Review Of ... And Justice For All — 5 years ago
… And Justice For All is Metallica’s most progressive album; every track is built of many complex sections, with several stretching to nearly 10 minutes. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, the songcraft demonstrated on the band’s previous two releases is sacrificed. Furthermore, the production quality on this release is poor, with the bass almost completely buried and the rest of the instruments sounding muted. … And Justice For All is a good album in spite of these flaws, but it does not live up to expectations after the band’s previous masterpieces.
The most significant highlight is “One”, an epic about a wounded soldier who continues to live without any sensory input or ability to communicate. In contrast to the other material on the album, it is one of the most tuneful songs the band ever wrote. The first half of the song features delicate, clean rhythm guitar and unusually warm vocals by Hetfield with lyrical leads from Hammett. In the second half, Hammett transitions to a howling, desperate solo while the rest of the band plays a breathtakingly fast and precise machine gun riff for a remarkable several minutes. While the music video certainly helped, the song was destined for a Grammy award and enshrinement as one of Metallica’s best-loved songs on its own merits.
The other two noteworthy tracks are “Harvester Of Sorrow” and “To Live Is To Die”. The former is the only song other than “One” to make the cut into the band’s shifting live set through the years, due primarily to the difficulty of reproducing the other songs on a consistent basis. The latter is less coherent than previous Metallica instrumentals, but this is excusable for a track that is built of the unused riffs and poetry of the late Cliff Burton. Throughout the album Hetfield continues the theme of the powerlessness of the the individual from Master Of Puppets.