James Hetfield Reveals Why Metallica Will Never Add Bass to …And Justice for All
I’ve said it again and again and again, but I think it bears repeating: it sucks when a band re-records their own material. Yeah yeah, I’m sure there are exceptions, as there are to any rule, but for the most part, these endeavors tend to be pointless. Even when a band’s feels like an old album or song doesn’t sound great, to re-do it is ostensibly to try and re-write history; your old, imperfect recording is part of your identity, and something your fans (presumably) fell in love with, so why not just leave it the hell alone?
And at least one prominent metal musician agrees with me. Discussing this very topic with The Red Bulletin recently, Metallica’s James Hetfield said…
“There are things I would like to change on some of the records, but it gives them so much character that you can’t change them. I find it a little frustrating when bands re-record classic albums with pretty much the same songs and have it replace the original. It erases that piece of history. These records are a product of a certain time in life; they’re snapshots of history and they’re part of our story. OK, so ‘… And Justice for All’  could use a little more low end and ‘St. Anger’  could use a little less tin snare drum, but those things are what make those records part of our history.”
Metal Insider wisely suggests that the interviewer should have followed-up by asking about fixing these issues via remixing and remastering (hey, it did wonders for Lamb of God’s As the Palaces Burn), but, uh, they didn’t, so we dunno where Hetfield stands on that issue. But honestly at this point it’s like, “Whatever,” right? We’ve all been listening to Justice for nearly thirty years without the bass so clearly we can’t hate it that much, and none of us have been listening to St. Anger since it came out, and fixing the snare would only address some of that album’s problems (e.g., songs that are too long, incredibly shitty lyrics, etc.). So I think we can all be content to leave good enough alone, yeah?