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...And Justice For All

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Metallica's ...And Justice For AllI'd like to take a second and gush about one of my favorite album's of all time: Metallica's ...And Justice For All.

*** This post has been a draft in my content management system since 2011, I'm not sure why I never finished and published it before now, but better late than never. ***

Recently at work while listening to my MP3 player ...And Justice For All (AJFA) came up randomly. It had been many years since I listened to any of the songs on this album and I was surprised that even with my every changing tastes in music I still loved it.

I'm not sure if it works like this for other people, but certain songs/albums remind me of specific points in time. For example, Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion I and II were given to as a Christmas present in 1992. I was sick with the flu that Christmas and couldn't do anything except lay in bed and listen to these two tapes. To this day I still remember the headache, bodyaches and how awful I felt when I hear certain songs on those albums. It's the same way with AJFA, every time I hear the song Blackened I think of riding the bus the school in 5th grade having to hold the headphone jack of my walkman with my thumb in order to get sound out of both ears.

This was just about the time when I started playing the drums and I thought Lars Ulrich (Metallica's drummer) was the most amazing drummer ever. I've since revised this opinion but at the time he was the biggest influence on my learning and playing. I remember going to the Sam Goody music store in the Bridgewater Commons mall just down from the movie theater and I found a drum tab book for AJFA! This was amazing because I didn't know they made those, I'd only ever seen guitar and bass tabliture books, and Sam Goody didn't have any other drum tab books, only that one copy for AJFA. I used to listen to the album and follow along with the music notation in that book and be in awe of how someone could come up with those drum parts and be able to play them. Sadly I don't know what happened to this book, I would love to look through it again and I do still have many music books from this point in my life, but this one seems to be missing.

Many people consider AJFA to be Metallica's worst album. The most common complaint is the mastering of it and what the final product sounds like. It's very tight, dry, compressed, depressing and dynamically lacking. I do agree it is all of those things, but I think it fits with the music, lyrics and overall tone though. The overall mix however is a little wonky. The bass is all but completely missing from the mix. This has been discussed to death and had to do with the death of their original bass player Cliff Burton. They were hurt at the loss of their friend and took it out on his replacement Jason Newstead by bringing the bass tracks down to the point where you basically can't hear them at all. This is really a shame as not only would the bass add another layer of awesome, it would've filled in the low-end where just the kick drums live. Some guy went and remastered the whole album adding the bassline back in from various sources (probably fans rather than the actual Jason Newstead tracks) and it's available in here: ...And Justice for Jason. It's pretty cool but they went the other way and the bass is just too loud.

Being a drummer, one of the reasons I love this album so much is the sound they achieved on the drums.



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