Metallica’s James Hetfield explains why ‘Justice’ album has no bass

Posted by on August 12, 2019

Last year, Metallica celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of their fourth studio effort, 1988’s …And Justice For All by reissuing the classic record as a special box set edition. While this remastered version didn’t come with a remix, fans still want to know what really happened to the bass on the original mix. Producer Flemming Rasmussen has previously expressed it was the band’s decision to turn down Jason Newsted’s tracks. Mixer Steve Thompson has previously chimed in revealing drummer Lars Ulrich is to blame. Now, in a recent interview on the group’s So What! Magazine, James Hetfield said they were too “fried.”

Hetfield commented:

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. 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.”

Later Hetfield compared remixing the song would be like making Mona Lisa smile more:

“For sure. Yeah. I mean as far as Flemming goes it was always painless and easy. He would easily latch onto where you were going and what you were thinking, and he wanted it to sound good too. There were disagreements and we worked through ’em. There were no disagreements I recall around …And Justice for All. All this [bass discussion – ED] is after the fact, and it’s like who gives a shit, man, really? 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?”


Metallica have recently grossed more than $70 million on their summer European WorldWired trek. Shortly after the group’s return, a woman named Dee Gallant made headlines after she posted a video of her standoff with a cougar and eventually used Metallica’s “black” album to shoo it away. The news got around to Hetfield as he recently reached out to her on the phone.

Next month, Metallica will be joined by the San Francisco Symphony orchestra for the first time in twenty years for the Grand Opening of San Francisco’s Chase Center on September 6th as well as the 8th. Following the two night event, the group’s performance will make it to the big screen for one night only in 3000 select theaters on October 9th



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