SYSTEM OF A DOWN's JOHN DOLMAYAN Says '...And Justice For All' Is METALLICA's Best Album: 'It's Them At Their Most Perfect'

April 18, 2020

SYSTEM OF A DOWN drummer John Dolmayan has praised METALLICA's "...And Justice For All" album, calling it "the most complete set of songs" the California metal legends have ever written.

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.

Speaking to Metal Hammer magazine about the 10 records that changed his life, Dolmayan said about "...And Justice For All": "Apart from the fact that there is no bass on it, it is the most complete set of songs that that band has ever written — the most complete, the most complex. There was so much fire in their bellies as they had just lost [bassist] Cliff Burton. So, I think emotionally, it was where they were at their best. But for me, it's them at their most perfect. Nothing can come before and nothing has come since where they nailed it. They extended everything, and for me, it is their apex."

In a 2015 interview with Ultimate Guitar, Steve Thompson, one of the "...And Justice For All" mixers suggested that Ulrich was the culprit for the lack of any bass guitar on the record, claiming that Lars wanted his drums to sound a certain way — even if it meant cutting out the bass. Thompson said that he spoke out because he was tired of being blamed for the lack of bass. He remarked: "They flew us out [to METALLICA's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction in 2009] and I'm sitting with Lars. He goes, 'Hey, what happened to the bass in 'Justice'?' He actually asked me that. I wanted to cold cock him right there. It was a shame because I'm the one getting the shit for the lack of bass."

Ulrich told The Pulse Of Radio a while back that fans were extremely vocal about the sound of the album at the time of its release. "I mean, it was unbelievable, you know, '...And Justice For All', " he said. "People were saying, 'That's the worst-sounding record, where's the bass, and it sounds like it was recorded in a garage, and...' But, you know, listen, you do the best you can in the moment and then you move on."

Last year, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield dismissed calls for METALLICA to remix "…And Justice For All" so that Newsted's contributions are more audible.

"All this [bass discussion] is after the fact, and it's, like, who gives a shit, man, really?" Hetfield said. "And why would you change that? Why would you change history? Why would you all of a sudden put bass on it? There is bass on it, but why would you remix an album? You can remaster it, yes, but why would you remix something and make it different? It'd be like… I don't know. Not that I'm comparing us to the Mona Lisa, but it's, like, 'Uh, can we make her smile a little better?!' You know?! Why?"

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