Metallica …And Justice For All : Album Review

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 With very few noticeable verse-chorus structures, long, complex songs and ever changing, fast tempos, Metallica …And Justice For All is probably the most progressive Metallica album ever recorded. Most songs in the album have multiple sections, lengthened guitar rhythms, vocals joining without warning, and strange tempos at some parts. At the first listen, these tracks may appear disjointed. However, they are essentially Metallica turning heavy metal into its purest form: organized mayhem, sharp-as-knife lyrics and guitar, and deliberately unusual drum beats.

“…And Justice For All” focused mainly on politics, social injustice, censorship and warfare. “Eye of the Beholder” serves as a cry for political freedom, transparency and justice. “Blackened” rings like an ominous bell signaling the start of the end of the world, starting with man’s self-destruction. “One” revolves around a soldier’s misfortune, while “Harvester of Sorrow” speaks of a man’s pain descending into madness and cruelty:

Photo: By Saad Faruque from Bangalore, India (IMG_9265.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“My life suffocates

Planting seeds of hate

I’ve loved, turned to hate

Trapped far beyond my fate

…Harvester of Sorrow

Language of the Mad.”

 

The songs in this album have moderate tempos sandwiched with fast, double-pedaled transitions, sometimes slowing down in the middle, for instance in the song “…And Justice For All”, giving a nice variation and showcasing the band members’ ability to play in fast-changing tempos. The fact that all the songs in this album are more than 5 minutes long- with “To Live Is to Die” towering at 9 minutes 48 seconds- doesn’t make this album lengthy, or stop Metallica from rocking these songs live.

The song “One”, subsequently becoming one of the most popular Metallica songs, starts with a beautifully overdubbed clean guitar track, and develops into powerful riffs coupled with shredded arpeggios, which eventually grows into machine gun guitar rhythm near the end. Topped with thunderous bass and bass drums like bullets, the result is a 7-minute monster of a track. The dual guitar section by Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield at the very end would eventually become one of the most expected performances in Metallica concerts. No wonder this song won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1990.

One of the slowest songs in the set, “Harvester of Sorrow”, runs at a rather unusually mellow 98 bpm. “To Live is To Die”, the instrumental track, has a beautifully (and deceptively) bright acoustic intro, only to usher in razor-sharp distortion and ominous guitar taps later.

 

Final words

“Metallica …And Justice For All  is a Metallica staple and a metal must-listen if you want to learn what thrash at its purest sounds like: progressive, almost un-categorizable, and rock solid. With this album, Metallica showed the world the true potential of thrash and underground metal, a force to be reckoned with.

Metallica …And Justice For All

Track list

  1. Blackened
  2. …and Justice for All
  3. Eye of the Beholder
  4. One
  5. The Shortest Straw
  6. Harvester of Sorrow
  7. The Frayed Ends of Sanity
  8. To Live Is to Die
  9. Dyers Eve

Written by Gin

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