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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » Metallica - 1988 ...And Justice For All
Metallica - 1988 ...And Justice For All

ARTIST: Metallica
ALBUM: ...And Justice For All
LABEL: Elektra
SERIAL: 60812-1 (2LP), E2 60812 (CD)
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 1995, Elektra, 9 60812-2 (reissue, remaster), plus many more..


LINEUP: James Hetfield - vocals, guitar * Kirk Hammett - guitar * Jason Newsted - bass * Lars Ulrich - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Blackened * 02 ...And Justice For All * 03 Eye Of The Beholder * 04 One * 05 The Shortest Straw * 06 Harvester Of Sorrow * 07 The Frayed Ends Of Sanity * 08 To Live Is To Die * 09 Dyers Eve


When sitting down to review this album I coincidentally saw an article noting the 25th anniversary of its release, a fact which seems shocking somehow, the passing of time showing no remorse indeed. For Metallica it came at an uncertain time, with Cliff Burton having died in 1986 and been hastily replaced by Jason Newsted from perennial second division thrashers Flotsam And Jetsam. It was a massive trial by fire for Newsted and much has been made about the constant hazing he received from the band, something which would carry over to the recording of the new album. After the acclaim for 'Master Of Puppets' Metallica had started their climb into the upper levels of heavy metal and were indeed the thrash kings, so much was expected. The result was an album far removed from their opening trio of work, much more experimental and challenging, with lengthy compositions the focus. Flemming Rasmussen was retained as producer following some aborted sessions with Mike Clink and his production led to a mountain of questions that remain a talking point to this day.

The Songs
Analyzing this album could be viewed as challenging considering the almost progressive nature of the music, which is far from straight forward thrash. While indeed containing the thrash edict and ethics in image, riffs and attitude, there's only several tracks which could be labelled thrash, including 'Blackened', 'Dyer's Eve' and to a lesser extent 'The Shortest Straw'. The complex nature of the tracks probably confused a lot of people in 1988, with segments and tangents that mostly involved soloing by Hammett, who has his finest hour with the band here. What people seem to forget is the band were still in their early 20's, making this even more remarkable. It proved they were leagues ahead of their contemporaries, taking chances that seemed beyond their 'big four' counterparts in 1988. Consider Anthrax's weak 'State of Euphoria' and Megadeth's 'So Far, So Good.. So What?' disaster for example; both poor follow ups to previous albums which were viewed as instant classics. Where they both eschewed taking risks, Metallica seemed to thrive on it. The nine minute title track defines the album perfectly, political lyrics mixed with a harsh guitar tone and thudding, barely audible bass. The use of melody exceeded most thrash bands and this is done without ever using anything close to a thrash structure. It's tremendously spartan production wise and hardly an immediately accessible track. This is the template for 'Eye Of The Beholder' also, but the famous 'One' and its scathing take on war builds up to a speed metal finale, taking in some acoustic passages beforehand. As was the tradition in the early years an instrumental is included, the almost ten minute 'To Live Is To Die' another showcase for Hammett and some excellent guitar harmonies. Again the bass can be heard barely and this became one of metals all time controversies; was it done deliberately to haze Newsted further? Newsted in a recent interview said his bass frequencies were mixing with Hetfield's guitar tone so his parts were turned down in order not to interfere with Hetfield's. This view was also confirmed by Hammett. Oddly the lack of bass gives this album more of a charm and Ulrich's drum sound is by far his rawest, heard to great effect on 'Blackened'. No Metallica album has sounded like this since and it would be impossible to capture such a visceral sound ever again. There's no wasted notes during the 65 minute marathon and it's a shame a track like 'Frayed Ends Of Sanity' is all but forgotten by the band, the savage riffs and plundering rhythms among Metallica's best.

In Summary
'.. And Justice For All' became a landmark over time and is regarded far more highly than it was upon release, when it confused a lot of fans with its direction. It catapulted Metallica into superstars and they found themselves on Van Halen's Monsters of Rock tour that year, alongside Kingdom Come, Dokken and The Scorpions also. They also embraced the music video concept after saying they never would, their clip for 'One' becoming undoubtedly iconic in metal and a surprise hit for a band who radio would never have considered in 1988. It must have been staggering for the bands long-time fans to see Metallica achieving platinum status just five years after 'Kill 'Em All'. But in many ways this was the end of Metallica as those fans knew them. The thrash ideals were dispensed with by 1991 and although have returned in an altered state since, this was the death knell for the Bay Area Metallica beloved by so many. Thankfully 25 years hasn't dated this a jot, one of the best albums of the late 80's and a thrash milestone.

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