And Justice For All is so precisely rendered, so expertly conceived, and so flawlessly executed that listening to it is the musical equivalent of watching an Olympic team perform in an event for which it spent years training. Which in a way, it is.
And Justice For All is the kind of album that could only be made by a veteran band with years of recording and playing experience under its belt. The band reacted to the death of bassist Cliff Burton with a demonstration of pure prowess, both as a way of coping with the loss and of convincing themselves and their listeners that they could be just as fierce even without Burton. While the majority of the album is focused and cerebral to the a degree of pure terror, there is one outpouring of emotion with the hit single One. Even though the song takes its inspiration from the World War II novel Johnny Got His Gun, Kirk Hammets solos and James Hetfields tremendous vocal performance reveal an poignant response to Burtons death. With its next album, the band would further explore the emotional, riff-heavy template of One, leaving the rest of
And Justice For All to stand as the insurmountable pinnacle of progressive thrash metal.