…And Justice for All was recorded in early 1988 at One on One Recording Studios in Los Angeles. It features long and complex songs, fast tempos, and few verse-chorus structures. It is infamous for its sterile production, which producer Flemming Rasmussen attributed to his absence during the mixing process. The lyrics feature themes of political and legal injustice seen through the prisms of censorship, war, and nuclear brinkmanship. The cover, designed by Stephen Gorman based on a concept by Metallica guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, depicts Lady Justice bound in ropes. The album title is derived from the American Pledge of Allegiance. Three songs from the album were released as singles: "Harvester of Sorrow", "Eye of the Beholder", and "One"; the title track was released as a promotional single.
…And Justice for All is Metallica's first full-length studio album to feature bassist Jason Newsted after the death of Cliff Burton in 1986. Newsted had previously played on Metallica's The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited, an extended play released in 1987. The band had intended to record the album earlier, but was sidetracked by the large number of festival dates scheduled for the summer of 1987, including the European leg of the Monsters of Rock festival. Another reason was frontman James Hetfield's arm injury in a skateboarding accident. The band's previous studio album, Master of Puppets, marked the end of Metallica's contract with the Music for Nations label. Manager Peter Mensch wanted the band to sign with British record distributor Phonogram Records, and Phonogram chairman Martin Hooker was keen to obtain the band's contract. To persuade Metallica to choose his label Hooker offered them a bigger deal, "worth well over £1 million, which at that time was the biggest deal we'd ever offered anyone". His explanation was that the final figure for combined British and European sales of all three Metallica albums was more than 1.5 million copies. The album title was revealed in April 1988: …And Justice for All, after the final words of the Pledge of Allegiance. The artwork was created by Stephen Gorman, based on a concept developed by Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. It depicts a cracked statue of a blindfolded Lady Justice, bound by ropes with her breasts exposed and her scales overflowing with dollar bills. The title appears graffiti-style in the lower right corner.