lead guitar
Jason Newsted – bass



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Comments:Add a Comment 
NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
December 15th 2012


7127 Comments


Should that be [¡]st anger or[/i] in the first
paragraph.
Also if you can type 8 in a wall of text I'm sure
you can write 'eight' helps to stop it sticking out
like a sore thumb.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
December 15th 2012


7127 Comments


Reading the rest now, albums been done way too many times though.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
December 15th 2012


3540 Comments


Dude you've been streaking recently with these reviews, reading this now

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TheNotrap
December 15th 2012


8132 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

One of their greatest releases.
Nice work, have a pos.

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Brostep
Staff Reviewer
December 15th 2012


3540 Comments


I'll do some corrections since it's a very good review and doing so helps my own writing as well as gives a fresh perspective on yours. Have a pos, it's a very good review, but:

cleaner and yet more epic

This phrase means nothing to me.

A way more progressive approach to songwriting?

This sentence threw me for a second - it's a little bit jarring. Maybe delete the "way?"

is the integration of real emotional depth

I believe you need an "it" before the "is."

which barely uses any lyrics, but rather combines its interweaving guitar harmonies

The "but rather" here is incorrect I believe, you might want to go with "instead."

Kirk’s guitar sound resembled two harmonizing violins

Probably should be "resembles."

to get its point across

Congratulations on using "its" correctly!

symbolizing bassist Cliff Burton’s loss and their mourning for him.


Should probably be something like "symbolizing the loss of bassist Cliff Burton and the band's mourning for him," because now it sounds like Cliff Burton lost something.

Songs like “Blackened” and “Dyers Eve” are the “Battery” and “Damage Inc.” of this record, ripping through your face as if it were tissue but still with fresh song structures and the occasional tempo change to boot; more variety is implemented as well, with “Harvester of Sorrow” having a slower groove than the usual thrash tune and “Eye of the Beholder” being a strange mid-tempo atonal riff; sure, “Blackened” used similar notation in its riff, but it was faster and much less noticeable.

MASSIVE run-on sentence, fix plz kthx

it should be able to tap into a listener’s feelings as if it’s an old friend that you can come back to anytime to share memories, whether happy or sad; it’s what makes us who we are today.

Exactly. This is what music should be - a conveying of emotions and feelings. I agree completely.

which is a ridiculous move already

Doesn't really make much sense in the context, could use a slight edit or two.

Overall, very good review - this stuff is pretty nitpicky at times. Look forward to more stuff coming from you!

Ikarus14
December 15th 2012


557 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nicely written. Pros.

I agree with the bass. Had it been mixed properly this would have been perfect.

evilford
December 15th 2012


22980 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great review, pos'd

album rules

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
December 15th 2012


20155 Comments


Keep u the good work man you're officially one of my favorite reviewers.

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DominionMM1
December 15th 2012


10304 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice review

album's boring

Digging: Dr. John - Gris-Gris

YankeeDudel
December 15th 2012


9313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

shut it

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LegendofPittman
December 15th 2012


2958 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

SUSPICION IS YOUR NAME, YOUR HONESTY TO BLAME


The lyrics are horrible on this album, but the guitar and drums make up for it.

HorrorBusiness78
December 15th 2012


110 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Metallica's best.

thumbcrusher
December 15th 2012


3607 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great review

i wish it had the bass obviously but as compositions this is the best metallica album for me

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manosg
December 15th 2012


6692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The last great Metallica album. So fucking angry.

Digging: Witchfynde - Give 'em Hell

facupm
December 15th 2012


8570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

so fucking good

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
December 15th 2012


20155 Comments


nothing wrong with reviewing something that has a bunch of reviews already when it's written well like this

Geadom
December 15th 2012


2838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, pos. I agree with the cons, is what really stops this album for being flawless.

demon of surveillance
December 15th 2012


852 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There are torrents out there for versions with enhanced bass, it sounds incredible.

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sideburndude
December 15th 2012


2782 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

In its compositions this rocks
but if Jason played as he did in Flotsam and Jetsam it would have been a 5.

facupm
December 16th 2012


8570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah there's an album called "... And Justice for Jason", which includes all the nine songs with some enhanced bass. It sounds different, but still pretty cool.



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