The 4th in a series of 30th anniversary albums, the ‘…And Justice For All’ box set provides fans with an overload of material celebrating the legacy created by their first Grammy nominated album, which went on to sell over 8 million copies. The overall deluxe package includes the remastered album on 180 gram vinyl as well as CD, a 3 LP live album of the Seattle set that was originally included in the VHS box set ‘Live Sh*t: Binge and Purge’, a 10” picture disc of the One single, 11 CD’s and 4 DVDs of demos, interviews and live footage, an MP3 download card as well as a giant book full of studio photos, notes and interviews; various posters, tour laminate, patches all in a nice convenient package.
The main focal point of the entire box set is the remastered version of the album itself. While some fair-weather fans will scoff at it not being a remixed copy, the remastered version offers a modern punch to the already powerful mix. Everything sounds more pronounced and less muddy compared to the old cassette I played out back in the day. The modern touch helped lift and minor mastering adjustments applied helped clean up parts and give them clarity. As a long time favorite album of mine, I was very satisfied with the final product of this, which can be purchased outside of this package if the overall package is a bit expensive.
The “One” single picture disc seems to be lacking, as many vinyl collectors will tell you, picture discs don’t effectively cater to a better audio experience, it’s more for aesthetics, you’re better off listening to the album version than that, but on the plus side you do get a cool “Seek and Destroy” live track here from 1989. Speaking of Live Stuff, there’s more than enough here to cover this era with tunes they almost never bust out with multiple stops where the title track is performed in full, including other tracks that are seldom played nowadays from the older first 3 albums. The Seattle vinyl from the ‘Live Sh*t’ box set is very cool with the remastered audio, however, a remastered Blu-ray of it probably would’ve been cooler seeing as most fans that originally bought that box set wore out their VHS’ tapes and the DVD version didn’t exactly offer that much of an audio uplift like they gave here.
The demos and rough mixes are a different breed altogether but should be a huge part of your listening engagement when diving into this massive collection of content. The demos are early stages of the songs, some like “Shortest straw” seem a bit odd, as the early version doesn’t have the key change the final did. The Rough mixes are probably something the fans that find ‘Justice’s’ lack of bass disturbing somewhat favorable. The bass isn’t super audible in everything, but little accents here and there show a little of what Jason did, but to some degree the long standing comments about frequencies bleeding over into the guitars seems very true. The Rough mixes also are missing some vocal parts, like chorus’ or entire sections all together. You can hear certain effects or extra production wasn’t added at all yet, in addition to most solos missing, with the exception of “One” which has an alternate take on one of the earlier solos with a different tailed outro that’s really neat to hear. Overall the lack of solos on the rough mixes had me singing the solos myself. There are parts like on “One” where the drums sounded very different, a lot more present in the mix, and less dime click tappy like the final mix presented. I wouldn’t say the rough mixes would be your substitute for the final, but it does provide a nice insight you didn’t know existed.
The picture book is really cool, with a few minor sections omitting some cool stuff, like it would’ve been great to have individual band comments including something from Jason, but much like the infamous Lars drum E.Q. picture it was sadly omitted. The closest you get to interviews is the DVD portion which includes the original ‘2 of One’ VHS as well as long lost interviews which were more than likely available via bootlegs or those older interview CDs, member those? I won’t go to deep into other DVD content as it’s easier to explore these on your own, but you do get a wealth of material on those DVD’s as well as CDs thanks to Metallica’s early adoption of the tapers section at concerts.
Despite some of it’s minor omissions, this is a pretty super huge package worthy of any true fan’s collection. Have to admit, even though I’ve been burned quite a bit with older remastered recordings over the years, listening back to one of your all time favorites presented in this package was a very welcome listen. With all the other extras this is probably the ultimate in fan satisfaction and other bands should take note.