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Metallica - Reload CD (album) cover




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2.20 | 411 ratings

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3 stars Believe it or not, I actually like this album more than its predecessor. The actual songwriting isn't that much better (after all, these were recorded in the same sessions), but what sets this album apart is how weird it is. Ostensibly, these are (for the most part) the odder, more "experimental" songs that the group had done in those sessions, and which hadn't been fully mixed by the time Load was ready for release. One thing that comes out of this is that I really don't get how this could possibly be considered a mainstream or "alternative" album - this is not conventional rock music, by any means. If I may make an analogy (analogies are fun!), this can be considered the Metallica version of the Rolling Stones' Goats Head Soup (and come to think of it, "Devil's Dance" kinda reminds me of "Dancing With Mr. D"); a weirdly decadent mix of various styles done by a previously "conventional" rock band. Of course, this album is way worse than GHS, with a ton of filler threatening to drown out the best moments, but it still deserves some credit in the grand scheme of things.

The album starts off normally enough, of course. "Fuel" is a fabulous, powerful riff-rocker, replete with solid vocal harmonies, and its overexposure around the time of release way back when never quelched my love for it. The second song, though, is a weird cross between ultra- mainstream "alternative" rock and the experimentation of the rest of the album. Not that that's a good thing in this case; "The Memory Remains" is close to my least favorite Metallica song of all time, as it's an almost ridiculously repetitive weak, weak attempt at hard rock, complete with a cameo from Marianne Faithful that starts off seeming clever and ends up feeling incredibly stupid and gimmicky. It's followed by a positive number, though, in the aforementioned "Devil's Dance," a mid-tempo stomper with well-produced grumbling, battling guitars and overdone-but-still- enjoyable "menacing" vocals. It's a clear keeper, that's for sure.

"The Unforgiven II," then, is hilariously, offensively bad. It's one thing to ape a previously well- received song for a new number in order to use the good will for that song as a crutch; it's another to prop up its rotting corpse a la Weekend at Bernie's and then rape and desecrate its rotting corpse when you're done with it. There are certain things in rock music that are fundamental offenses against nature, and one of them is not only naming a song "*Already famous song* II" (unless it's "Larks' Tongues in Aspic," of course) but using that full title in the actual lyrics. And that's all I'm going to say about it, else I get angry and blustery while typing.

Aside from a great, great up-tempo 70's-style rocker (with Sabbath-quality riffs) in "Prince Charming," as well as a surprisingly decent seven-minute acoustic ballad in "Low Man's Lyric," the rest of the songs hit neither the highs nor lows of the songs already mentioned. "Slither" stands out slightly both because its main riff is pretty similar to that of "Enter Sandman" and because of its creepy vocal harmonies, "Carpe Diem Baby" has a teeth-gritting, slightly unpleasant (in a good way) set of riffs and some oddly ok vocals, and, uh ... "Where the Wild Things" Are has some pretty ugly (again, in a good way) guitar interplay. None of these are great, but none of them are even remotely bad either. As for the rest of the songs, well, I never feel like I'm listening to a "typical" album when listening to them; I don't really like the other songs, but I like how moderately unusual they are as a whole.

In the end, this is another giant heap of filler smattered with a few good songs, and while this has more low points than Load does, the filler tends to be more interesting on the whole than Load's filler. Again, an hour-long album consisting of the best material from these two behemoths would probably merit a **** rating; as is, the amount of sludge to be slithered through between these two albums makes such an assessment impossible.

PS: If you're interested, my ideal 1-hour Load Sessions album would look like this:

"Ain't My Bitch" "Until it Sleeps" "Devil's Dance" "2x4" "Low Man's Lyric" "Fuel" "King Nothing" "Prince Charming" "Mama Said" "The Outlaw Torn"

Lead single: "Hero for the Day"

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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