As usual, it's best to just step aside and let MTV do my talking for me. From MTV.com:
[Today] marks the 20th anniversary of Metallica's ... And Justice for All. Not only was it Metallica's first LP following the untimely passing of bassist Cliff Burton, it shot straight to #6 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum just nine weeks after it first hit stores.
The now-classic album signaled many other firsts for Metallica: It was the first record to feature new bassist Jason Newsted, it netted them their first Grammy nomination, and it featured the single "One," for which they shot their first-ever music video. Since its release, Justice has scanned more than 8 million copies in the U.S. alone.
"Justice obviously was a huge record for us. ... We took the Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets concept as far as we could take it," drummer Lars Ulrich reflected. "There was no place else to go with the progressive, nutty, sideways side of Metallica, and I'm so proud of the fact that, in some way, that album is kind of the epitome of that progressive side of us up through the '80s."
Ulrich continues: "It's aged quite well. There's a certain kind of specific sound to that record, peculiar sound — whichever adverb* you want to choose — that's given it a kind of life of its own and a little bit of a vibe all its own. There have been a lot of great musicians we admire who've come up and talked about what a great inspiration that album has been to them and to their sound. It's obviously awesome to be part of that. That album also sent us on this whole other merry way, because when we came back from touring on that record in 1989, we were like, 'We have nothing more to offer on this side of Metallica,' and that set us off on some other adventures."
According to frontman James Hetfield, Justice provided a showcase for what Metallica were capable of — both as a band and as individual players.
"That album, songwriting-wise, it was just us really showing off and trying to show what we could do," he said. " 'We've jammed six riffs into one song? Let's make it eight. Let's go crazy with it.' I listen to some of that stuff, and it's pretty progressive. Sonically, it has its shortcomings, but that is the one where we were able to step forward from Puppets, and we were out on the road a lot during that record. That's when we first had major stage shows, with pyro and things falling, and that's when we started to get into more of the theatrics.
"We mixed that record while we were on the road." Hetfield continued. "That's not an excuse for the way that it sounds, but our ears were beat. Anywhere I go, whenever I ask someone what their favorite record is, someone's bound to say Justice. It's pretty great that, across the line, someone can jump into your history and feel comfortable."
But is Justice Hetfield's favorite work?
"Not so much," he confessed. "I'd have to go song by song. ... I was just listening to [1997's] ReLoad, and there are a couple of songs on there that I think are absolutely brilliant. But as an album itself, and as a time, [Justice] just isn't a good memory for me. But those songs are good. I have to try and erase the memory of that experience somehow and let the songs take me."
Wherever they're being held captive, the real members of the late, great Metallica must be upset to see these imposters relishing the praise for their crowning achievement, the god-slaying ...And Justice For All. These phonies keep saying that Justice represented the full potential of their progressive side; decode these statements in light of the post-Justice Mitstallica and it's easy to hear the unspoken truth: they had erroneously assumed that since Puppets was huge, an extension of that sound would make them huger. When Justice failed to earn them mega-success, it dawned on them that the world's shoppers like stupid, basic shit. And thus, LarsCorp. was born.
*He means 'adjective.'