• Metallica - ...And Justice For All (1988) - The visionary prototype is better than the genre - 96% (24/05/14)

    Metallica - ...And Justice For All (1988)

    „…And Justice For All“ is my favourite Metallica record along with the thrash metal milestone „Ride The Lightning“ and the controversial, desperate and pitiless “St. Anger”. The song writing, innovation and intensity are different from the other two releases but as impressive in my humble opinion. Obviously, this record also has a strong disadvantage many people have already pointed out: the production. The sound is too clinical and the bass guitar is nearly inaudible. Yes, this approach gives the band sound a completely new style, it makes the final result unique and fits to the sinister lyrics. On the other side, a more natural sound would have added given more power instead which I would have preferred over the constantly angry atmosphere it incarnates. This is one of the rare cases where I would support a completely re-mastered version of the original. Otherwise, one may enjoy many songs on several outstanding live records and I would give the band the advice to play the full album in concert and release it as a double-disc version for their fans so that everyone can finally perfectly enjoy the material. Personally, this irritating production issue doesn’t bother me enough though to ignore the nine excellent songs on this release.

    Metallica went away from the straight sound of the two first albums and also from the more melodic side of the predecessor. The band offers instead more challenging and slightly progressive song writing with technically improved musicianship, extended instrumental parts and many powerful breakdowns with two songs nearly hitting the ten minute mark. The vocals are maybe more emotional and still technically appealing than ever, the drum sound is drier than usual, the riffs may sound repetitive but are always effective and I especially like the few colourful melodic guitar solos that lighten up rather dark songs as “The Shortest Straw” for example.

    At the same time, the stronger use of mid-tempo riffs and more versatile vocals that vary from calm clean passages over angry and slightly uncontrolled screams to a few vocal effects makes this record an often ignored prototype of the controversial groove metal genre that would become popular a few years after with releases by Exhorder, Fear Factory, Machine Head, Pantera, Prong and Sepultura. A good example for the use of more modern mid-tempo riffs and vocal effects is portrayed in “Eye Of The Beholder” while the fusion of a calm half ballad approach that slowly shifts towards a more destructive sound with angrily shouted vocals can best be heard in the lyrically intriguing “One” which is maybe the best and probably the most atmospheric song Metallica ever wrote. The quasi-instrumental “To Live Is To Die” hits a similar vein and has a great and coherent progression which makes this track one of my favourite instrumental songs ever. The menacing guitar sound, the tight and precise drum play and the pissed-off vocals in the first single “Harvester Of Sorrow” also perfectly represent the style of this record.

    It’s somehow ironical that this uncompromising record that is a lot less approachable than the first three outputs in my opinion would hit the charts and pave the path to worldwide commercial success for the band. Those who seriously claim that Metallica would flirt with mainstream on this album must be deaf as the opposite is the case. After the tragic death of their bass player Cliff Burton the band simply had to release this desperate sixty-five minutes of music as much as the liberating “St. Anger” fifteen years later after years of internal disputes and growing pressure. This band seems to work best when put under pressure. I must admit that this album has a very own and special mood which makes this release so controversial. Sometimes I enjoy this record a little bit less but when I’m in the right mood I definitely dig it and am close to consider it as the best output the band may have released. This record is not for everyone. Old school thrash metal fans might only like the powerful opener “Blackened”, the vivid “The Frayed Eyes Of Sanity” and the fast closer “Dyers Eve” which consistently grew on me. Fans of the later and more commercial years will appreciate “One” as well as “Harvester Of Sorrow” but could fail to make it through the even longer songs on this release. In my opinion, this release is though one of Metallica’s most emotional, groundbreaking and technically stunning albums for those who like both Metallica’s early and later days. In the end, this groove metal prototype is better than anything the real genre would ever manage to release.

    « Timo Tolkki's Avalon - Angels Of The Apocalypse (2014) - Design the worst European power metal album ever - 28% (23/05/14)Sabazius - The Descent Of Man (2013) - A massive waste of time - 1% (25/05/14) »
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