Wednesday, 2 March 2011

CD Review: ...And Justice For All, by Metallica (1988)

Metallica tune new guy Jason Newsted's bass down to virtual silence, Lars Ulrich finds a drum kit that sounds as though it is made up entirely of snares, and remarkably, the band produces what is likely the best thrash metal album of all time.

Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets capture the band in a more raw, younger and hungrier state. ...And Justice For All finds Metallica having to deal with the tragic death of Cliff Burton, and developing the maturity and experience needed to push the genre that they helped to invent to its final limit. The result is their most complete, most uniform, and most ambitious album.

No track on the album is shorter than five minutes, and only two are shorter than 6 minutes. One of those is CD closer Dyer's Eve, one of Metallica's most underrated tracks, a five minute strafing assault of precision guitar genius that simply cannot be any longer without causing injury.

At the other end of the album are the two classic tracks that open proceedings: Blackened and the title track ...And Justice For All will forever live together as one of the strongest double blasts ever to introduce an album, in total more than 16 minutes of epic thrash metal that yields to nothing in its speed, accuracy, energy and confidence.

One was Metallica's first video, and the track that exposed the band to a world audience for the first time. It is also a most sophisticated metal song, the music of building rage perfectly matching the story of a horribly mutilated war victim awaking to his fate, with a final exclamation mark consisting of an impossible, sustained warp speed guitar solo. To Live Is To Die is an instrumental, an homage of sorts to Cliff Burton, and a suitable ending to the trilogy of long instrumentals that started with The Call Of Ktulu on Ride The Lightning and continued with Orion on Master Of Puppets.

Kirk Hammett's lead guitar and Lars Ulrich's drums dominate the album, Metallica stripping down thrash to its absolute essence of controlled speed and commanding rhythm.

It is not a surprise that for the self-titled immediate follow-up, Metallica veered sharply into new directions. ...And Justice For All is a towering, dominant peak, and once conquered it is best to just move on.


James Hetfield - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Lars Ulrich - Drums
Kirk Hammett - Lead Guitar
Jason Newsted - Bass

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Blackened - 10
2. ...And Justice For All - 10
3. Eye Of The Beholder - 7
4. One - 10
5. The Shortest Straw - 9
6. Harvester Of Sorrow - 7
7. The Frayed Ends Of Sanity - 7
8. To Live Is To Die - 10
9. Dyers Eve - 10 *see below*

Average: 8.89

Produced by Metallica with Flemming Rasmussen.
Engineered by Flemming Rasmussen. Mixed by Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero.
Mastered by Bob Ludwig.

All Ace Black Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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