Metallica at the Poplar Creek Music Theater on Aug. 6, 1989. 
Metallica at the Poplar Creek Music Theater on Aug. 6, 1989. 
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Metallica's '...And Justice for All' at 30: Metal Bands Reflect on the Album's Towering Legacy

September 13, 2018, 11:56am EDT

When Cliff Burton was killed in a September 1986 bus crash, Metallica didn't just lose their bassist -- they lost a brother and a best friend. 

For the surviving members of Metallica, trauma was very much fresh on their minds when they entered the studio to begin work on their next album, ...And Justice For All. The group had a new bassist, Jason Newsted of the underrated Arizona prog metal outfit Flotsam and Jetsam, who had previously recorded The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited with the group. However, for Justice, Newsted's bass was mixed down to near inaudible levels while the guitars and drums reverberated in a toast-dry tone. For the last 30 years, theories, conspiracies and criticisms have swirled around the reasons why they made that call, as well as the incessant ribbing the bassist would get from the band. But you don't need to watch a documentary to understand on a human level how deeply and psychologically the sudden death of Burton impacted James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and especially Kirk Hammett, who lost a bet with Cliff about who got the top bunk on the ill-fated tour bus. Truthfully, they could have had Jaco Pastorius or Geddy Lee as their new bass player and the bass-muffling actions would probably have remained the same. 

Unfortunately, it’s the “…And Justice for Jason” aspect of the story behind ...And Justice for All that has seemed to overshadow the unbridled brilliance of these nine songs, epic commentaries on war ("One"), governmental imposition (“Eye of the Beholder”), societal dysfunction (“The Shortest Straw”), environmental doom (“Blackened”), mental fragility (“Frayed Ends of Sanity”) and moral decay (“Harvester of Sorrow”) with King Crimson-esque time changes and colorful classical guitar flourishes that helped usher metal into a new era of creativity.

Another aspect of the album's history that sometimes overshadows its root majesty is how it lost the very first Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental to Jethro Tull. (Mind you, Crest of a Knave, the English prog band's 1987 LP that beat out Justice, is easily Tull's best since Heavy Horses, but in no way should it have bested this 65-minute metal odyssey in that category.)

Listening to …And Justice for All in 2018, we are reminded of not only the seismic shift in artistic direction these nine songs brought to the Metallica legacy, but of their bravery in piercing the veil of grief that engulfed the band in their darkest hour. To emerge with a record that many fans argue is the group’s singular masterpiece was a titanic show of resilience in the face of sudden tragedy. 

Metallica’s label Blackened Recordings recently announced a Nov. 2 release date for the Justice reissue campaign, once again made available in a myriad of editions from the no-frills remastered edition on CD and 180 gram vinyl to a three-CD expanded edition to the one-pressing-only limited edition deluxe box set. And if you thought the sets for Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets were impressive, this monolith dedicated to …And Justice for All is a feast for the eye of any beholder. At 11 CDs and four DVDs, this collection dives deep into the whirlwind two years surrounding Justice, gathering interviews, demos, rough mixes, riffs and a metric ton of live material of varying fidelities culled from the band’s Damaged Justice tour. There’s also the “One” 10-inch vinyl picture disc with Pushead’s iconic artwork, patches, a Pushead tour shirt print, a tour laminate, lyric sheets and a 120-page hardcover book just loaded with previously unseen photos. Just take a few minutes to watch Kirk Hammett’s unboxing video of the set and contract his giddy anticipation poring over its innards.

In honor of its 30th anniversary, Billboard has gathered reflections from a variety of artists in rock, punk, metal and beyond about this very special recording and the impact it brought upon each of their lives.

Metallica are in the studio recording ...And Justice For All. Everyone at Elektra records is very excited to hear this so what do Metallica do? They deliver a triple threat tour de force masterpiece. At the time, this wound up being their biggest selling album to date. – Michael Alago, former Elektra A&R man who signed Metallica

When I entered my teenage years, Metallica was my whole world. A friend of mine named Tony Clark had an older brother that was a metalhead. Whenever he was out, Tony would sneak into his room and pilfer records for me to borrow and listen to before returning them unnoticed before his brother got home. The first thing he lent me was the Garage Days EP and my life was changed forever. I became obsessed with this band. I was always into diverse styles of music but there was something endearing and honest about four dudes with no gimmick other than ripping your face off with awesome riffs / songs. Around this time the video for "One" premiered on MuchMusic and I would obsessively watch the channel and soak in anything I could about the band. The way they explained the process of making a music video for "One" was so cool, and it is still such an intense concept to this day. These guys had it all, the riffs, the attitude and best of all creative integrity to do whatever they wanted. A few months later my parents went on a vacation to Atlantic City and returned with two cassettes for me one of which was Metallica’s …And Justice For All (the other was State Of Euphoria by Anthrax). I wore that tape ragged mesmerized by the complex yet always memorable arrangements and Kirk Hammett's incredibly emotive guitar solos. It's always held a special place in my heart and its influence rings true to this day (the intro to "Fallen To Destroy" is somewhat of an homage to how "Blackened" starts on AJFA). - Domenic Romeo, Integrity

...And Justice for All, for me, is probably Metallica’s finest hour. I love the arrangements, the snare and chug rolls which dot the album are both so catchy and machine gun-like. The really scooped production, often maligned, actually for me is one of the cool traits of this record, it bestows the music with this cold harshness, which sounds pretty sinister. As for the songs, “Blackened” is one of their finest openers, and “Dyer’s Eve” is without a doubt their best closer, and probably the most intense piece Metallica ever wrote. The title track is a behemoth of a song which perfectly matches the excellent cover art. And lastly, I think that middle melody section in “To Live is to Die” is, to me, the most completely excellent couple minutes of music Metallica ever recorded. Majestic, powerful, mournful, and monumental. - John Kevill, Warbringer

That album and the “One” video changed my life! I must’ve only been five years old, but it consumed me. Especially having MTV back then, it was on all the time. I was lucky enough to see them on this tour and it was, to this day, the most incredible show I’ve ever seen! It definitely sent me on the path I am today. Most classic metal ever in my opinion." - Richie Cavalera, Incite

I was first turned onto ...And Justice For All through the video for “One,” which 30 years later, is still one of the most politically and emotionally powerful videos I’ve seen; and Justice, itself, is overwhelmingly political. At the time that the video came out, I wasn’t that familiar with the 1971 World War I film Johnny Got His Gun, and it was the first time, outside of pictures in my large collection of rock and metal magazines, I’d ever seen the band perform. Beyond the film clips, what kept my attention was the interplay of sorrowful acoustic interludes from Kirk Hammett between the heavy riffs, Hetfield’s wide and dominating stance and Lars Ulrich’s staccato military fills. Altogether, it created this beautiful, super hyper-masculine creation that excited and scared me at the same time. Hetfield captured the panic and vulnerability of the voiceless and limbless soldier and, through that performance, he was able to capture the soldier’s panic while questioning the reasons why he ended up in the situation he was in. Never being direct by explicitly stating their political beliefs, the band didn’t have to offer a direct message to challenge the nationalistic assumption of American Exceptionalism through any means necessary. By taking on the persona of someone who served his country and through his agony, wishes to pay the ultimate price, Hetfield countered the prevailing narratives that assert masculinity while eschewing vulnerability and “weakness” that no (it was thought) American soldier should ever feel. It's interesting how many contemporary metal fans whine that politics have no place in heavy metal. In hindsight, I guess it depends on who is pontificating over the current state of affairs. - Laina Dawes, author of What are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

Man, ...And Justice For All had such an enormous impact on me growing up. I got into music, and metal specifically, at a very young age. I turned 7 toward the end of 1986 and Master of Puppets was all I listened to back then. But I remember when the video for “One” came out on MTV. Finally I got to see what my heroes looked like when they played! I would draw them and their logo on all of my notebooks and restaurant placemats. I could draw the shit out of James Hetfield’s white ESP Explorer at 9 years old, haha. I remember the day my dad finally took me to the mall to get the tape in ‘88. The anticipation was killing me. The album didn’t disappoint and it pummeled my little mind and eardrums. It was dark, heavy, bleak and matched perfectly with the brutal, snowy winters we had in Wisconsin. It was perfect. It’s STILL perfect. I have Metallica and this album to thank for setting me on the path that eventually led me to my dreams. A true masterpiece. 11/10. - Josh Portman, Yellowcard

I heard it before it was out. I was driving in a car, I believe, in the Netherlands with a friend of mine who was the editor of a magazine called Aardschok, which was a Dutch metal publication. My friend Mike, who still runs that magazine, he had an advance of the record and we were driving in his car and he didn’t even tell me what it was. He just put it on and “Blackened” kicked in, and I was like, ‘Wait, what is this? Isn’t this Metallica?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah.’ Then I said, ‘What is this, like a demo of the new album or something?’; because the production sounded weird to me, to be honest. And he was like, ‘No, this is the album. They sent it to us to review for the magazine.’ But when “Blackened” kicked in, I was completely blown away by the song. I gotta admit, though, I was confused by the production. But the more and more I listen to it when I got the record when it came out, a production like that for any other band would have people going what the hell is this. But somehow those guys, once again thinking on another level, whatever it was they were going for it worked for those songs. When I hear those songs now, it makes complete sense to me, and that’s the way those songs need to sound. If you took …And Justice for All and remixed it so it would sound more like Master of Puppets or like “The Black Album,” I don’t know if it would work with those songs. Suddenly, it all made sense to me, and again, it was the case of those guys taking a left turn at a time in 1988 when a lot of thrash bands all sounded not similar but more streamlined. There was a certain formula to what a thrash record would sound like in 1988, and they veered off into a new direction before anybody else did, proving once again why they are Metallica. - Scott Ian, Anthrax

Metallica's ...And Justice for All is my favorite Metallica album. I don't think it's their best album. Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets are arguably better albums, but Justice is my favorite on a personal level. I originally owned it on cassette, which was a popular format at that time. It was one of a handful of tapes I could actually hear over the sound of a lawnmower. (My brother and I dubbed this musical sub-genre "lawnmower rock".) I'm sure listening to Justice on my Sony Mega Bass Walkman while mowing lawns is largely responsible for my tinnitus. The mix on Justice is...how should I put this...unconventional. The kick drum is mixed super loud and with more treble/attack than the snare drum. The drums are super dry, too. Very up front. Someone once told me that Lars mixed the album, which might explain why the drums sound the way they do. I don't think any professional mix engineer would have made those creative mix decisions on their own. The guitars are also very dry yet sound heavily processed somehow. And, of course, the bass has been totally removed from the mix. No idea if this is true, but I always imagined that move was a tribute to Cliff Burton. The mood of the album is very, very dark. Maybe also a reaction to losing Cliff? I can only speculate. Metallica were on the brink of super-stardom and were at the top of their game. "One" was a big hit for them and brought them into the mainstream via MTV. That video was played over and over the summer of 1988. I didn't go to see them on that tour, but I wish I had. I had friends who did and they were deaf for days following the show. My wife actually saw them on that tour in Vancouver, BC. She still has a tour sweatshirt from the show! When the Black Album came out I felt totally betrayed. How had they lost the thread so completely? Why are the songs so slow? Is this even the same band?! WTF?!!! I totally wrote them off after that. It was a huge bummer. One of my favorite bands was now dead to me. Total sell outs. Oh well. At least we still have ...And Justice for All. – Phil Manley, Trans Am/Life Coach

…And Justice for All for me was a bittersweet record in time. Saddened by the loss of Cliff Burton, yet proud of our Bay Area metal kings METALLICA! The record swirled with fresh, new production ideas; so compressed sounding and over-the-top dryness in all areas including guitars. There was no room left for the bass guitar, which was weird but worked. This was their first established arena-era world tour! Their success up until that point in time was accomplished without smoking mirrors or any industry norms (videos on MTV). When they released their first video for MTV (“One”) it became a huge hit! Its success would make them an MTV for years to come. This album is a masterpiece for sure by Metallica, and I wouldn’t mind a remix of this record with Jason’s actual bass tracks, hmmm? – Eric Peterson, Testament/Dragonlord

...And Justice for All was one of the first albums I ever bought, way back when record stores were still a real thing. It was one of my first introductions to Metallica and heavy metal. All I knew of Metallica at that point was their radio stuff, like “Enter Sandman” and “Whisky in the Jar,” but one of my friends kept telling me their old stuff was different, and that I had to listen to it. Well imagine my surprise when I put on Justice, and was blown away. Needless to say I ripped off all the sleeves from all my T-shirts and instantly became a filthy metal head. It's a really cool thing too, because about decade later, Striker ended up supporting Metallica when they filmed their movie Through the Never! You never know what path music can lead you down, or what choices it will help you make. It made me want to pick up a guitar and join a band! – Tim Brown, Striker

...And Justice For All is such a technically over-the-top, super-pissed record. Everything about it screams frustration and rage, rightfully so considering the circumstances they were dealing with going into the studio. Growing up watching Metallica on MTV and trying to learn the solo to “One” came full circle when we played over 100 shows with them on their World Magnetic Tour. Getting to see them play “Blackened” and “Harvester of Sorrow” on a nightly basis was such a trip for the 25 year old me, and when The Sword covered Thin Lizzy’s “Cold Sweat” on that tour only to realize that the guitar solo in that song is the same solo as “One” was something I’ll never forget. Long live the Kings! – Kyle Shutt, The Sword

Metallica’s …And Justice for All not only inspired me to pursue a career in music, but the record literally saved my life. When I was 15 years old playing drums in a metal cover band in Long Island, a gnarly, tattooed steel worker wasted on god knows what decided I had insulted him after I misheard something he said. This 250 pound guy grabs my shirt, pulls me up to his sun burned face, and barks at me, threatening to beat me up. I tried pacify the situation by finding common ground. Turns out, he was a massive Metallica fan. I said I was sorry if I had offended him, and suggested my band play “One” to make it up to him. He was still pissed as hell, but nodded in agreement. Thankfully we nailed the song note for note, he flashed a smile in approval before tearing out the door to speed off on his Harley, and I lived to play another day. – Charlie Schmid, Del Judas

I will never forget the first time I saw the video for “One.” It was spring 1992, and I was 11 years old. The Black Album had come out in the summer of ‘91, and those videos were already in heavy rotation on MTV. Up to that time, they were the only Metallica songs that I was familiar with. Strangely, “One” came on in the middle of the afternoon that day, rather than during Headbanger’s Ball, which is when I would have expected to see some vintage thrash. Regardless, I was stoked. I had heard older Metallica was great...heavier, with longer songs than the Black Album singles...and this was my chance to see what it was all about (1992 = no internet streaming services)! The video thoroughly disturbed me, so much so that for weeks I couldn’t get the film images and overdubbed narrations from Johnny Got His Gun out of my head. The only way I could deal with how disturbed I was to constantly joke with my friends about the line, “I’m just like a piece of meat that keeps on living.” So dark! I should also note that it was the first time that I had seen a drummer play with a double bass drum. That floored me! A year or so later, I bought ...And Justice For All and loved it. I was studying jazz trumpet at the time, and many of the older musicians who I was speaking with would make comments about how rock music was so monotonous and rhythmically boring. I would play them the title track, with all of its mood and time signature changes, to prove them wrong. Although it is not as much a metal Master-piece as Metallica’s previous full length, ...And Justice For All is still an amazing spin, bass or no bass. – Tim Byrnes, Kayo Dot/Stern

Before Hetfield went full mullet, Metallica released a juggernaut with …And Justice for All. It was a teenage guitarists dream tutorial of monster thrash riffing and arrangements. The production felt just a bit colder than its predecessor Master of Puppets, and that suited me fine. Revisiting the album 30 years later I was surprised at how musical and melodic the songs actually are. Now if we could just get them to make another album with Flemming Rasmussen.... – Jason Corbett, ACTORS

In the '80s in NYC, there was a popular West Village punk/metal bar on MacDougal Street called The Scrap Bar. In NYC, the lack of any real municipal interest in upholding the drinking age laws at that time made it super easy for me to get in, even though I was only 17, 18 yrs old. So I’d go there and get exuberantly wired and drunk, listen to metal at pain volume, try to get laid, and failing that, just play the Centipede machine they had in the back. One summer night in 1988, around 1am, I was there just doing my usual thing and in walked James Hetfield... uh, HOLY SHIT! I was stunned and starstruck, having been a huge Metallica fan since ’83. They were gods to me, basically. Cliff had died two years before, so there was gigantic anticipation among everyone I knew about their “return” record. So, with all this in mind, I tried to plot my approach to him, but was so nervous that I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out a way to start a conversation that didn’t seem ridiculous… But, after like 45 mins, and fearing he might leave before I tried, I finally mustered up the courage to go try to talk to him, and this is what happened: 

ME: (feverishly, clumsily, and without introducing myself) “What’s the name of your new album?!”

JAMES: (a bemused pause) “What’s your name?” 

ME: “Um… Timo?” 

JAMES: “Timo Rocks.” 

And then he walked away. Needless to say, I felt totally idiotic and humiliated. Afterwards I think I just felt stoked that I’d even “talked” to him, and I’m pretty sure I misrepresented this exchange to all my friends as not being anywhere near as goofy as it actually was. Now, I’d say, “Hey James! Turn up the fucking bass guitar!” ("Blackened" is still my jam, though.) - Timo Ellis, Netherlands

Listened to ...And Justice for All for the first time back in middle school. Hadn't came across a record that abrasive and pissed off before. It kickstarted my obsession with weird ass tempo shifts and heavy metal gallops. Two things I'm still obsessed with today. I remember my buddy throwing it on in his basement right after we found a dumpster full of cigarette cartons and porno mags. Ended up being the soundtrack to a bunch of 12 year olds chain smoking and trading dirty ass magazines. That whole weekend, the inside of my mouth tasted like I had sucked off an exhaust pipe. Thank you Metallica, for the sore throat and tinnitus. Fantastic memories. - Mike Gustafson, Bummer

1997, I was 12. I had only just gotten into music outside of video game soundtracks. I started as a diehard Nirvana fan but mutated quickly towards Metallica. Sadly, not the best year to get into the band. I, sigh, really really loved "Unforgiven 2" and wanted to dive deeper. My cooler "friends" called me a poseur and a fake, and I, desperate to fit in did some research and bought Justice on CD from Best Buy. I kind of hated it. Well, "Blackened" was and is my favorite Metallica song, but beyond that I was just confused. It sounded weird in a way I couldn't articulate for years (WHERE IS JASON?!), and it gave me headaches. I never even made it to "Dyer's Eve." I would just get lost in the slog that is side 2. For years I didn't get it. The title track ruled, but it's like 9 minutes long. What the shit? Everything aside from my precious "Blackened" was slow and fucked. I HATED IT. Granted I also did not get Kill 'Em All until I was in my early 20s, but this was a different beast. Despite it all, the album stuck around becoming the most beat up and unplayable CD I owned, skipping ridiculously as, years later, I attempted to learn how to play the first four songs on guitar. When I was in my early 20s I took mushrooms with some friends and FREAKED out. It was a rough day and a really shitty time in my development but it kickstarted my rediscovery of metal which I had abandoned in my late teens as I explored music that was created before the '80s. From that moment forth Metallica's early shit all made sense but Justice STILL didn't resonate with me. "What is this slow plodding shit?!" I would bark at anyone willing to engage in my arguments of the supposed greatest metal band of all time. I honed farther in; "The first three albums," I said, "that's where it's at, and even then I don't care about most of Puppets." So, I go even deeper, I'm like, "Fuck everything after Ride the Lightning (BatteryPuppets, and "Blackened" excluded, of course)." At this point no one will talk to me, "Blasphemy," they say. "Your opinion is wrong," they say, but I stand firm. "NO!" I retort, "It is you who are wrong!" Time has only strengthened my convictions. Justice remains the most baffling album from my youth that I still listen to, or really reference if anything. It sounds terrible (...And Justice for Jason fixes some of these issues), it's still completely lopsided and the second half bums me out to no end, but holy fucking fuck "Blackened" is as they say, the end. It is brutal, it is probably the best Metallica song and it slays so goddamn hard that it pulls the rest of the album out of the doldrums and into my heart. But no matter how far I go, this fucking record becomes a conversation with fellow metal heads. We are equally perplexed by the other's adamant arguments as to the worthiness or shittiness of it, but one thing that cannot be denied is that it is important. What other album could possibly invoke this level of scrutiny? - Zack Weil, Oozing Wound

The "One" video was my introduction to Metallica back in '89. It was also my introduction to double bass drumming, well maybe "Hot for Teacher" was, but this grabbed my attention much faster. Van Halen was fine/fun but I got way more obsessed with Metallica as years went on. I was barely 12 years old when this album dropped. My parents didn't want me watching MTV so I had to sneak in viewings. Luckily the "One" video was on repeat daily so I got so see it a bunch. It was really like nothing else i had seen or heard before. I wasn't allowed to have their records yet, but a childhood bud down the street had it along with a giant "And Justice For All" banner he hung above his bed and covered his entire ceiling. I/we thought it was the coolest shit and it was. I would sleep over at his house on the regular and we would fall asleep to "And Justice..." on his CD player boom box. If memory is correct, my following birthday in 8th grade was when my friends bought me their back catalogue on cassette. I wore those tapes out over the years; so many memories of sitting in my old bedroom, in front of the stereo and playing the first for albums constantly. …And Justice was first though. I can't help but think it had a lasting effect on me and how I gravitated to playing music and wanting to be in more unconventional bands. – Larry Herweg, Pelican

...And Justice For All was the soundtrack for every air guitar solo on a tennis racket in front of a mirror for most European kids in the late '80s, and we were no exception. Most hardcore fans say it’s their favorite album but unfortunately for us, its biggest hit was ruined forever in our minds by this amazing shred, which makes it then impossible to watch the "One" video solemnly. A lot of people think our band name is a nod to this record, which it is not, but our social networks suffix “etjusticepourtous” is, and for that we wanna thank James, Kirk, Lars and Jason warmly. - Justice

My sister, Sunday Rose, was in a cloud of Aqua Net when I first heard this gem. She was the metal head of the household. Slayer and Sepultura posters shrouded the walls of her small room and I'd often creep in when she left for high school to steal a cassette for my Walkman. Whatever I got my hands on (usually picked by cover art) would score the terrorism I’d inflict on the neighborhood that day. I recall speeding in and out of the mazes of the row home blocks on the pegs of my fellow degenerate friends shit bicycle while blaring “Blackened” through cheap trebly headphones that when on maximum volume, would actually be painful on the ears. As we headed to the tracks to throw rocks at the passing trains, ventured into abandoned buildings, or cruised the Ave throwing flour and eggs at the pimps, tricks, and junkies, the end of that whole summer was owned by Metallica and …And Justice for All. – Nicky Palermo, Nothing

…And Justice for All has been, and will always be, my favorite Metallica album. I spent the summer of ‘93 rewinding that tape over and over in my parents' basement, staring at a Cherry Hill guitar tab book trying to master all those riffs. It was so different compared to all the other metal I was listening to at the time. I find some new harmony, or interplay between the guitars every time I listen to it. If riffs are king, this album is God. Happy 30th Birthday, …And Justice for All. - Nathan Garnette, Skeletonwitch

...And Justice for All is as incredible as it is insane. The sheer ambition and magnitude of the songwriting still impresses, even out of historical context. The densely layered guitars, shifting rhythms, and time signatures (my god the time signatures!) leave me more perplexed than the time Lars and Kirk seemed disproportionately excited to meet ME! Turns out they thought I was a member of Beatallica. hahaha!" - Scott Hedrick, Skeletonwitch

…And Justice for All brings me back to being outside in my backyard with my brothers on their homemade skateboard ramp. It made me think that what cool kids did was listen to Metallica. I also remember that when my older brother really got into this album he decided he wanted to paint his room black...and my parents were like, absolutely not, you can paint it baby blue. And so he did. - BETS

I was 11 years old. My mother tasked me with the world’s most unbearable chore...mowing the lawn. Luckily, there were two factors working in my favor. My family owned an old riding mower and I was about to take my first crack at an album I was very excited about. Metallica's …And Justice for All was all cued up on what is now the world’s oldest MP3 player. I started the mower and took off at top speed (8 miles an hour.) I hit play. "Blackened" took too long to get started so i skipped it. The title track hit me and it was the most amazing thing I had ever heard. I looked down at my MP3 player. It had a little digital display that scrolled incredibly slowly. I stared at it as Metallica went by, then went the album title. The song title was next. Before I realized ...And Justice for All was also the name of the track, I crashed into a tree. The album made a huge impact on me and my family's landscaping equipment. – Mark Quinlan, Hop Along

…And Justice for All was the first Metallica cassette I bought. Keep in mind, this was back before the Black Album when they became a mainstream MTV band and pastel-wearing girls began listening to them. At the time of Justice, people thought you were a burnout or a metalhead if you listened to bands like Metallica. I remember playing them in my dorm room and this obnoxious jock walked by and said I didn’t look like “the type” to listen to Metallica. I was blown away the first time I saw the video for “One” with those somber, dramatic scenes from the war film Johnny Got His Gun. Justice was their last thrash metal album (until Death Magnetic) and in songs like “Frayed Ends of Sanity,” I was struck by the clever hooks underneath the crunching chords and virtuoso licks. I saw them at the Orange County Speedway in Middletown on that tour and even though I was not yet familiar with most of their back catalog it was a great concert; surprisingly accessible. I just like all kinds of good music. I should say I think I also saw Chuck Mangione that summer as well. – Rob Kirkpatrick, author of 1969: The Year Everything Changed

I grew up an only child so I didn’t have an older sibling to introduce me to music that my parents may have deemed “inappropriate." I remember hearing about Metallica through a friend at school and secretly digging through their discography, borrowing records and hiding them so my parents wouldn’t see, the thrill of which lent to my giddiness in playing their music. …And Justice for All was unlike anything I had ever heard. Aggressive, heavy, unapologetic. The material was dense and the songs long; “Blackened" as the complex opener followed by the almost ten-minute long majestic title track was brilliant. Needless to say, it totally opened my mind to different styles of music, and changed my views on writing and performing in an authentic voice. I have Metallica to thank for that. – Lea Cappelli aka L’FREAQ​

The video for “One” was exactly what every Metallica fan hoped for; being their first video, it was beyond perfect that they chose to ignore current trends at the time and went very dark. I was literally speechless the first time I saw it. The entire approach was so original. One would think all the dialogue from the movie Johnny Got His Gun intertwined into the track might ruin the musical masterpiece. However, it just completely enhanced it. It felt like a massive statement from the band signifying, “We are not here for the fame, we take risks, and we are fucking pissed.” I’d go as far to say it’s the best heavy metal video of all time. — John Boecklin, Bad Wolves

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