Metallica - ...And Justice for All

NME.COM feature on Metallica - ...And Justice for All album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.

Release date: 30 April 2009

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Metallica - ...And Justice for All: Wikipedia Album Entry

...And Justice for All is the fourth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica. Elektra Records released the album on August 25, 1988. This is the first Metallica studio album to feature bassist Jason Newsted, since it is the first after the tragic death of the group's former bassist Cliff Burton.

The album's dark subject material, featuring references to nuclear apocalypse, injustice in the law system, limited freedom, war, insanity and hate, is accompanied by the most complex song structures to this date in Metallica's discography. The album is also noted for its near lack of bass guitar and dry production and therefore has been called a "slightly flawed masterpiece and the pinnacle of Metallica's progressive years" by's reviewer.

The front cover depicts the statue of Lady Justice cracked and bound by ropes, with both of her scales filled with dollars and both of her breasts exposed. The words "…And Justice for All" are written in graffiti to the right. The cover is made by Stephen Gorman after a concept by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.

The album has sold over 8 million copies in the US alone according to the RIAA and was the best selling Metallica record upon its release. Metallica released four singles from …And Justice for All, "Eye of the Beholder", "Harvester of Sorrow", "…And Justice for All" and "One".


The production of the album is noted for its unusual, and at times "one-dimensional", post-production mix. The quality of the album's sound has been described as "cold", "thin" and "flat", due in part to the way the instruments were recorded. The bass drums don't "thud" so much as "click", while the guitars "buzz thinly". And, in one of the more famous of Hetfield and Ulrich's controversies with bassist Jason Newsted, the album's production almost completely lacks identifiable bass in most songs. This has been attributed to various reasons, such as Newsted's doubling of Hetfield's guitar parts, his absence from the mixing sessions (where he might have asserted his opinion) and the lingering issue of his "newness" within the band following the tragic death of Cliff Burton in September 1986. As said by the band in their magazine SO WHAT!, they wish that they could re-mix the entire album because the drums and guitar overpower the bass completely. The album was released on two LPs at the usual single-LP price, since the band thought that putting the album on a single record would have diminished its fidelity.

Lyrical themes

The lyrics on …And Justice for All discuss politics and social issues; however, lyricist James Hetfield is more direct than ever before in his views. At the same time, and despite Hetfield's aggressive singing style, the lyrics refrain from overt confrontation or ringing calls for revolutionary change. Instead, as drummer Lars Ulrich explained it, the ideas expressed in the lyrics merely represented "interests" of the band, and were meant largely to be "documentary" in nature. Important themes in the songs include destruction of Earth in "Blackened", injustice in the law system in "…And Justice for All", limited freedom in "Eye of the Beholder", war and locked-in syndrome in "One", cheating and lying in "The Shortest Straw", infanticide in "Harvester of Sorrow", insanity in "The Frayed Ends of Sanity", the death of Cliff Burton in "To Live Is to Die" and hatred of authority in "Dyers Eve".

Connections with other Metallica albums

The album continues the trends set by the previous albums Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets by having a fast paced, striking song with a melodic, slow intro as the first track, the title track as the second track, a slower, heavier track as the third track, a heavy metal ballad as the fourth track, a fast-paced track as the fifth track, a track slower than the fifth track as the sixth track, and an instrumental or mostly instrumental track as well as a fast, heavy song as the final tracks. However, in the case of this album, a song is added onto the structure ("The Frayed Ends of Sanity").

It has been noted by several people that the complexity of the songs on …And Justice for All was a direct reason for the more simple structures on Metallica's next album, The Black Album.'s reviewer Steve Huey also pointed out that …And Justice for All's unusual production may have led Metallica to a more "professional" producer, Bob Rock. It can be said that …And Justice for All marked the end of Metallica's thrash metal period, at least until their newest album, Death Magnetic.

Critical response

...And Justice for All was Metallica's breakthrough album and reached #6 in the Billboard charts. Though it would soon be over-shadowed commercially by the band's following album (1991's Metallica), this album nevertheless confirmed Metallica's large-scale arena status.

The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 1989, but with much controversy, it lost to Jethro Tull's Crest of a Knave. In 2007, the win was named one of the 10 biggest upsets in Grammy history by Entertainment Weekly.

In 1990, "One" received the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, as well as being Metallica's first Grammy Award.

The guitar solo of "One" was ranked #7 in Guitar World's compilation of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of all time.

The album was ranked at number nine in IGN's Top 25 Metal Albums.

Metallica released their first music video for "One", after years of resisting pressure to release videos for their tracks. The video incited controversy among their fans, who had valued the band's apparent opposition to MTV and other forms of mainstream commercial metal. "One" entered the Top 40 on March 25, 1989 at #35.

Live performances

Hammett noted the length of the songs being problematic for fans and the band. "Touring behind it, we realized that the general consensus was that songs were too fucking long," he said. "One day after we played 'Justice' and got off the stage one of us said, 'we're never fucking playing that song again.'"

In spite of this, the song "One" quickly gained a permanent fixture in the band's live playlist since the release of the album. The only other song from …And Justice For All that has come close to this is "Harvester of Sorrow," a song that was played live heavily after the album's release but has only begun to be played again recently.

16 years after "Dyers Eve" was recorded, on March 5, 2004, the band performed the song in its entirety for the first time ever on the Madly in Anger with the World Tour, at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, California.

On June 28, 2007, Metallica played the title track for the first time since October 1989, in Lisbon on the first show of their Sick of the Studio '07 tour and made it a set-fixture for the remainder of that routing. In 2008, "...And Justice for All" was played again during their 2008 Tour.

To date, "The Frayed Ends of Sanity" and "To Live Is to Die" remain the only songs from the album that have never been performed live in their entirety. Instead, the band played segments of them during solos or impromptu jams.

Along with "Dyers Eve", "To Live Is to Die" is one of the most demanded songs to be played live of Metallica's catalogue, it is unknown if Metallica will play this song live, due to the song being made up of deceased bassist Cliff Burton's final riff tapes.

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