...And Justice For All
Or the “You Damned and F**ing World” album
Well…Here’s a bad luck which creates a great lack : Cliff.
Maybe Justice is not the right Metallica work to talk about Cliff…But sometimes, there is leverage less obvious than expected.
Cliff is not here….But we still are…(damn???). And the damned and f**cked world is still here (start counting how many times the “F” word will come to your lips…).
Metallica at Justice are pissed off : about the society, the unfair and cruel world, the destruction of the environment and the planet, the warlords…oh, just almost everything.
And they are pretty determined to spit it all out in one record. You feel the nerve and you like it, because it has a motive, a cause and a reason of existence.
It was not until quite recently that I realized, that this specific record, moved my interest, more because of what I suspected, than because what was obvious.
Want to make a list? It is the “post Master of Puppets” era, which put the word “RESPECT” with capital letters under the name of Metallica, an out-of-this-world-personality and great musician is gone and some new guy is here to play bass guitar for the band…Metallica have to prove that they are here, no matter what, alive and kicking.
Is it arrogance knocking on their door? It may sound “bad” but it is declared as “true” by the band itself.
Every track in Justice is an “in your face” track. F**ck the lyrics… Inspiration can come from anything around you, you just put the words on a paper and then match them with your music. But the music…That is the issue : all the ideas, all the riffs, we will put it all in this record. The more complicated it is, the more intricate it becomes. If Justice could be a one and only unique song, it would be. As a matter of fact, there are so many changing and shifting staff in every song of the record, that every track could produce at least ten separate new tracks.
Some days ago, while I was reading the band’s review regarding the Black Album in the «So What» magazine (note : special magazine issued by the MetClub for its members) , I realized that the band themselves did a great deal of recalling, a quite often back and forth between Justice and Black. Consciously or not, Justice was the most “primitive” extrovert band’s expression. And a pretty arrogant one….
As Lars states, when the record went out for the Justice tour, there were almost after every show the same talk between the band : “you f**cked this, you f**cked that, you forgot that part…”. To make a long story short, they literally “put themselves in the snake pit”, by producing overloaded and very (very!!) long songs.
As James said, after Dyers Eve, “you go hospital”.
As I have already mentioned, Justice is a record which, for many years, was a great mind trouble for me : on the one hand, what is this whole composing uproar, with the 90% of the track lacking –at least- a lyrics structure??!! On the other hand, I swear on my very breath, that my life would be a lot and by far crappier, without the mind-blowing Harvester, One, Blackened…
It was this turmoil of questions that made me decide to address Fotis Benardo (Septic Flesh), in order to discover how the issue is appreciated and approached, by a person with a great and better knowledge than me, regarding music know-how, but who, at the same time is a “metalli-friend”.
It is true that every time metallifans talk , the hardest thing is to keep the conversation away of “cliches” as “…it is the history of music” , “that is the staff that I grew up with” and “there is a deep connection with the Metallica songs”.
So, in a nutshell, here we have the first approach :
F : “The first time I’ve listened to Justice, was at the age of 10-11, with my brother, in Salonica. The first track I’ve heard was Harvester (as a matter of fact, a friend told us that the song’s name was HOMESTER of Sorrow, and we spend some time “searching” for the song…), but my favorite song was Blackened. When you are that young of age, and you listen to something like Justice, you try to play the songs on the guitar, on the drums, you search for the lyrics to read them…Everything is spectacular!!
Time and experience make you go deeper : Justice, for the time it was produced, it was technically excellent.
It is now that you can see that there is a clear lack of bass , a great deal of studio edits and a rather “unorthodox” song structure, considering the “paths” a “commercial production” usually has.
Compared to the Master of Puppets, Justice is the natural continuation, regarding sound, speed and compositions. And surely, in Black, Metallica are “a different band”, with more mid tempo and steady compositions and more correct “paths”.
Of course, you love every piece of work for its unique character.
Master of Puppets made Metallica huge, so Justice had already an identity.
But Justice is more “aggressive”, more “bullying”…maybe because of Cliff….”.
Needless to say that Fotis’ spontaneous reference to Cliff, was “the days delight” for me, as my own thoughts brought the connection between the record and the person (Justice & Cliff) almost since…ever. Let me also make the note about the weirdness of the coincidence : the conversation took place on Sept.27th , a date that “the memory remains” for all the Metallica-world.
That brings me back to my aforementioned thoughts; Metallica are PISSED OFF. Firstly, since Cliff is not here, f**uck the damn bass out of the record.
Secondly, the band, most of all James, who is not yet at the “lyrics for the inside world” path, keeps a whole anger “storm” in his head; as if he hadn’t already lost important people from his life, he lost his friend and band-mate too. He wants to rock and start a war against the “damned and f**cked up world” .
Except One and Harvester, the rest of the album tracks, at least regarding their lyric structure, are for sure “unorthodox” (if I may use Fotis’ word, who, by the way does not exempt Harvester from this “unorthodox” structure). Justice songs are fast, hard and powerful, but they literally lack a beginning-middle-end structure.
Maybe…because that is EXACTLY what the band needed : to rock themselves (and everyone else) out….
But let’s see the rest of the conversation, because the reference to Cliff’s name opened new windows : so, what is the Justice today?
F : “Some years ago, when Justice was made, the bands reaching the top were few. Nowadays, the musicians evolve greatly and a great load of music information is available. If a kid listens to Justice today, maybe it will not blow his mind; he has already listened to a whole bunch of things , more modern productions and updated sound. It is the same as if someone listens to old rock or blues; while this is the very music that inspired bands as Led Zeppelin, it may sound uninteresting to him.
Justice songs’ topics are timeless. One, for example, is the “incarnation” of the book into music (the anti-war novel of the American novelist and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, “Johnny Got His Gun”).
Today, with all that over-exposure to violence images and information, I don’t know if the One video would create the same huge impression; it is such the power of the song though, that it would definitely be remarked”.
All that said, I do have now a very clear view of what the Justice is : it is a “wild ride”.
Like the 50cc bike you had at your teens, like the speed-killer “street” bike at your later-teens, or the cool-cool-born-to-be-wild chopper you always fancy. It does not matter. You just like it because it keeps your head clear of sh**t and you don’t care if there are structures and must-have’s.
Dear Mother…Dear Father…Justice is a killer album JUST BECAUSE.