I have been a Metallica fan for years, and when they first released Load, I like a lot of people was disappointed, and I saw this album as more of the same kind of … (Re-Load after all). I had written Metallica off as a band that used to be good. Recently, I changed my mind. I read a commentary of Kirk’s guitar work, which some people like to complain about(too much Wah, blah, blah). The reviewer was defending him and the band. The point was, would you respect Metallica if they were still playing the Master of Puppets style of music in their jean jackets and unlaced high tops. The answer is absolutely not. They would be a group of four cheese balls that we wouldn’t even be discussing(I can think of several bands like this). With this new attitude, I took a fresh look at the band. I bought both Load and ReLoad and gave them a listen. I have to say that I like them both. I should have known that some of the best tracks didn’t get any air play. Several bands have ripped off the old Metallica style that everyone raves about, but these guys have moved on. They took their heavy sound, refined it, and added in some contemporary influences (I hear a little Alice in Chains and other early 90’s grunge on a few of the tracks). I am also a guitar player and I have since added both Load and ReLoad to my guitar music collection. I have heard a lot of complaints about how the music is so weak now, and Kirk’s guitar playing is just … . Here is my take on that. From Kill ‘em All through And Justice For All, Metallica progressive made their music faster and more complicated. The rhythms got faster and more complex, song structure got more complex, and they were using full barre chords instead of just power chords by And Justice For All. Some of these songs are very challenging to play, but you can only take complexity so far. Starting with the Black album, things are scaled down. Song length is kept under control, and the songs are more focused (like their early work). As for Kirk’s guitar work, I think he is better than ever. Being able to use the Wah to acutally get more expressive and vocal solos is a big challenge which he does admirably. Sure he isn’t playing pentatonic scales 100 miles an hour all the time, but he finally got that blues/metal blend he has been working at for so long. Bottom line: Knowing the obsessive perfectionists that they are, I should have known better than to write them off. Anyone who ever says that Metallic has sold out or not given a good effort is just plain wrong. Ask yourself, why would they sell out now, what would they gain. The answer is nothing(You think they need the money?!). The only thing these guys are interested in is making music they enjoy playing. If you don’t like their new music, fine, but don’t confuse that with selling out. They have never lost sight of who they really make music for, and that is themselves, as it should be. Stepping off the soap box…Some of the high points of this album are Fuel, The Memory Remains, Devil’s Dance, Carpe Diem Baby, Where The Wild Things Are, Low Man’s Lyric, Attitude, and my favorite is Fixxxer. Another great effort from a great band.