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A Closer Look at The Artwork for METALLICA's …And Justice for All

“The visual acts as a very simple representation of political and legal injustice,” says the album’s Art Director, Roger Gorman.

“The visual acts as a very simple representation of political and legal injustice,” says the album’s Art Director, Roger Gorman.

…And Justice For Art is a one-of-a-kind collection of stories, stunning graphics, and revealing interviews about the making of some of the most iconic album covers in the history of heavy metal music, featuring the stories behind some of your favorite cover art from bands like Slayer, Carcass, Morbid Angel, At the Gates and many book. The being released on April 15th through Handshake Inc. Get more info here.

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Today, we present this exclusive excerpt focusing on Metallica's …And Justice For All:

Many people refer to …And Justice For All as ‘the Metallica album featuring practically no bass guitar.’

Opinions about this controversial subject are usually divided. Some believe this was a symbolic gesture to honor the memory of their fallen bassist and father-like-figure, Cliff Burton, who died in a bus accident while touring Europe in 1986. Others interpreted it as a conscious production misstep that was part of the cathartic experience that meant substituting Burton with ex-Flotsam And Jetsam’s four stringer, Jason Newsted.

Regardless who’s right or why they did it, the truth is that the American quartet’s fourth album proved to be another landmark in their career. For them, it was the perfect opportunity to prove that, despite any obstacle, they would go on.

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One of the album’s undeniable highlights was the use of the cover artwork to deliver an effective socio-political message. Sure, Metallica had previously explored the consequences of war and the presence of unseen forces manipulating human lives on the cemetery setting of Master of Puppets’ sleeve. However, the metaphorical strength of that artwork was no competition for the incendiary and still current significance of …And Justice For All’s cover.

Based on a concept by drummer, Lars Ulrich, and singer/guitarist, James Hetfield, the artwork depicts a fractured statue of Lady Justice being hauled to the ground, while dollar bills—once cradled in her scales are toppling over and tumbling down along with her. “The visual acts as a very simple representation of political and legal injustice,” says the album’s Art Director, Roger Gorman. He and his brother, Stephen, were the ones that brought the image to life.

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Roger’s involvement with the project came up naturally, as a consequence of working for bands like Def Leppard and Queensrÿche, who (as Metallica) were managed by Q Prime. In fact, he and his company, Reiner Design Consultants, had already designed the quartet’s previous EP, Garage Days. “Lars was the point man with the band. He was happy with the EP design, and we got along great. So, when the …And Justice For All’s project came along, it was like: ‘Hey guys, do you want to get involved with this? Ok, make it work!’… It was a great opportunity.”

Once the concept and initial sketches were green-lighted, Stephen Gorman worked for two weeks on creating the original acrylic painting. “The main inspirational reference came from the Lady Justice statue situated in Romerplatz in Frankfurt, Germany,” Roger reveals. “My brother had seen it many times when visiting his girlfriend in that city.”

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Exposing the statue’s breasts was a creative decision that made the difference. It not only reinforced the degenerate vibe of the scene but also added certain sexual references without border-lining exploitation. “At that time, record companies were very uptight about nudity, but this was such a classical image that there wasn’t really a concern.”

The bills falling off the scale was another motif that added visual dynamism. “Those were requested by them in the original concept and acted as a device to give the sense that the statue was toppling over… It was a great metaphor for corruption, too,” reveals Roger, adding that the almost-monochromatic palette was taken from the colors of the dollar bill.

The band was psyched about the finished artwork; however, “they wanted additional ropes and the     Metallica logo to be carved deeper into the wall and also slightly greener… [Those were] pretty easy fixes for my brother.” Apart from that, everything else went as planned.

To this day, the allegorical power of …And Justice For All’s artwork keeps resonating in the annals of modern history. “Keeping visuals simple and iconic allowed it to stand the test of time,” Gorman concludes, recalling that “when they were pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, I couldn’t help but think of the Metallica cover!”

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You can purchase the book at Big Cartel and Bandcamp.

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