First Metallica song to hit the Top 40, and to have a music video. I'm not using the music video because it includes a lot of audio from the movie Johnny Got His Gun (which the song is based on).
I have listened to this song so many times I can't count. Trying to hear it new again today. That war movie opening isn't as long as I remember. The dual guitar intro remains as powerful as when I was a teen. Kirk is a great guitarist of many styles. When Lars' drums come in the first thing I noticed was how much he used his bass drum, and how little it rings. The seamless switch back and forth between the almost Spanish style clean guitar verses and heavy riff portions of the song are really impressive. Producer Flemming Rasmussen had worked with Metallica on two previous albums, helping to create their classic 80s sound.
There is almost no bass guitar to speak of on this track. On the entire album either. This is a widely known issue among fans of the band. ...And Justice for All was the first full studio album featuring new bass player Jason Newsted after the death of Cliff Burton. Some claim that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich intentionally left Jason's bass low in the mix, others claimed his sound was no good and hard to hear no matter what. Regardless, you can't really make out specific bass lines throughout the album.
As the song progresses it not only gets louder, and faster, but more complex as well. The song switches back and forth between 3/4 time and 4/4 time. Just before 4:00 it even switches to 6/4 for about half a minute. The guitar solo over the fast paced final section of the song is blisteringly fast. Kirk's finger tapping style in that solo is often imitated. There are a few duets between the two guitarists, Kirk and James, that are really great. I'm actually more impressed by the rare, at least in Metal, vocal duets that show up early in the song with Jason singing harmony to James' lead vocals.
Also... 100 days 100 posts!