Sound — 6
This is the first record where bassist Cliff Burton was replaced by Jason Newsted. In one hand you had Cliff, whose playing was mounstrosly strong, sometimes following the guitars, sometimes playing along with drums and sometimes bringing his own bassline. He played solos and was some of a virtuoso, he is probably one of the best players of all music history. He died in an accident in Sweden, qhile touring for Master of Puppets. Metallica found themselves in a mourning over a very good friend and having to replace an important piece. Cliff used to write a fair amount of guitar riffs, write his own basslines and help James with harmonies. In the other hand Jason Newsted the new bassist came to replace Cliff after an audition which consisted mainly of fans. Jason brought a lot of energy and a great attitude to the audition which gain the trust of the other three guys. But to the other three guys he was the replacement for Cliff, and was seen as the replacement not like a new friend. His playing was a lot inexperienced and he had to replace a bass god, and Jason plays very good but he is not half the player Cliff was. First off, he plays with a pick (if you're a bassplayer and play with a pick, goddamit, your punishing your band with a bad sound, it may sound louder, but that doesn't mean that finger playing can't be powerfull). Second, for this record he only played what the guitars played, if you're a bass player you don't want to do this. Drums don't play what guitar play, keyboards don't play what guitar plays, bass is another instrument and has to have his own part, bass has to pound the rythm or create a melodic mood. Third, Jason was sabbotaged by the rest of the band in his sound, making the bass almost silent. All this backround sets for a bad record in regard for the Bass. Drumms, Lars did an excelent job, I've heard a lot of drummers say that this is his climax in playing, he plays a very well defined drums, good speed and a lot of fills. He uses a great amount of double bass. His drummer accompanied well the anger in the record. Guitars, both James an Kirk did very nice job, this record has the best riffs and very fast strumming. There are a lot of complex parts and great bridges and interludes. Kirk also does a great job with the solos, powerfull, fast, with a great sound, also angry, and this record gives what is considered his trademark solo and a top ten in great guitar solos countdown for one. Not many harmonies, notable that there is no Cliff around. Vocals, they sound pissed off and are barked out of James' mouth as a mad Dobermann. This is my favourite voice by James, and definitely is full of anger. As the first record without cliff I would've expected a record dedicated to him, but they seem to have their anger driven against government and economy. A lot of anger, there is a notable evolution in everyones playing, not many attention over harmonies, and a bad debut by Jason.
Lyrics — 10
01.Blackened: Blackened starts off the record, not with an acoustic intro, but with a great harmonie played backwards. This is my favourite intro in a Metallica record building up with power until a very fast riff by James takes place. This is a great fast song perfect for headbanging along. James sings very powerfully, shouts loudly and goes on singing about massive destruction due to nuclear war. Sets the mood for a record making a political statement. The song goes on to a great interlude with lars kicking the bass drum at a nice pace. There is a great harmony before a great solo which speeds up to a kick ass crazy solo. The song has another verse after endinng with the main riff. 02.And Justice For All: great clean intro building up, asembling the intro to battery. Lars puts up a great drum part which is followed by the guitars, There is a great harmonie that pictures destruction, then the vocals start off. The lyrics are about how powerfull people maintain their power and focus on their own interest over the interest of the people. It's a great critic against government and against material life. There are a lot of fills performed by Lars that bring anger and power to the song. Then there is another verse and the solo. Slow great with the music, probably one of my favourite ones, it follows a great melody. Then there is a great pounding part that drops into the intro riff with distortion. There's another verse and chorus, followed by the great destruction harmoniy(in live shows back in the day, this part led to Dorothy, the statue on the cover to be destroyed), and the song ending. 03.Eye Of The Beholder: Starts of with pounding drumms and some guitar strumming which builds into a simple riff that goes troughout the song. This song is great even if it is very repetitive. James Voice is layered which gives a digital taste to the song, then there's the chorus which is another simple riff. The lyrics are about Trust, confidence, moral and other aspects, values that have been disapearing in civilization. There are several more verses, followed by a harmony and a short very nice solo to end with another verse chorus. 04.One: Definitely my very favourite song of all time. It starts off with some war noise followed by a clean part similar to the parts in both Fade to Black and Welcome Home. There is a very clean adecuate solo building up to the verse riff which converts into a great clean part consisting on several guitar parts layered one over another. Then the first verse. The lyrics deal with someone, a young soldier that got blasted by a landmine during war. The chorus is dissorted and the voice sounds depressing. Then the clean part joins the second verse and chorus. Next comes the clean part with my favorite solo. A clean but full of soul solo with arpeggios and chords building into a tapping part. Another chorus and the distortion starts, there are two riffs that build onto a bass drum part simulating a gunshot. Guitars come in following the drumms and some lyrics that complain about being enclosed by a body. Then the song gets faster building onto the solo, a tapping trademark full of scales and awesome bends that suit great. The song goes on to a harmoniy, a kick ass harmony that sounds like a big migrane and ends up with more gunshot guitars ending suddenly. 05.The Shortest Straw: This is by far the song that I like the least in the record. The riff and the drumms are simple, they build into a faster riff. The verse starts singing about more politics and war. Lars brings a lot of fills into the song giving a great fill between verses. The solo is great, kirk pulls off some great scales and awesome bends. There is a middle section with some singing, and a second very nice solo. There is a last verse and chorus to end the song. 06.Harvester Of Sorrow: This is one of metallica's more powerful songs. It starts off withsome chord smashing to be followed by a clean section where you can feel the power and adrenaline building in the song. Suddenly the same part is played dissorted accompanied by very strong pounding drumms. This song is an outstanding performance by Lars, he is once again bringging a lot of power and anger to the song. The lyrics are about a man that went mad by the stresses of life and killed his entire family. The solo is short, easy going but is well suited to the song. 07.The Frayed Ends Of Sanity: A Great intro with great drums punding and a powerful Chant that builds into the main riff. The riff is somehow reminding of Black Sabbath's Symptom Of The Universe. Definitely my favourite Metallica Riff. This song is also a bit repetitive but the verses and choruses are powerful enough to hide this. The Song is about becoming crazy and the ends of sanity becoming the birth of insanity. The interlude is great, fast guitars and a great fast solo. The song goes on for another verse chorus to end. 08.To Live Is To Die: This song is this album's instrumental. It's my least favourite instrumental song by Metallica, this doesn't mean at all that it's not good. It starts of with a great acoustic part. Later in the song the main riff, slow but heavy is played throughout. Lars goes changing his parts and doing a lot of fills. There are several leads and a couple of solos before an awesome lead whici is a harmony that suddenly becomes clean, there is another solo followed by some lyrics. Lyrics in an instrumental song? It's just an awesome poem written by Cliff Burton mumbled to the main riff. The song ends up returning to the intro acoustic part. 09.Dyers Eve: To live is to die builds up to this song. This is metallicas fastest song. The riffs are well defined and fast as hell. A lot of thirds played throughout the riffs. This is something I think puts metallica and megadeth way over slayer. Their riffs aren't just moving your hand fast as hell, but moving it fast as hell varying the speed and constantly pausing. The lyrics are a complain agaist father and mother for molding ones life instead of just being a guide through life. The drums are amazing, Lars use his snare to do very great pauses and time intervals. The solo is great, fast and well suited. A great song to end not only the record but Metallica's Thrash era.
Overall Impression — 10
This record is still very similar in structure to previous two albums. I Think that every musician in the band showed a good evolution. Personally I think that the sound is definitely not the same without Cliff, as 1/4 of Metallica had died. The songs are all great especially One which is awesome but escept for this song, I always feel that something is missing in the songs. I love the record though and it is a must have for every metal fan.