…And Jus­tice For All: Deluxe Box Set

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff - Rich daven­port

Dam­aged Jus­tice re­vis­ited.

Last year, James Het­field stated em­phat­i­cally his op­po­si­tion to remix­ing …And Jus­tice For All to give Ja­son New­sted’s barely au­di­ble bass gui­tar a more prom­i­nent pres­ence, pre­fer­ring to con­serve the al­bum’s orig­i­nal char­ac­ter ac­cu­rately, for bet­ter or worse. Het­field, Kirk Ham­mett, and, un­sur­pris­ingly, New­sted him­self, have ex­pressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the al­bum’s sound, in­nu­mer­able ar­ti­cles have ex­plored the rea­sons be­hind the im­bal­ance (chief among them the fact that New­sted’s bass lines closely mir­rored Het­field’s gui­tar lines and com­peted for the same fre­quency bands), and fans have even up­loaded their own remixes to YouTube. Still, no dice. Nev­er­the­less, any dis­ap­point­ment at the band’s res­o­lute re­fusal to fix the flawed orig­i­nal mix of Me­tal­lica’s most com­plex record is li­able to be com­pen­sated by the co­pi­ous vault­purg­ing arte­facts spread across the 11 CDs, four vinyl LPs, DVDs and ephemera that com­prise this Deluxe Box Set.

New­sted’s con­tri­bu­tion to Jus­tice is also made clearer, via a wealth of demos and rough mixes, which pro­vide a vivid il­lus­tra­tion of the sheer graft that went into the cre­ative process, with Me­tal­lica re­fus­ing to be­come com­pla­cent or tone down their sound as their stature in­creased. New­sted also res­onates through the three crush­ing Dam­aged Jus­tice live shows, and the re­mas­ter­ing of the orig­i­nal nine songs adds a warmth and full­ness which en­hances the mo­ments dur­ing which the bass is more dis­cernible.

Flaws aside, back in 1988 Jus­tice was mostly greeted with en­thu­si­asm by fans and crit­ics, praised for the mu­si­cian­ship dis­played in the labyrinthine song struc­tures, the dizzy­ing changes of Black­ened and the ti­tle song a log­i­cal ex­ten­sion of ear­lier tracks like Master Of Pup­pets. And for dis­ci­ples of the riff it’s hog heaven, each song a stream of mem­o­rable mo­tifs. Weaker mo­ments oc­cur as To Live Is To Die drags early on and Har­vester Of Sor­row plods, and Dyer’s Eve lacks the last­ing melodies of pre­vi­ous thrash­ers such as Dam­age Inc, but each has re­deem­ing el­e­ments, and the oth­er­wise high cal­i­bre of what’s on of­fer wins out over­all.

Jus­tice marked the mo­ment at which Me­tal­lica, hav­ing sur­vived the tragic loss of bassist Cliff Bur­ton, en­tered the big league, play­ing are­nas and crack­ing the Bill­board Top 10. This im­mer­sive col­lec­tion cap­tures the ex­cite­ment of an era some­times over­looked be­tween their twin peaks of Master Of Pup­pets and the Black Al­bum.

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