What's the deal with Metallica's ...And Justice for All??

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oceanblood
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What's the deal with Metallica's ...And Justice for All??

Post by oceanblood » Fri May 16, 2008 7:27 pm

First off, I am a musician.
Now, ..And Justice... is hands down my favorite Metallica album, but when I started getting into audio production it seems like everybody I meet hates this album (I guess from a producer/engineer standpoint?).

So my question is this:
Is it in fact true that And Justice is generally despised in the audio community, or maybe I just met a few cats that don't like the album?
AND.. (here's the important part) if this is true, what SPECIFICALLY is so wrong with the recording?
To me it sounds clear, clean, and tight, and given the technical nature of the music I feel like that is appropriate.

Maybe I'm just biased because the album meant so much to me growing up? Or because I am a guitar player? Ha!

Anyway, I would like to know what you all think, perhaps there is something my green ears aren't able to detect yet??

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Post by RoyMatthews » Fri May 16, 2008 7:39 pm

I've grown out of my Metallica listening days so it's been awhile since I gave that goose a gander but I remember it being very bass light. I never cared and neither did 98% of people who aren't audio engineers. That's the way they wanted it at the time.
I know Bob Rock didn't like it and thought they should have a 'bigger' sound but he was selling himself at the time so take it with a grain of salt.

I've never heard anyone really vehemently not liking the sound of the record. It was what metal was 'supposed' to sound like in 1989 (was that when it came out?). People violently hate the sound of St Anger though.
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Re: What's the deal with Metallica's ...And Justice for All?

Post by caffiend2049 » Fri May 16, 2008 11:23 pm

oceanblood wrote:
Maybe I'm just biased because the album meant so much to me growing up? Or because I am a guitar player? Ha!
I think you've hit the nail on the head.
I remember being so excited when this record finally came out....and loved it (how could I not)
but really...with open ears - listen to MOP and the AJFA back to back....which one sounds better?

Now it may be due to my changing tastes at the time....but even having been a sooper fan of Metallica in the late 80's - by the time the black album came out, I had no interest in purchasing it.
And while I still get nostalgic when listening to Justice....I honestly think it sounds like shit.

Maybe it's why I became a bass player?
bigger and better....sooner than later

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Post by Jay Reynolds » Sat May 17, 2008 7:22 am

For me, its the kick drum. Very click-ey and not rockin. I imagine its due to Lars being a giant pain in the ass during mixdown.
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Post by punkrockdude » Sat May 17, 2008 10:10 am

RoyMatthews wrote:I know Bob Rock didn't like it and thought they should have a 'bigger' sound but he was selling himself at the time so take it with a grain of salt.
I am quite sure that Bob Rock first worked with Metallica on their The Black/Metallica album from 1991 and ...And Justice For All came out in 1988 if I am not wrong. I always thought that Flemming Rasmussen produced the ...And Justice For All album. Regards

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Post by RoyMatthews » Sat May 17, 2008 10:21 am

punkrockdude wrote:
RoyMatthews wrote:I know Bob Rock didn't like it and thought they should have a 'bigger' sound but he was selling himself at the time so take it with a grain of salt.
I am quite sure that Bob Rock first worked with Metallica on their The Black/Metallica album from 1991 and ...And Justice For All came out in 1988 if I am not wrong. I always thought that Flemming Rasmussen produced the ...And Justice For All album. Regards
Yeah, that's what I meant though. When they were looking to new producers for what would be the 'Black' album Bob Rock's selling point was to make a bigger sounding album and that '...AJfA' didn't represent the 'real' Metallica sound. Flemming did AJFA and Master of Puppets (and Ride? i dunno). MoP sounds best to me so I think the sound of AJFA is what the band wanted. I'm sure it has to do with the whole Jason Newstead/Cliff Burton thing.
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Post by klangtone » Sat May 17, 2008 11:29 am

Yeah, I've always wondered about this album too. I used to be a big Metallica fan...

AJFA always sounded so thin. But in some sense, it does work for the music. I bet it probably sounds better when cranked cause your ear responds more to bass when things are louder. So maybe they intended that. Kind of like the thread going on elsewhere about My Bloody Valentine's Loveless...

Does anyone know if it was recorded analog or digital?
One theory I had was that the thinness was partially due to early digital gear or something. But I doubt it would be that extreme...

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Post by tonic889 » Sat May 17, 2008 2:26 pm

Though I've never listened to the album on a "hi-fi" system, the bass guitar seems buried so far down that Jason Newsted might as well have not shown up in the studio for this album. Somewhere I saw Lars and/or James give an interview where they pretty much admitted that turning down the bass on the album was one of the ways they were "hazing" the new guy in the band.

IMHO, I don't care for the production on the album. Which is a shame, because the musicianship is fantastic.

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Post by caffiend2049 » Sat May 17, 2008 3:42 pm

tonic889 wrote:Though I've never listened to the album on a "hi-fi" system, the bass guitar seems buried so far down that Jason Newsted might as well have not shown up in the studio for this album. Somewhere I saw Lars and/or James give an interview where they pretty much admitted that turning down the bass on the album was one of the ways they were "hazing" the new guy in the band.

IMHO, I don't care for the production on the album. Which is a shame, because the musicianship is fantastic.
I've seen/heard that bandied about quite a lot and it may be true - but it seems like a pretty big gamble to sabotage the sound on your forthcoming DOUBLE album to "haze the new guy."
Especially since they had already released the Garage Days ReRevisited EP which prominantly featured Jason. Seems like THAT would have been a better time for hijinks.
Methinks they just fell asleep at the wheel and either steered the album down that path or were led in that direction by the producer. When the "overly treble-y" criticism was leveled - they covered.
Whatever the case, it paid off in sales (even if it doesn't have a great-sonic legacy)
bigger and better....sooner than later

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Post by RefD » Sat May 17, 2008 8:34 pm

according to period interviews i've read about the making of AJFA, there was no bass guitar (rhythm guitar EQed for extra low end instead) and the kick was from a Simmons kit.

those were the bits that bugged most ppl at the time.

as i've never been a fan i couldn't care less.
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lancebug
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Post by lancebug » Sat May 17, 2008 8:58 pm

tonic889 wrote:Somewhere I saw Lars and/or James give an interview where they pretty much admitted that turning down the bass on the album was one of the ways they were "hazing" the new guy in the band.
That seems hard to believe...James and Lars both seem too cool and smart to pull any bullshit like that....

Sorry, I meant to say that seems about right. Even if its not true I still think its as probable as any other reason. Those guys define the term "douchebag"

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Post by Alex Netick » Sun May 18, 2008 12:06 am

I used to see Metallica when they were starting out in small clubs, and I never thought they were one of the better metal bands that played in the Keystone Berkeley, let alone a great band. Unlike a few other bands that came through the clubs (e.g., the Mentors, or Exodus), they didn't even have a sense of humor about what they were doing.

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Post by Toddf » Sun May 18, 2008 1:40 am

I think it works. Of course there is no bass guitar but it is what it is. I listen to it often and like it.
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Post by Knight79 » Mon May 19, 2008 6:41 am

I like the way it sounds and the whole feel of the album. To me it almost has a DIY metal aesthetic to it......there is no bass though and I don't even re-call hearing a bass guitar.

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Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Mon May 19, 2008 7:25 am

This might clarify: In the VH1 Classic Albums about the self-titled, and in the documentary where they hire a shrink to help them record St Anger, they allude to the 'no bass' situation. The Classic Albums doc was made first and at that time they were still promoting the idea that it was a mutual decision to keep the bass at inaudible levels; by the time the shrink had drawn them out and Jason had split they were more willing to admit that it was a hazing/mourning Cliff sort of thing.

Bob Rock somehow always ends up getting all the credit whenever something goes well for them, which actually seems fair to me. Anybody who can manage Lars and James and their huge egos in a collaborative situation, and actually make something cool out of the whole process, is by definition underpaid.

I can't listen to Justice for All because it sounds like ass. Maybe it sounded better when it was released on cassette, which was really the intended delivery system at the time it was recorded anyway.

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