Great Metal Albums of 1988: Metallica- And Justice for All

In the opinion of many, the 1988 albums I have already featured from two of the big four, Anthrax and Slayer, didn’t meet the bar set by their blockbuster previous albums. While I can somewhat agree on a small scale, I think those albums were great in their own right, I’ve already said so. Therefore, the question for Metallica’s “And Justice for All” album is if it lived up to the bar set by the previous defining album, “Master of Puppets.” Well, the fact that this was Metallica’s best selling album would answer the question in the affirmative.

My problem, although I wouldn’t call it a problem, is that “Master of Puppets” is my all time favourite Metallica album. So, where does that leave “And Justice for All?” The answer is quite simple, this album is a fantastic album. Metallica don’t lose any of the hunger they displayed when they recorded “Master of Puppets.” They still want to blow your mind at 300 mph and pound you into submission with power chords. Plus, the comparisons between these two iconic albums are plain to see. Take the first track, like my all time favourite Metallica song, “Battery,” “Blackened” also grabs you by the throat and demands that you are going to listen to this album to the death. They just do it slightly different. Instead of an acoustic guitar intro, “Blackened” opens with a more mellow lead guitar interlude, that’s how it sounds to me anyway, before going all out assault.

The title track is one reason this album falls ever so slightly below its predecessor. While it was good that they kept the same format, on “Master of Puppets,” you have eight songs in fifty-five minutes, they go beyond that on a couple of the songs here. While I love the title track, I do think it goes on a little too long and I can see why after playing it live, Kirk Hammett stated that they’re weren’t going to play that fucking song again. Then there is the case of two songs, which were ironically released as singles which, while great songs, aren’t as spectacular as the rest. I’m talking about “Eye of the Beholder” and “Harvester of Sorrow.” For me, they are slightly below the others on the album but here’s the thing, if they were on some of Metallica’s other albums, they would be the best songs on that album. That’s an indication of just how good “And Justice for All” is.

Speaking of singles, if you really want one from the album, then “One” is your single. What Metallica did here was to take everything which they did so well on the previous album and put it all into this song. The haunting slow parts, the guitar hooks of Kirk and the speed metal bits. Plus there is the spoken parts which add to the sinister feeling of the song and though it doesn’t come until the final quarter of the song, Kirk does lay down a mean guitar solo. This song is just brilliant and screw MTV and the radio stations for not playing it.

Following the best single on the album is the hidden gem, “The Shortest Straw.” It is simply Metallica doing what Metallica does best, going all out thrash. One outside criticism which has been aimed at the album is that Jason’s bass was significantly turned down on the album. Well, I get to hear it quite well on this track and it lays down the groove which the guitars and frantic drumming of Lars follow on with.

Again, finding very hard not to compare “And Justice For All” with “Master of Puppets,” I find a near similarity with the penultimate tracks. Anyone who knows anything about Metallica knows what a great instrumental “Orion” is on said previous album. Except for four lines of spoken word written by the late Cliff Burton and left in as a tribute to him, the rest of “To Live is to Die” is pretty much an instrumental. Like “Orion,” it’s masterfully done and dispels the belief held by Duranie types at the time that thrash metal musicians were only capable of playing two chords. This has given my an idea for my next post as I am heading north to play Santa Claus for some of my step-grandchildren and am not able to give a full length album the attention it deserves. I’m going to feature the two songs and see which one if either is better.

Track Listing:

  1. Blackened
  2. And Justice For All
  3. Eye of the Beholder
  4. One
  5. The Shortest Straw
  6. Harvester of Souls
  7. The Frayed Ends of Sanity
  8. To Live is to Die
  9. Dyers Eve


James Hetfield- vocals, rhythm guitar acoustic guitar, second solo on “To Live is To Die”

Kirk Hammett- lead guitar

Jason Newsted- bass

Lars Ulrich- drums

For all of my comparisons between this one and Metallica’s previous album, I will say that “And Justice for All” is a magnificent album in its own right. My second favourite of all time and it’s clear why whenever I listen to it.

Next post: Orion vs. To Live is to Die

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12 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1988: Metallica- And Justice for All”

  1. Brings back memories! And while I love some Metallica songs, I wasn’t familiar with these, or the album, though I love the stuff about democracy in One (beginning spoken words). Metallica was sure innovative!
    And enjoy playing Santa! ❤️😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I used to be pretty disparaging of Metallica – growing up in the 1990s, S&M was the first new Metallica album after I was aware of them, and it was easy to mock that. But I’ve come to appreciate their 1980s work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I got to Metallica late (I was the jazz kid) but this is part of their complete breakfast. \m/ \m/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing album. They did a great job of changing up their sound but still keeping it sounding like them.

    Liked by 1 person

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