Why the hell doesn’t Metallica‘s 1988 album …And Justice For All have any audible bass? Then-bassist Jason Newsted recorded his parts for the record, yet they’re completely inaudible in the final mix. James Hetfield has blamed burnout in the past, while one of the album’s mixers Steve Thompson thought it might be a joke. Regardless, Newsted was understandably pissed off.

Now …And Justice For All producer Flemming Rasmussen has a new theory about the absent bass. In an interview with Daniel Sarkissian, Rasmussen said he believes Metallica originally did it to get a reaction out of Newsted. And when Newsted didn’t react during the mixing process, the bass stayed muted.

“I think — but this is purely speculation — I think that they did it to get some kind of reaction from Jason. Because what they hated the most about Jason was that he was a fan,” said Rasmussen.

“He was never disagreeing or anything, or stating his own opinion. I think they were waiting for him to kind of state his place in the band… I think they probably did it to get a reaction, and when it didn’t come, that was the way the album turned out.”

And while this might seem mean, Metallica was also dealing with Cliff Burton having died less than two years prior in a horrific bus accident. So it’s impossible to say where their collective heads were at while dealing with that kind of grief. Despite that situation, Newsted stayed in Metallica until 2001. Now if we could just get a remixed version of …And Justice For All with all that beefy Newsted goodness, that’d be great.

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