Released – August 25, 1988
Recorded – January 28 – May 1, 1988
Studio – One on One Recording Studios (Los Angeles, California)
Genre – Thrash metal, Progressive metal
Length – 65:24
And Justice for All (stylized with ellipsis as …And Justice for All) is the fourth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on August 25, 1988 via Elektra Records. It was the first Metallica album to feature bassist Jason Newsted following the death of Cliff Burton in 1986.
And Justice for All is a musically progressive album featuring long and complex songs, fast tempos and few verse-chorus structures. Metallica decided to broaden its sonic range, writing songs with multiple sections, heavy guitar arpeggios and unusual time signatures. Hetfield explained: “Songwriting-wise, [the album] was just us really showing off and trying to show what we could do. ‘We’ve jammed six riffs into one song? Let’s make it eight. Let’s go crazy with it.'”
The lyrics address political and legal injustice as seen through the prism of war, censored speech, and nuclear brinksmanship. The majority of the songs raise issues that differ from the violent retaliation of the previous releases. Tom King wrote that for the first time the lyrics dealt with political and environmental issues. He named contemporaries Nuclear Assault as the only other band who applied ecological lyrics to thrash metal songs rather than singing about Satan and Egyptian plagues. McIver noted that Hetfield, the band’s main lyricist, wrote about topics that he had not addressed before, such as his revolt against the establishment. Ulrich described the songwriting process as their “CNN years”, with him and Hetfield watching the channel in search for song subjects—”I’d read about the blacklisting thing, we’d get a title, ‘The Shortest Straw,’ and a song would come out of that.”
Concerns about the environmental plight of the planet (“Blackened“), corruption (“And Justice for All“), and blacklisting and discrimination (“The Shortest Straw“) are emphasized with traditional existential themes. Issues such as freedom of speech and civil liberties are presented from a grim and pessimistic point of view. “One” was unofficially nicknamed an “antiwar anthem” because of the lyrics which portray the suffering of a wounded soldier. “Dyers Eve” is a lyrical rant from Hetfield to his parents. Burton received co-writing credit on “To Live Is to Die” as the bass line is a medley of unused recordings Burton had performed prior to his death. Because the original recordings are not used on the track, the composition is credited as written by Burton and played by Newsted. The spoken word section of the song was erroneously attributed in its entirety to Burton in the liner notes. The first line was actually written by German poet Paul Gerhardt (“When a man lies, he murders some part of the world.”) while the second line comes from Lord Foul’s Bane, a fantasy novel by American writer Stephen R. Donaldson (“These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives.”). The second half of the speech (“All this I cannot bear to witness any longer. Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home?”) was written by Burton.
The artwork was created by Stephen Gorman, based on a concept developed by Hetfield and Ulrich. It depicts a cracked statue of a blindfolded Lady Justice, bound by ropes with her breasts exposed and her scales overflowing with dollar bills, with the title in graffiti style.
- “Blackened” 6:41
- “…And Justice for All” 9:47
- “Eye of the Beholder” 6:30
- “One” 7:27
- “The Shortest Straw” 6:36
- “Harvester of Sorrow” 5:46
- “The Frayed Ends of Sanity” 7:44
- “To Live Is to Die” (instrumental) 9:49
- “Dyers Eve” 5:13