Friday, May 17, 2013

And Justice For All - Metallica

And Justice For All

Metallica Band Members and Symbol
…And Justice For All is essentially a progressive metal and a thrash metal album. As is typically with a majority of metal albums, violence and destruction form the milieu; war, social malpractices are the main themes.  James Hetfield’s growling vocals, Kirk Hammett’s pentatonic solos and Lars Ulrich’s stunning work with the drums- this album is a treat for metal lovers. This is also bassist Jason Newsted’s first studio album with Metallica following bass virtuoso Cliff Burton’s tragic death.

Cover of this album
The opening track of the album is ‘Blackened’, a thrash metal composition featuring lightning fast guitar riffs by Kirk Hammett and some dark lyrics describing the stark reality of Mother Earth maimed and scarred due to environmental degradation triggered by humans and the clouds of an impending apocalypse which hover above us if we do not take steps to control the damage. The title track ‘…And Justice For All’ is somewhat overdrawn with a duration of about 10 minutes. Nevertheless, the song is about corruption, how money can buy justice and how the courts dance to the tunes of the wealthy.

Eye of the Beholder’ appeals to the listener to look through smoke-screens of lies and fabrications and stand up against imposed limitations on freedom of speech. 

The next track is ‘One’, undoubtedly the piece de resistance of the album. Starting with ambient sounds of helicopters and cries of soldiers, the song slowly flows into a haunting clean guitar intro by Kirk Hammett (one of the best song intros I’ve ever heard) followed by a simple melody crooned by Hetfield. Lyrically, the song describes the predicament of an injured soldier. After the bridge, get ready to be blown away by Ulrich’s work with the double bass as he works in tandem with Hammett and Hetfield to create 3 minutes of absolutely stunning music. Hammett’s guitar solo at the end has garnered wide critical acclaim and is a hit among guitar lovers.

Next up is ‘The Shortest Straw’, a song about modern-day witch-hunts, innocent people wrongfully implicated and convicted by governments across the world. ‘Harvester of Sorrow’ is about a man who is on the precipice of sanity and vents his anger on his family while ‘The Frayed Ends of Sanity’ is a song about an unsuccessful  man gravitating towards paranoia and is on the brink of losing his mind.

To Live Is To Die’ is an instrumental which is consistent with their custom of including an instrumental track in each of their studio albums. It starts off with chords on an acoustic guitar, faintly reminiscent of ‘Fade to Black’. It is largely structured around riffs that had been composed by Cliff Burton and not been used. There are some spoken lyrics at the end. Metallica has dedicated this instrumental to Burton who was a victim of a tragic bus accident also involving other band members. The album ends with a bang with ‘Dyer’s Eve’, a song about an agitated man who castigates his parents for protecting and insulating him in a cocoon of religious beliefs, tucked away from the cold world outside.

Overall, the album is noteworthy for its complex and technical guitar solos, intricate passages throughout its songs and a mature choice of themes which was novel in an otherwise hapless metal scene dominated by bands ranting and expatiating on sex, drugs, booze and other vices. It also silenced their critics asking questions about the band’s future after the legendary Cliff Burton’s untimely demise. So, spare an hour and enjoy this thrash-bang ride!

MY PICKS: One, Blackened, Dyer’s Eve

And Justice For All - Full Album

(The names of the songs have been linked with their videos on Youtube)

-- Contributed by Niranjan Thakurdesai.