What I have noticed in every Metallica album since Load all the way up to St. Anger is that ALL of them are pretty decent albums. But, all of them take a lot of listening to appreciate. I have all the albums and my favorite one by FAR is Master of Puppets, NO questions asked. So when I first listened to Load I hated it. The only good songs at first were Ain’t my Bitch, Until it Sleeps, King Nothing and Cure. I HATED Hero of the Day at first but, slowly but surely the song grew on me. Some of the other songs like 2 x 4, Poor Twisted Me, and Thorn Within didn’t really appeal to me at first. So when I first bought the album and listened to it, I discarded it for the longest time. Finally I was bored so I decided to listen to the album again just to see what I would think, and I still didnt like it. Finally after listening to it a third time, SOME of the songs mentioned above I started to nod my head to. Then listening to it a fourth time I actually started to really enjoy the album. Now I LOVE it! My point that all the newer Metallica albums like Load, Reload, Garage Inc. (1st album anyways) and St. Anger (S and M doesnt count), they all take a good 4 or 5 listens before you like it. They are easy to discard after the first listen, but you really need to give them a chance, and give it a good 4 or 5 listens and by then, if you still dont like it, sell it.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
The direction Metallica went on Load shows EXACTLY what they stood for since the beginning. Going with their instinct, doing what THEY felt they felt necessary to express themselves, regardless of what backlash some people may give. This album brought Metallica on a level above the entire genre of metal. They showed that unlike most metal bands, they can write beautiful, melodic music, and try new things. In fact, this album may be more metal than most, due to its heavy blues influence. After all, blues was one of the biggest influences on the formation of heavy metal. Now onto the album itself.
Load has a great variety of styles. You have powerful, up-tempo rockers like ‘Wasting My Hate’ ‘Ain’t My Bitch’ and ‘Cure’. A soft rocker with an intense bridge/outro in ‘Hero Of The Day’, and one of the biggest surprises of the album, the country-esque tune ‘Mama Said’. Which is an absolutely beautiful tribute from James to his deceased mother, and anybody with a heart should be able to appreciate. Yet the highlights of Load in my opinion, are the epic rock classics ‘Bleeding Me’ and ‘Outlaw Torn’. The lyrics, the solos, the riffs, the beats, everything about these songs is perfect and brilliant. Metal or not, these songs will go down in history as pieces of amazing artwork.
In summation, although the average metalhead will tell you they only like ‘old Metallica’, the MUSIC fan will be able to appreciate Load for what it is. Just because it isn’t metal, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Metallica took a daring risk that most metal bands would be scared to death of taking in their careers. And it pays off, as the music on this album comes from the heart, and shines with brilliance that only Metallica has been able to deliver.
Let us start from the beginning. The question is not whether or not Metallica “sold out” because they changed their music style. The issue in a review like this is if the album was good or if it , instead, sucked royally. To give an album one star means it sucked royally. While “Load” may not have met the expectations of some, it was at least a decent album. No, it was not thrash or speed metal. Like its previous effort, “Metallica” (commonly known as the “Black” album) “Load” had a more rock oriented sound to it. (No, it was not an alternative album, if anything “Load” at least represents a good hard rock album.)Load did not suck royally. So, in my opinion, it deserves three stars. It did not meet the same level as an album like “Black,” which would be a four or five.As for earlier albums, this album is different. Understandably people buying this album expecting to see Metallica’s thrash-metal roots (see “Master or Puppets” or “Ride the Lightning”) clearly are disappointed. The reason for such disappointed is well founded…. “Load” is not a thrash metal album. It is, instead, a clear progression from earlier albums. Go ahead, listen to them in order and see if you can’t expect an album like “Black” or later “Load.”Face it. James Hetfield and company aren’t angry 18 year olds. If they were, they would be pumping out more albums like “Kill `Em All.” And, no doubt, we’d be sick of them and complaining that all they can do is create copies of the same thing. Let Metallica evolve. Give them a bit of slack, and see where things take them. If you don’t like where things are when, god forbid, Metallica is no more, then you can complain about where they ended up. But right now, they are still a work-in-progress (like any band still playing), so let’s just see where evolution takes them.
This is the album Metallica would have made in 1993 if Cliff was still alive. Sacrilege comes the cry from the bemulleted crowd at the back, but did all you so-called Metallica fans know that Cliff was as much into blues and Mozart as Black Sabbath and Slayer? The prog rock in Metallica is now gone, in the respect that 3 minute, 30 scale solos are now gone. The blues and Black Sabbath are surfacing. How many of you complained about War Pigs having a harmonica? How many of you complained when the boys in Sepultura and Pantera cut their hair? You all just wanted an excuse to hate Metallica. And yet they still swept the rug away from under your feet by releasing this, their most profound and diverse work yet. Hetfield has never sounded better, and the lyrics to Outlaw Torn and Bleeding Me are the finest he has ever written. Yes, they aren’t as heavy, nor angry as they were. Maybe when you get older you too will recognise the balls it took to release this. They knew they were going to lose a lot of fans with this. What is all this talk of selling out? They knew that if they released an album like before, it would sell well. They took a huge risk in releasing this, as it could have ended up that they would be too light for the elitists, and too heavy for the mainstream. Why all the criticism of Mama Said? No-one so much as blinked when Pantera did Suicide Note part 1, or when Sepultura did Jasco or Kaiowas. Metallica are starting to explore the areas that they couldn’t go before, and in so doing they have made some great music which deserves to be listened to and judged, rather than hated just because everyone else does. Fair enough, why they wanted to put a song like `Poor Twisted Me’ on the album totally escapes me, but when you have songs like `Thorn Within’ and `Until It Sleeps’ to compensate, it matters little. It may not be as heavy as the bone-heads wanted, but if a song does not have distortion on it, does that make it a bad song? No. This is an album for every mood, and it is a rock album. They never said it was going to be as heavy as Master of Puppets, and if you bought it expecting that, then die. I personally would have preferred `Justice For All’ part II, but this does the job just fine. And it’s better than the indulgent toss on Reload. And don’t give me that guff about ’sell-out’. They were taking a risk with this, because they knew the mainstream were already scared of big, ugly Metallica, and that the old ‘Metallibangers’ (sorry to use that word, but you get the idea who I’m Talking about) would destroy them for going ‘light’. If they had have done Master of Puppets part 2 then that would have been selling out, as it would have sold by the bucket-load, and htey knew it.Did you know that out there in the world somewhere, there is someone who hates Metallica solely because James stopped drinking? And for that, they have succeeded in ensuring themselves a place in history…as a total f**king moron…
LOAD, it appears, is the true litmus test of Metallica’s career. This is the album where it was tremendously popular with a lot of the grunge listeners, dominated the charts in 1996, and had heavy radio rotation. LOAD brought in a lot of new fans for Metallica (this reviewer included), but is still highly controversial as it abandoned much of Metallica’s earlier trademark sound from the 1980s, and a lot of people stopped caring about the boys after this one. But this album is not without precedent in the Metallica canon.
The BLACK ALBUM, LOAD’s predecessor from 1991, is often seen as the true turning point in Metallica’s career. Taking their progressive metal and incredibly complex songwriting (to the point it was difficult to replicate the music on stage) to its breaking point or zenith on the masterpiece … AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, Metallica pared back their sound, and ultimately became more commercial sounding. MTV picked up on the BLACK ALBUM’s songs, and featured them in heavy rotation. While the BLACK ALBUM disappointed some of the band’s fan base, without a doubt the album helped move the band into the mainstream of rock, and ultimately greatly added to Metallica’s fanbase.
While some of Metallica’s long time fans were somewhat uneasy with this subtle change in the band’s musical direction, by the time 1996 came around the unease metamorphosed into full-blown hostility. And it’s all due to this album.
LOAD completely changed Metallica’s sound, and, for a lot of long time fans, for the worst. Gone are the pyrotechnic solos, complex songwriting, and thrash metal mentality that carried their first four albums into the annals of rock and roll legend. The band cut their hair, started writing songs more like alternative rock, and reached out to a new fan base. LOAD’s songs got heavy radio rotation (something that did not happen with their earlier albums), and they had several singles that charted quite high. Still, a lot of Metallica’s fans were not only disappointed but just flat-out angry with the band and quit following them after this record.
And why? That’s a good question. I grew up with grunge, and love the early 1990s sound. When LOAD came out in 1996, I knew I had to get that. It was the first Metallica album I ever bought (though my brother had the BLACK ALBUM which I listened too frequently). Those two were the first Metallica records I ever listened too
Listening to it, and without knowledge of their earlier albums, I never could understand why people hated it as much as they did. The songs are great, and while the album is a little on the long side (79 minutes). [ In fact, for the longest time whenever anyone asked me to name a Metallica song the first one I would name "Until It Sleeps"]. In fact, “Until It Sleeps” was for a long time the one song I always thought of when I thought of Metallica. For me, it was their definitive song (though this has changed since then). Without the context of their career, and responding to the music itself, I loved the music and thought it had a lot of their best material. I still think so.
Having since gone thru the rest of their albums, I now understand why people have such a hard time with this record. While it’s a great mid 1990s record, sounding very much of the grunge era, I understand now how much of a departure from their previous work it really is. Their tempos have always been fast and furious, thrash all the way. And now they release LOAD, and it’s all this bluesy alternative metal sounding crap, and they cut their hair, and oh my God aren’t they the sellouts?
Well, Jason Newsted said it best when he did admit Metallica did sell out. They sell out every seat for every concert on their tours. They rock the house. And that’s what counts.
While LOAD may not appeal to a lot of Metallica’s fanbase, for this listener it’s got some of my favorite songs from the 1990s. The album plays like a greatest hits list of 1996, the songs were that big and that popular. And fortunately, this is the “popular=bad” equation most people think of. It has the epics (“Bleeding Me,” “Outlaw Torn”), the radio staples (“Until It Sleeps,” “King Nothing,” “Hero of the Day”), an almost country sounding (!!) song (“Mama Said), and just some flat out great rock songs (though not necessarily great metal).
Being part of the new fan base the album helped bring it, I shook my head at the Metallica purists who hated it. Now, going thru the other records, now I understand the purists’ frustration at Metallica for such a radical departure that this record represents. It really is Metallica doing alternative. And for those who love thrash and speed metal, to have one of the best metal bands ever turning away from that avenue can be discouraging.
Metallica has such a successfully realised metal sound, and their four 1980s albums are all fantastic. Those records are masterpieces. LOAD, and its sequel, are not the masterpieces the early albums are. But that doesn’t mean they bad. Far from it. To be fair, it’s hard to do a follow up to an album like MASTER OF PUPPETS, one of the definitive metal records of the 1980s. Though LOAD and RELOAD are not as good as the four, there’s not very many records that are that good, they set such high standards.
In the ensuing years since its release, my esteem for the album has very slightly lessened, but this has more to do with their success on their earlier records than anything critical about this one. While their earlier work are unequivocal masterpieces, the LOAD era is a different animal altogether, and Metallica were trying to find a new sonic identity. They still feeling their way into the new artistic direciton.
While the purists may be right their earlier work is better, it does not change the fact LOAD is one of the best hard-rock albums of the 1990s, and is still probably my sentimental favorite, if not my critically favorite anymore, of all of Metallica’s albums.
Ain’t My Bitch: #15
Hero of the Day: #1
Until It Sleeps: #1
Mama Said: #24
Bleeding Me: #6
King Nothing: #6