James Hetfield has defended the sound of METALLICA’s “…And Justice For All” album, saying that he and his bandmates simply “wanted the best-sounding record” they could make.
While “…And Justice For All” is considered one of METALLICA’s classics, it has been criticized almost since the day it was released in 1988 for the lack of any bass guitar on the record. Jason Newsted’s playing is virtually buried in the mix — and many fans feel that drummer Lars Ulrich, who had very specific ideas for how he wanted his drums to sound, is to blame.
Asked in an interview with the METALLICA fan magazine So What! if Jason ever approached him and Lars to say that the bass was lower in the mix than he had expected, Hetfield said: “He probably did. I don’t know what my answer was then, but it was kinda done. I mean, I will say, it was not all about, ‘Fuck him. Let’s turn him down.’ That’s for sure. We wanted the best-sounding record we could make. That was our goal. We were burnt. We were frigging fried. Going back and forth [between touring and mixing the album]. Playing a gig. No earplugs, no nothing. You go back into the studio, your hearing is shot. If your ears can’t hear any high end anymore, you’re gonna turn it up. So we’re turning the high end up more and more and more and all of a sudden, low end’s gone. So I know that played a bigger part than any hazing or any ill feelings towards Jason, for sure. We were fried. We were burnt.”