Undoubtedly, "... And Justice for All" is one of Metallica's classic albums, and remains a fan-favourite. It is true though that since the day it was released in 1988, it has been criticized for the lack of any bass guitar on the final sound. Jason Newsted's bass is buried in the mix and the drum sound is on the forefront. Many fans blame Lars Ulrich for that, and if you google it, you may find many videos of the album's songs on YouTube, where Newsted's performance is more audible. James Hetfield was interviewed in the So What! Metallica fan magazine and was asked about these matters:
Did Newsted approach James and Lars to say that the bass was lower in the mix than he had expected? - "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 [between touring and mixing the album]. 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".
Was Lars the culprit for the final mix (as Steve Thompson, one of the album mixers, said)? - ""We wanted it tight. We wanted it fucking tight. That's what we wanted. We wanted the snare, we wanted the guitar, we wanted everything up front and in your face and really tight. And we thought we got it. And, you know, we kinda know what we want to sound like. Can we sit behind a desk and make it happen? No. We ask people to do it, and they do it. So (Thompson) did his job. He's got nothing to apologize for or point fingers at. No one's to blame for 'something.' It is a piece of art. It happened and it ended up the way it is for a reason. And for reasons we were just talking about. We were burnt. We're traveling, we're playing a gig, our ears were fried. We were not sleeping. He doesn't need to defend himself. He was a part of an awesome album in history, so I think he should be maybe be a little easier on himself".
And what about the calls for a new, remixed, more bassy "... And Justice For All"? - "All this (bass discussion) 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?".