Sound — 10
Metallica has slowed down oh the horror! Yes everone was shocked to hear that Metallica, the speed metal kings (don't give me those looks, I'm not here to argue with Slayer and Megadeth fans 'cause I am a fan of those bands too) have slowed down to deliver more melodic songs. This is not a bad thing! They are still very heavy. Heavy does not mean music so fast that you have a concussion when you headbang to it (although that's the kind most people including me prefer). On this, Metallica's 5th studio album, we hear slower but somewhat more serious guitar riffs. Unlike previous albums such as Master Of Puppets, this album has riffs with more rhythm than just speed (compare 'Battery' and 'Enter Sandman'). It is true that they have slowed down but they are still fast, it's not like they started singing blues (read reviews on Load). Less emphasis is put on guitar solos on this album but yet Kirk Hammet has done some of his best work on this album like the solos from 'Wherever I May Roam' and from 'The Unforgiven' (don't expect a solo like the solo from 'One' or 'Master Of Puppets').
There are 2 ballads on this album 'The Unforgiven' and 'Nothing Else Matters'. They have sort of reversed their regular formula for a ballad with 'The Unforgiven'. Instead of having a slow verse and heavy chorus they have a heavy verse and a slow chorus. The other ballad I mentioed shows a sensitive side of mr. James Hetfield. He sings about his ex-girlfriend. The song is slow and even has some orchestral stuff on it (actually it was this song that inspired S&M). The bass frequencies have been turned up on this album. Instead of just playing along with the drums like on previous albums Jason Newsted plays along with the guitars. This change is welcome as you could barely hear the bass on '...And Justice For All'. The song on this album is really good, not necessarily an improvement from previous albums in terms of style but definitely an improvement on technical stuff like frequencies etc.
Lyrics — 10
Metallica's lyrics have defintely improved since Kill'Em All. Most of the time you really have to think what they are singing about instead of just being told 'scanning the scene on the city tonight, looking for you to start up a fight'. The lyrics are really good and made even better by James' voice. He is my favortie lead singer ever.
Overall Impression — 10
Personally, I think that Master Of Puppets is Metallica's best but this albums comes in second or maybe third (I am considering Ride The Lightning because of Fade To Black and The Call Of Ktulu). Any Metallica fan should own this album even if your're a fan of old Metallica, you should get this. Heck every metal fan should own this album. Metallica is the best band ever in my view even though they basically went dwonhill after this album (read the reviews for Load and St. Anger). I love the fact that they uppped the bass. I love this album and will without a doubt buy it again if it was lost.