Sound — 10
Overall, the sound on this album is arguably the best, most rounded-out in all of their albums. The guitars are scorching hot, the drums will pound your face in, and the bass is just plain kick-ass. It's not quite as fast and thrashy as Kill 'Em All, but it's still ferocious, and every single member does a brilliant job. Kirk has some of his best solos right here, as evidenced by "Fade To Black" and "Creeping Death". James really takes the rhythm king title here, with the vicious riffs on "Fight Fire With Fire" and "Trapped Under Ice". Lars really shows how amazing he is in this album, going from balls-to-wall, all-out thrash on "Fight Fire With Fire" to amazing self-restraint on "For Whom The Bell Tolls". Cliff Burton (R.I.P.) does an absolutely amazing job, here. His intro on "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is brilliant, and he sounds simply stunning on "The Call Of Ktulu".
Lyrics — 10
While I personally prefer the lyrics on Kill 'Em All, (I thought the overt talk about the heavy metal life and lore was pretty entertaining) the ones on this album are very good. James sounds great, and very youthful. He sounds angry, but quite like in... And Justice For All, which was kind of over the top. The lyrics all flow with the music, and go well with the tones of the songs. The only one that comes close to a complaint is on "Escape". I don't think the vocals hitting the exact same notes as the guitar sound the best, but it's the only time I've heard this style in Metallica history.
Overall Impression — 10
I believe that this album is Metallica's best album. The riffs on these songs are classic, and it's not brought down by some theme that goes into every song, like... And Justice For All and Master Of Puppets. Two of my favorite 'Tallica songs are on here ("For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "Fade To Black"), and there isn't a single one that sounds is anything less than amazing. One thing is has, in my opinion at least, are many of the best versions of the "layout" of this, Master, Justice, and Death Magnetic. "Fight Fire With Fire" is fastest, "Fade To Black" is the best ballad, if not the best song they've ever written, and the best instrumental in "The Call Of Ktulu". Overall, this is a must buy, and anyone who says that they like thrash, or even just plain metal, must own it.