Exclusive: James Hetfield of Metallica Reflects on "…And Justice for All"
Thu, 07 Nov 2013 08:01:47
It's been 25 years since Metallica unleashed ...And Justice for All, and the album's impact only grows stronger as the years go on.
In many ways, it's the bridge between the classically tinged thrash mastery of Master of Puppets and the immortal groove brilliance of The Black Album. It sits in the middle of two pillar evolutions in the storied history of the greatest heavy metal band of all-time. However, …And Justice for All stands alone not only for the "four horsemen", but in the rock 'n' roll pantheon.
With its expansive scope, orchestral magnificence, and unbridled anger, …And Justice for All is arguably the greatest heavy metal record ever. This was Metallica at their rawest and also most progressive. The gut answer to what's the greatest Metallica (or metal) album usually is Master of Puppets, but twenty-five years later, there's a case to be made for …And Justice for All.
This is in fact the album that gave us "One" and moreover the masterpiece of a title track hammering out nine minutes of metallic bliss. Then, of course, there's the poetic "To Live Is to Die" instrumental, which could bring tears to any headbanger's eyes. Metallica's most visceral, vicious, and violent moment happens during the blood-soaked conclusion "Dyers Eve". It's heavier than anything else out there—ever—in terms of lyrical, speed, and bombast. Now, that's a metal album…
In honor of 25 years of Justice, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief spoke to Metallica main man James Hetfield about their recent film Through The Never and …And Justice for All. Hetfield offers some insight into "Doris", who was recently brought back from the dead for the film, and the album itself.
How similar was "Doris" on stage in Through The Never to the statue during the …And Justice For All tour?
My visions of "Lady Justice" in the old days touring on the …And Justice for All tour are of the guys manually pulling her apart to make her fall and pushing her. Obviously, nowadays, technology is way better. "Doris" or "Lady Justice" is blinded, but there's money flying out. She's got her eyes opened a little bit under there. She's on steroids now [Laughs]. She went from about twenty-five feet up to fifty-something feet. She's doubled in size and is as ominous as ever. When she falls, she falls wherever she wants to fall. The head ended up knocking Lars's drums over at one show in Mexico City during some of the trial runs. It ended up in the crowd. People were very cordial and gave her back. You've got a giant head that's the size of a car coming at you into the crowd. It's the most dangerous stage in rock 'n' roll.
…And Justice for All is a very special record in the Metallica catalog. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the album now?
I agree. It wasn't the first time with Jason Newsted, but it was the first real studio record he showed up and kind of was heard on the album [Laughs]. That's another whole therapy session right there! Touring that thing, I think of it as our fancy, showing-off album, "We're crazy progressive musicians. We really know how to play here!" [Laughs] Making that work into this is a challenge, and I love that part of it.
You mentioned the more progressive element of …And Justice For All. It's definitely prevalent, but if you listen to "Dyers Eve", it's the most metal song ever…
I would have to agree that it's pretty intense lyrically, sonically, and ability-wise with the playing, especially on the drums. It's remarkable. We've played that song live before. It's not on this live album though.
What's your favorite Metallica album? Is …And Justice For All their best?
See more with James Hetfield in our exclusive interview!