Sound — 9
As a late Metallica fan, I personally think that this is Metallica's best work after Cliff Burton's tragic death. Most fans don't like the fact that Metallica made the bass non-existant in the album, but I disagree with this point. Yes, bass is a very important instrument in the band, in fact, you can't really have a band without a bassist, which makes this album one of the more complex albums Metallica has ever done. I look at the fact Jason Newsted was not necessarily included in the work as more of a tribute to Cliff Burton, which is why I can level with the fact there's no bass. The sound of the album is the essence of Metallica. Clean, slow portions of songs that lead into heavy, distorted riffs backed with angry, growling lyrics and amazing drum work make the album come alive with energy. The only thing I would have to complain about in the sound department would be the fact that the drums are a little too loud, especially the kick pedal. I think they did this because of the fact there was practically no bass, but making your drum kit louder does not give you a good bass guitar effect.
Lyrics — 10
James Hetfield's lyrical originality comes into play a lot in this album. The flow of lyrics along with the rhythm is very good and it makes for a good album the whole way around. Also the addition of a song that Cliff Burton was writing is a good touch and a wonderful memento of Cliff's extraordinary role in the band.
Overall Impression — 9
Most of the songs on the album are good, but they don't compare to the other ones on the album. For an example, Eye of the Beholder is a good song; great rhythm guitar and great lyrics, but it doesn't really compare to the beast that is One, which was written about a soldier losing most of his limbs to a landmine (but is also about the book Johnny Got His Gun, which was the same situation). One has blistering solos, great rhythm work, amazing drums and pissed off lyrics that makes Metallica fans yearn for that kind of song years down the road. Overall, this is the most artistically complicated work that Metallica has produced and I would most definately recommend this album to any starting guitar player to give them something to strive for and work for.