Tuesday, April 19, 2011

And justice for all- Yearly visit


One of my most anticipated albums of 1988 was of course Metallica's And justice for all. I remember going to the local Sound Waves the day it came out. There was a huge banner for it hanging out in front of the store and posters all in the store window. Oh, yes this was going to be a great day. I had been listening to the first three albums in the weeks leading up this release. I had seen them earlier in the Summer on the Monsters of rock tour and they had killed. I plunked down my cash for the cassette and clutched it tightly on the way to the car anticipating how great it was going to be. Then something happened, that being that the mighty Metallica had lost their way. I'll get into specific gripes in a minute, but needless to say I was shocked. What happened? How could this happen? My view of Metallica was changed from that day on. I have never come close to liking them as much as I did during the three years before that day. Anyways this leads me to an annual ritual I have whereby I take out And justice for all and give it another chance. Yes, I have been doing this for years to be fair and hoping it might click or at least that's what I thought up until a few years ago. Now I have kind of accepted that I am never going to embrace this album, but I still give it an annual play and try to really give it my attention.

Here are top complaints from 1988 about the album.
1-Most of it is far slower than it needs to be.
2-Several songs are way too long considering what little is going on during the time frame.
3-Where's the bass?
4-Going along with number three is the fact the production overall is very thin.

So over 22 and a half years later here's where I stand after my latest listen as I address the above concerns.

1-I still find this a problem. The power just isn't there and pace is part of it and so is number four, but still this album sorely needed some more speed and spirit to help it out.
2-Oh, definitely. Most of the songs are too long and this ties in with number one as well. They tried to write epics, but instead wrote a number long, boring songs. Yes, there is difference between epic and long and boring. However that's something Metallica didn't know and their lack of writing talent came to the surface on this album.
3-After who knows how many listens I still get stuck on this point. Indeed, why did you hire Newsted only to keep his talent hidden on his first full length effort with Metallica? Another bad decision.
4-There are times where the production is okay, but overall it fails the band. The writing has lot of problem so maybe even stellar production would not have made a difference. However the production on the previous two albums was great. So it was painfully obvious that something was lacking in this area. Even more so is that I've heard live recordings of some of these songs where they sound a lot better live and I think that shows the production here might have robbed this album of some steam.

Okay, not to be a total sourpuss I forced myself to come up with three things I like about this album.
1-Dyers Eve is a pretty good song and nice choice for a closer. Not sure if I like it because it's the fastest song or the shortest, but still I like it.
2-James Hetfield sounds decent overall and the production shortcomings didn't effect his vocals.
3-Blackened has potential. It's probably my second favorite song on the album and it has some moments, but a heavier production would have helped (I know I couldn't resist a little negative jab even here).

So there you go. I gave the album my annual listening actually two as I play it once in the car and then once through the computer with head phones. It's not a good album and it was and still is a disappointment, but I have given and will probably still give it at least one shot a year. Feel free to blast me or agree with me.

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Blogger Andy said...

There is a mix my friend Jason told me about called "And Justice For Jason" which has his bass mixed the way it was supposed to be. I had not heard about it until me mentioned it so I'm interested in hearing it. Color me disapointed in this album as well. This made critic's top ten albums and has been hailed as one of the greatest albums of all times. And yet I fide it sadly drawn out and boring. Burn me at the stake if you must folks but thier first three are so much better. Like you said Mark where is the bass? Jason Newsted has proven he knows what he is doing. Sure he was no Cliff Burton (who is though?) but he could play. It always seemed to me though that for how complex the album was it was also their start of moving away from thrash towards whatever they called thier later music.

5:00 AM  
Blogger DPTH International said...

I have mixed emotions about ...And Justice For All as well. I won't lie. I do enjoy listening to it, but compared to their earlier work, it does feel flat and "fake" almost over produced to my ears. There is no raw power, like the previous albums.

I actually pegged this album as my favourite of theirs for a few years, but it grew stale and I started nit-picking it more. "Ride The Lightening" is probably my favourite now.

I think because this album is where I first was exposed to Metallica, it held some nostalgia.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've despised this album and the band since it was released. I also recently gave it another listen and it just blows. They were terrible live on this tour as well. QRyche made them looks like amateurs.

12:32 PM  
Blogger The Klepto said...

If you equate them to what they were originally then yes, ...And Justice For All is a far-cry from what it is to be Metallica. But look at what they've done sense then...
I guess this may be the beginning of the end for the group, but as a fan of the more 'groove' style of thrash, I like this one quite a bit.
It may be because this was my first real helping to the group, or that my dad played this album endlessly when I was a kind (10 or so, this was the 90s I'm talking about), but songs like "Blackened," "Harvester of Sorrow" and "One" (god, especially "One") I think are great songs.
Their first are good, and Master of Puppets is damn near a work of art, but I prefer ...And Justice For All and it's more laid-back style to the more frantic style of Metallica's first two albums. And I'm not afraid to say it.

...Don't kill me

4:39 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Andy-I would love to hear a mix with the bass in it. That wouldn't fix all the problems, but it would definitely fill a major gap if done correctly.

DPTH-It was the first exposure to Metallica for a lot of people, but fans who enjoyed the previous albums were probably split on this album.

Sean-It's tough to listen to even when I try hard. Metallica were good when I saw them that summer, but they didn't play any songs off this album.

Klepto-We won't kill you.

As I said above for a lot of people this was their first taste of Metallica and for a lot of people who took to them I am sure this album means a great deal. In the long term it was their last real attempt at a metal album until Death Magnetic.

However the thin production and the lack of any real punch on many songs is what killed this album for me and I still hear the same shortcomings on it even today.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Magpie said...

I lost all respect for Metallica when Lars and James publically admitted that they deliberately released what they knew to be a sub-standard album by sabotaging the bass.

For ANY band to think so little of their fans that they ripped them off over some petty internal issue was unforgiveble.

There are some good songs, but the lack of respect to the fans will always leave a black stain on this record.

1:48 AM  

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