Sound — 9
The sound is excellent. Although some would say that Metallica sort of strayed-away from their original sound, I would have to disagree. This album is plenty heavy. It has a diverse mix, with a couple ballads, some "in-your-face" heavy songs, and some fast, "out of control" ones. My favorites would have to be 1) The Unforgiven: The solo is just amazing, very classic and emotional. 2) Sad But True: Nice and heavy, a little slow, but pretty awesome. 3) Don't Tread on Me: Also a heavy one, it's really awesome and makes you wanna headbang.
Lyrics — 8
In this album, the lyrics are about a mixture of things. For example, Nothing Else Matters is about an undying love for someone, while Don't Tread on Me is an aggressive, patriotic song. James, for the pretty much first time, uses a softer, cleaner voice at some times, while still retaining his trademark rough voice for the majority of the album. You can tell his voice is a little bit deeper than previous albums, which probably came with age. The lyrics are great, and you often find yourself singing along.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this is a great, diverse album. There are soft spots, but the majority of it is nice and heavy. It compares somewhat with the previous albums, but at the same time introduces a slightly different approach to metal. The thing about this album that I love the most is for one the diversity; it has a song for almost every situation you can think of. But most of all, I love the undying intensity and heaviness of the album. If it were lost or stolen, I'd definitely buy it again.