In the same conversation in which he revealed that he voted in favor of remixing Metallica's famously bass-less ...And Justice for All album, Kirk Hammett also offered a new reason as to why the band landed on such a unique sound for the album: Lars Ulrich was taking drum lessons.
Based on comments by ...And Justice for All engineers Toby Wright and Steve Thompson, we know that Ulrich was the driving force behind minimizing Jason Newsted's bass in the mix. Thompson recalls Ulrich arriving at mixing sessions with photographs of an EQ setup, as direction for how he wanted his drums to sound. That, of course, came at the expense of Newsted's bass.
Hammett tells Dean Delray's Let There Be Talk that Ulrich was inspired from taking lessons again, and that made him push the band into more unconventional rhythmic territory. It's no leap to imagine that the additional focus on drums spurred Ulrich's obsession with the sound of his kit on the record.
"We just wanted to be as weird as we could," Hammett said. "And at that particular point in time, a lot of what was popular then was music that really showed-off musicianship...Lars was taking drum lessons from Joe Satriani's drummer [Jeff Campitelli] and so he had just a whole new perspective and approach on his drums. So we wanted to implement that musicianship into the sound..."
The band's intent to bring thrash metal into more progressive territory was not new, but it reached its zenith on ...And Justice for All.
The complex song arrangements on the album remain a point of pride for Newsted himself, who doesn't waste any worry on the album's final mix — even though its not his favorite.
"It stands up over time," Newsted told Loudwire in 2013. "Maybe not the mix, but the songs do. The impact that it made, the mark that it made. The mathematical part of it, how far we went with the eight-minute song with 17 time signature [changes]. Who's idea was that?!"
Metallica remains uncertain about what it will do next, following a three-year tour in support of Hardwired...to Self-Destruct. Front man James Hetfield recently said that he's certain the band will begin planning something this year, but he can't be sure what the future holds.
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