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4 stars Metallica is the most controversial metal band ever. Universally adored during their early times, their reputation among the metal community was considerably shaken by, firstly, the creation of a music video for the classic “One” and, secondly, the release of the self titled record (“Metallica”, “Black Album”, whatever). By this time, there were two sections of the metal community thinking different things about the band; the thrashers were quite furious at them, accusing them to lead the thrash metal genre to ruin with the groovy self-titled; and the rest of the metalheads that enjoyed the “Black Album”, saying that they had to move on and try new things, in order to not stagnate. In fact, the self titled was generally well accepted by the metal community, thanks to its “crushing riffs and solos”.

Then, metal went downhill and Metallica took a pause of some years, in order to rest and prepare the new album, the (in)famous “Load”. By this time, grunge was taking over the music industry, thanks to the mainstream success of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice in Chains. Everyone was expecting the new Metallica album to resurrect metal, and bring it again to the top.

I guess that the metal community felt betrayed when the music video of “Until it Sleeps” was leaked, along with pictures of the band without long hair (and with eye-liner and such). “They are sell-outs!”, even the ones that supported Metallica when the s/t was released were thinking like this. Lars Ulrich even said, one day, that Metallica was no longer a metal band; “we are a pop band now”said the drummer to the journalists.

And so, after “Load”, all the metalheads began to reject and dismiss Metallica. They lost the status of metal gods and the band's legacy (an enormous legacy, I must say) was neglected too. The metalheads divided themselves again; some began saying that early Metallica rocked and such (basically, that the first five albums rocked; however, nowadays, this faction divided itself yet again: now, there are some who say that just RtL and KeA are good albums, mainly because of Mustaine's intervention on them, and others that say that the first four records ruled and so on), and others began saying that “Metallica were never good” (what a lie) and that their impact on metal music is “insignificant” (LIE).

Metal fans are strange. If a metal band changes its sound, they immediately accuse them of selling out and such. If a metal band stays the same over the years, they immediately criticize it too. A bit unfair, isn't it? Metallica changed their sound and experimented with new things here, on “Load”, and, of course, the metalheads labeled them as sell-outs. Unfair, indeed. So, is “Load” atrocious, like many say? Is “Load” terrible? No, my friends, of course not. Metallica is a fantastic band, songwriting-wise; they can play anything they want to, and still keep the music catchy and solid. I bet you now are thinking that I'm a Metallica fanboy, but this is just the truth, friends.

“Load” is a bizarre record, mainly because of all the different elements it carries and blends. The heavy metal/hard rock that made the “Black Album” what it is, is mixed here with some country and blues elements, which, of course, turns this record into a delightful and varied musical piece. The guitars are no longer crunchy and heavy; they are tuned differently, so their sound is less aggressive but still tasteful.

Hetfield's riffs shine here, but not because they can crush bones; they shine because they are beautiful and groovy. Kirk is, again, using the wah-wah pedal too much, but that doesn't matter much to me; his solos are emotional and somewhat original. Newsted is finally audible, giving an extra groove to some songs, and Lars Ulrich delivers here a simple but effective work, overusing sometimes the “kick-snare- kick-snare” pattern, but, all in all, his performance is very, very good, dynamic and solid. He is very criticized, nowadays, by the metal community, mainly because of his so-called ability to “ruin songs with his horrible drumming” and of the problems with Napster. Anyways, he is pretty good here, in my opinion, especially on “The Outlaw Torn”, but I'll talk about that song later.

So, as I've already said, this record is very varied and that is shown by the songs. There are lots of highlights here, in fact. The majority of the tracks are mid-paced and, sometimes, very calm, which makes “Load” a record that you'll not want to listen everyday. “Ain't my Bitch” and “Wasting my Hate” are the heavier of the bunch, the first being a truly great song, very powerful, and the second being a pseudo-punk take, featuring some laughable lyrics that fit well with the music. Those tracks also show the incredible vocal approach of James Hetfield; he improved A LOT since the s/t, showing here a very nice vocal range and, most of all, his ability to sing emotionally, which is a thing that I value.

His emotional approach is highlighted by the incredible amount of ballads and “half-ballads” present on “Load”: they are “Until it Sleeps”, “Hero of the Day”, “Mama Said”, “Bleeding Me” and “The Outlaw Torn”. I think that all of them absolutely kick ass, except for “Until it Sleeps”, a song that I consider a bit weak compared to the others, but, hey, it's good, nevertheless. “Hero of the Day” features some nice double-bass parts, here and there, and fantastic guitar melodies. It's a very underrated song, in my opinion. The same thing for “Mama Said”, despite being a bit weaker. It's an authentic country take, with an anthemic and catchy chorus. Again, not a thing that I want to listen everyday.

And now the best part... the two epics, “The Outlaw Torn” and “Bleeding Me”. Well, the latter is an amazing, almost atmospheric song; it has two different sections, the first one is very calm, James Hetfield shines with his amazing vocal performance (“I'm digging my way...” - so beautiful), and the second decently heavy, containing a nice hard rock riff that leads us to the outro, which is very soft again. Honourable mention here to Lars Ulrich too, that, during this song, uses the almighty RIDE CYMBAL!! After just using the hi-hat during the self titled and “...And Justice For All”, he finally understood that using the ride cymbal is a good thing! Yay!

Well, about “The Outlaw Torn”... I don't have words to describe it. This song is so beautiful, oh my God, this track is one of the best epics Metallica ever made, yeah, it's right there, struggling with “... And Justice For All” and “Master of Puppets” for the prize. I will just say that its chorus is amazing, its bassline gorgeous and its outro stunning. AH, and it also contains an amazing solo. And a great main riff. And complex drumming. And...

Forget it. Concluding, despite all the good songs there are some fillers here (“The Torn Within”, “Poor Twisted Me”), but, fortunately, they don't ruin the whole listening experience. James Hetfield is the man of the record, thanks to his fantastic vocals, as he absolutely reached his peak here. Kirk delivers some good leads and solos and Lars one of his best performances.

One last word to the fantastic production, one of the reasons why this album is so good. Everything is audible and well mixed, and the record has a nice distinctive sound, thanks to it. The drumkit is the intrument that shines the most because of the production; the snare is not as powerful as on the self- titled but still sounds great and the hi-hat is pretty loud too. About the guitars, they carry a very rock- ish sound, which benefits the whole atmosphere of “Load”. As you can see, “Load” is also very long (clocking in at almost 80 minutes), so it requires multiple listens for you to understand its real greatness. That's another characteristic of this record.

So, open your ears and mind, forget about all the critics surrounding Metallica and enjoy this epic, beautiful, groovy, whatever, record. “Load” deserves to be heard carefully and as a whole, so that its atmosphere gets you. Absolutely recommended, but forget this piece if you are one of those that label Metallica as sell-outs. I wish this record, in the future, will get the praise it deserves. Again, open your mind, this isn't as bad as many say.

Best Moments of the CD: -the beginning of “2X4”. -the solo section of “The House Jack Built”. -the double bass parts of “Hero of the Day”. -“I'm digging my way...” -the first riff of Ronnie (which sounds a bit like Seek & Destroy). -Everything about “The Outlaw Torn”.

Report this review (#187524)
Posted Friday, October 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Metallica - 'Load' 2 stars


Here Metallica finally takes a real turn in their sound. Any of their fast paced, real thrash moments were gone, as well as the angst. Instead, we have much slower paced, hard rock songs mixed with a radio friendly sound that made this one of the most controversial bands to exist. The sound produced by the above segments created a terrible and overall boring sound. The solo's were also just slow blues, which Hammett really isn't very good at, because blues usually evokes emotion, which Hammett also doesn't do, just feels like he is just hitting any note in the scales and is satisfied with himself.

This album just dragged on and on. While this didn't have horrific intentions, I'll give it two stars at most. If you think this is the worst you are in for a real treat. This started the end of Metallica.

Report this review (#190536)
Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars You know what? I give this a 4, but I'm tempted to give it a 5 just because it really doesn't deserve a 2 rating that it's gotten. I don't know why everyone hates Metallica's Load and ReLoad albums, and St. Anger.

I understand that Load and ReLoad are a radical departure from their extreme Thrash Metal roots, and that many fans of their older stuff wouldn't like them, but take a moment and listen to this: The whole idea behind progressive rock is DIVERSITY. So obviously they were deciding to try something new. This should be awarded by progressive rock fans, rather than met with hostility. Yes, you wouldn't like this album at all if you only like Metallica's old stuff, but if you're looking on, chances are your musical tastes are much more diverse. From old 70s bands like Floyd and Genesis, to heavy metal like Metallica and Dream Theater. My point is, I hope no one is downrating this album because of its departure from their original beloved thrash formula, for that is the very meaning of progressive rock-trying new things, taking new directions and well... progressing! Comparing Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn and The Wall, they're so radically different it's hard to think they're the same band. All bands go through this.

Furthermore, this album has many melodic moments and it still remains heavy... not the kind've Ride the Lightning heavy, but still quite heavy. The heavy on this album is more like hard rock, and there is a noticeable country music sounding influence on the album, especially Ronnie which you'll probably be confused that Metallica wrote that song, because it sounds so different. Not to say it's dominated by country music, but there is that general feeling in there.

Most of the tracks on this album are more hard rock sounding, but the things of particular interest to progressive fans are The House that Jack Built, Hero of the Day, Bleeding Me, and The Outlaw Torn. These songs are longer than the others (with the exception of Hero of the Day) and they all have changing tempos and memorable melodies. Bleeding Me is my favourite from this album. The Outlaw Torn is an amazing song which ends in a jam improvisation that got a few minutes cut off, for the album was too long and could not fit the entire thing in it.

Contrary to all other people who think this album is terrible, I say it's an excellent album. Progressive rock fans should not mind the change in style Metallica went through in this album.

Report this review (#199763)
Posted Monday, January 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars Where's your crown, king nothing?

Probably in the trash can. Right where I would place my copy of this album if I still had it. Some might argue the redeeming qualities of this, but it is so far removed from anything even remotely progressive or influential in such a way. Much more commercially crafted than even Their self titled album, this is hard rock. Not that hard rock is inferior to heavy metal, but this is some shallow and simplistic hard rock. The lyrics are downright painful at times, and nothing here is progressive, adventurous, edgy, unique, or strong. The compositions are bland, and the instrumentation seems to have taken a back seat to Hetfield's vocals, which were never too amazing.

The lyrics here are awful, even for a generic heavy metal band, and it is all so plain. King nothing is a decent enough hard rocker, but it all feels so samey. Some of their songs go on for far too long (Bleeding me, The Outlaw Torn), and others shouldn't even come into existence. (Ain't my Bitch, 2x4...mumble mumblethewholealbummumblemumble) I suppose the semantics aficionados would say this is progression from Metallica, but I could just as easily call it a regression.

t wouldn't have been as bad, I suppose, if the songs were at least a bit more adventurous in some form, rather than what was released. It doesn't help that I absolutely dislike this album, so I can't give brownie points just for liking it. As it stands, One star.

Report this review (#211296)
Posted Tuesday, April 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Load" is the 6th full-length studio album by US heavy metal act Metallica. The album was released in June 1996 by Vertigo Records. Five years had gone by since the release of the band´s multi million selling album "Metallica (1991)" and the fans expectations were very high at this point. Metallica again chose Bob Rock to produce the album (never change a winning formula). 27 songs were written during the sessions and the band had initially planned to make a double CD release but they opted to release the songs they had finished recording as a single CD release as they had been offered to play on the Lollapalooza tour in the summer of 1996 and wanted a new album out before that. The 13 remaining songs that didn´t make it unto "Load" were released on the next studio album "Reload (1997)".

The music on "Load" is completely stripped anything that points toward Metallica´s thrash metal past. While those elements were already very sparse on "Metallica", at least they were there. The music on "Load" is more hard rock/ heavy rock blues based in style than ever before and while I´d still call the music metal, there´s generally a softer and more mainstream approach to songwriting on the album. There are a few harder edged riffs here and there that fully qualify as metal though. The album was the longest Metallica album up until then with it´s 78:59 minutes long playing time distributed over 14 tracks. That´s at least a couple of tracks too long if you ask me.

The sound production is professional but lacks the metallic power of the predecessor.

"Load" is just like it´s sister album "Reload" a pretty unremarkable and medicore affair. The album seriously lacks highlights/ standout tracks, the production lacks edge and the music lacks attitude. Compared to the "Black Album", "Load" is quite the disappointment but it´s still a somewhat consistent and decent affair deserving a 2.5 - 3 star rating.

Report this review (#226362)
Posted Monday, July 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars King Nothing...

You know, I actually won a copy of this album at a pre-release party. Yup I won it, but it wasn't much of a victory, it was more of a defeat, because after the black album, which, while not as interesting as Metallica's 80s releases, is still a very good and solid rock/metal album. It's no coincidence that it made Metallica a household name globally. And then comes "Load" - a collection of all grown up and boring sounding songs. On the black album, Metallica abandoned the complexity that otherwise characterized them, and on "Load" they simply abandoned the ballsy rock energy that's also been a characteristic, leaving us with an empty shell of hypocritical eyeliner-artiness and nothing whatsoever musically. There aren't many interesting songs here, "Mamma Said", an acourstic song with a second rate 90s band meets a 3rd rate country-western singer songwriter feel to it, being the absolute low point. The only song on this album that I like is "King Nothing"... ironically.

Report this review (#227235)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars The end

I like when a band takes different direction to explore some other types and genres of music. Not now, of course, because it has to be made with elegance and quality. The situation here is totally different. Metallica takes the commercial development and it looks like they will never get back. The genre in Load is absolutely different - mixture between country, blues and alternative music combined in mediocre way. No sign of thrash!!! The worst in Load is the length of the album - it's too long and because of that some more dull, boring and shapeless. At that moment of their career, they've lost the sense of making heavier music. But there is other aspect in here. They partially kept their sense of making ballads. These ballads save the album. Namely these ballads are the only good songs here, with Mama Said being the best one. The other songs deserving attention are: Until It Sleeps, The House Jack Built and Bleeding Me. Because of them - 1,75 stars!

Report this review (#261608)
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars Well, I wasn't fan of them at the end so, don't expect a better rate.

Yeah, I'm not fan of them, but I do appreciate their capability of making impressive thrash metal during the 80's. Now, when you take the complex arrangements away, what you have left is just an average hard rock band, but for me it's too evident the limitation of their creativity during the middle 90's.

Hetfield vocals fits better with the more limited music, but his voice is plain and the lyrics are really childish, and metal is way more than that. Hammett, Ulrich and Newsted are average musicians at best and only the riffing guitars of Hetfield stand tall in this album, but don't save this lame production.

Not a single song made it. This is maybe their worst album. If you like the 80's Metallica, maybe you won't like this particular album. Now, if you like 90's Metallica, this album can be for you. But is, certainly, not for me. 1 star, this album is really poor.

Report this review (#278320)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Let's get something clear right away: my relative dislike of this and Reload is not for the stereotypical reasons. I can easily forgive the band members for getting their hair cut; if anything, it would be sad if a bunch of guys in their mid-30's didn't finally get rid of their long hair. I can forgive the band's switch in style to something resembling a weird cross between metal, classic rock and early 90's grunge; I'll admit that the genericism irritates me a bit, but it's not a death knell if the melodies and riffs are good. I can forgive James for hamming up and overemoting in almost every song on here; it's something I got used to eventually. I can even forgive Kirk for losing almost all invention and individuality in his soloing style; this and the next album show a ridiculous obsession with his wah-wah pedal, and the rest of the time he apes every stereotypical "rock star" cliche, but even that isn't crippling (and besides, it still comes in the context of good interplay, though much less spectacular than in the past).

But what I cannot and will not forgive is the FILLER. Between this and Reload, I'd say that there is an awesome 45-minute album buried within, and a rock solid 60-minute could be made as well. But there is over two-and-a-half hours of material between these two monsters, and far more of it falls into the "mediocre or worse" bin than not. Just think about it, though; these may be single-CD releases, but 15 years earlier they would have each been double LP's (and heck, you could have fit 5 early Beach Boys albums into the running time of these two CD's). Hey, do you think it's just a coincidence that, between the late 60's and the start of the CD age, 95% of all albums fell into the range of 35 to 45 minutes? There's a reason for that, people; it's hard enough to come up with sufficient quality material to fill that time range, and coming up with more was reserved for instances where, justifiably or not, the artist thought they could make a major artistic statement with a double album. Heck, even Metallica themselves basically stuck in that time range on their first three albums; it was only on ...Justice and TBA where the band had started to have (moderately) significant problems with excess. What the band was exactly thinking in releasing 4 LP's-worth of material in a two-year stretch (the kind of thing reserved in the old days for The Clash in '79-'80 or Frank Zappa in any given six-month period), especially when they had five years of rust built up, is something I'm rather blurry on.

Of the fourteen tracks on here, I'd say half are solid keepers. "Ain't My Bitch" is a worthy successor to the rockers on Metallica, with solid intensity and satisfyingly thick guitar sounds to support a decent vocal melody. "2x4" has a neat slightly discordant set of main riffs that make for a decent moderately bluesy rocker, and rounding out what would be side one of four is the mega-hit "Until it Sleeps," which happens to also be my favorite of the album by a good margin. Yes, the melody is slightly reminiscient of "Nothing Else Matters", but the song would be great if for no other reason than that its main feature is heavy surf guitar, and the fact that it has a lot of tension and a good deal of creepiness only helps things. "King Nothing" may be overlong (it's essentially a three- minute pop song stretched into 5:30), but it's got a winner of a bassline, and the "where's your crown King Nothing" parts are as hooky as a college student scheduled for an 8 am lecture, so it can stick around. The big hit "Hero of the Day" is a little dippy, but it's a pleasant enough heavy happy pop diversion, so I don't skip it. "Mama Said" is a fine downbeat acoustic anthem full of tasty steel guitar bits (I can see why metalheads would absolutely despise it), and the closing "The Outlaw Torn" manages to justify its length (nearly ten minutes) with a great feeling of desperation, not to mention the eerily nice quiet guitar bits that pop up in the middle that contribute to the tension of the slow, rumbling riffage that makes up the rest.

So that's seven tracks, and largely thanks to the length of the last one, it's about forty minutes of good material. And guess what, the rest absolutely sucks. Well, ok, I need to issue a caveat there; there aren't many individual moments that jump out that make me go "wow, this is terrible." No, my dislike of the rest is more of a gradual, nagging sense of boredom, a feeling that something interesting should have happened by now but hadn't. The only truly embarrassing moment is that part in "The House That Jack Built" which features the ugliest case of somebody trying to sing along with a guitar solo that I've ever heard, but there aren't any great moments in the song to counter that, and the rest of the songs are in one ear and out the other. The only song that really has potential to my ears is the bluesy rocker "Ronnie," but it doesn't move much beyond a decent riff.

In the end, Load, as a whole, isn't terrible, but its good moments are balanced almost 1-to-1 by mind-numbing boredom. I really get the feeling that the band hoped with a lot of these tracks that just doing things in a different style was enough to make the album interesting, and that they'd be able to get away with any criticisms with the counter of "you just need to let go of the past" or something like that. But man, I may like a lot of classic rock, but that doesn't mean I need to like Grand Funk Railroad, and I may like a lot of prog, but that doesn't mean I need to like Kansas. The weaker songs may be passable as background music, but I don't think that's what the band would have wanted said when they were making these songs.

Report this review (#278951)
Posted Thursday, April 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Different is not a bad thing!

However, this album is.

Despite what I used to think in my younger days, different is not bad. A band changing its sound is not automatically bad, and experimenting is good. Sadly, "selling out" has nothing to do with why this album is bad. The music takes all the responsibility for that.

As crazy as it sounds I actually like this album a little better than the Black Album. While this album is generic, it is at least a bit faster paced and just more upbeat overall. The hour long ballad of a snore fest that was the Black Album has been replaced with a more hard rock, bluesy sounding album. Actually, that sounds very appealing to me. I would love that! The problem is, this album is overall, boring.

Ronnie, for example, is a pretty sweet sounding song. However, I can barely make it to the end as it just feels so dull by then, (jeez how many times have I written that now).

Wasting my Hate I really like. Cool sounding, decent amount of heavy rockness, really awesome feel. Not to long.

This is counterbalanced by "Mama Said". This is just an insult to the fans. I guess unless you happen to like country as well...

King Nothing may be the best song on the album.

I will not continue on, because most of the songs fall into the same category: Kind of cool, got some nice feel/moments but overall boring. I actually like this better than the Black Album, its groovy, as in it actually has some groove to it, some feel, (unlike the Black Album). It is just flat out generic and dull though. I wish we could do half star ratings...

Two and a half stars!

Report this review (#283777)
Posted Thursday, May 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars My experience with Load was a surprisingly pleasant one! Of course there is no comparison to even the weakest Thrash Metal-era albums but by the time I got this album, around 2001, I had already lost any preconceived notions of hearing anything other than a straightforward Hard Rock album.

A funny fact about my relation to this album is that I associate it with the game Unreal Tournament, which I purchased only a few weeks after Load. I remember vividly how I often played the two side-by-side, with Unreal Tournament's music turned off, and a lot of that nostalgic charm has indeed rub itself off on Load.

It might be unexpected that I happen to enjoy this release more than the Black Album but my explanation to this phenomenon is pretty simple. The Black Album was a market scam that fooled the fans into believing that Metallica was still a Thrash Metal band with singles like Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, Nothing Else Matters and Wherever I May Roam. Once the fans got the actual albums they felt cheated after hearing that the rest of material there was mainly Heavy Metal. Load never gave the fans any other notion than that it was going to be a Hard Rock album with a slight country vibe added to it by James' vocal approach. This can be easily observed from singles like Until It Sleeps, Ain't My Bitch, Hero Of The Day, Mama Said and King Nothing.

Besides, Heavy Metal style of the Black Album did resemble Thrash Metal and made me hope that Metallica would give us at least one song in style of their past glory. Hard Rock is far from anything that Metallica had done to this point, which is why I didn't even hope for anything outside that basic formula.

In conclusion, this album is not as bad as most Metallica fans make it seem! Of course that isn't really saying much considering that the material here doesn't come near anything from Metallica's classic era. Still, I personally enjoy this one more than the Black Album since the band is truer to their new sound and make it sound more convincing. I guess you'll just have to find out for yourself whether you like it or not, just make sure to lock up your prejudge in a safe vault first!

**** star songs: Ain't My Bitch (5:04) 2 X 4 (5:28) The House Jack Built (6:39) Until It Sleeps (4:30) King Nothing (5:27) Hero Of The Day (4:22) Bleeding Me (8:18) Mama Said (5:19) Thorn Within (5:51)

*** star songs: Cure (4:54) Poor Twisted Me (4:00) Wasting My Hate (3:57) Ronnie (5:17) The Outlaw Torn (9:49)

Report this review (#296005)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars I lost my respect for Metallica after the release of the Black Album (their self titled album) which was a very good album. Load, this album, is the follow up of that album.

James is singing "I have lost my way" on one of the songs here. Load is just that. Four guys loosing their way. Metallica had the world at their feet on the black album. I think the band, intoxicated as they were, got the wires crossed and went for AOR and rock'n'roll respectability. The result is this album.

I have been carefully listening to this album a lot of times now and that is time in my life I will never get back. I cannot remember anything than the rather good Mama Said. The rest is a blur of heavy guitars, some vocals, drums and Jason's bass upon a mid tempo attempt to crack the AOR and rock market. Gone is the innovative approach taken on all their previous albums. What's left is............. nothing.

This album fails on so many accounts that it is a painful experience for those who once loved this band. This album is not even a musical development. It is a regression from a band too scared to take any chances and too obsessed to gain respectability in the big US market. A tiger cannot change from stripes to spots. That's the failure of Load. That and some really bad songs. Load is a waste of time and that's all I can say about this album.

2 stars

Report this review (#343562)
Posted Sunday, December 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars After what I regard to be a good album Metallica released this one.

"Ain't my Bitch" - Straight ahead hard rock number. Nothing bad but nothing special.

"2 X 4" - Another straight hard rock track. Again nothing bad but also again nothing special.

"The House that Jack built" - Tempo is slowed on this one. Hard and heavy although not very interesting aside from the "Living on a Prayer" type interjections.

"Until it Sleeps" - Metallica tries the Vince Furnier sound however Alice Cooper they are not and ,to my mind, never could be. Not a bad track though.

"King Nothing" - Wait a minute! This isn't the Metallica of old. The voice is the same and there is no doubt that it is Metallica however they have toned down the thrash in the album thus for. That for me isn't a bad thing as thrash, unless used for effect in a track, is not my thing. I can't handle a barrage of speed that goes on and on throughout an album. However if you're going to release a hard rock album it had better stand out as there is so much to choose from in the Hard Rock format.

"Hero of the Day" - Metallica does Country Rock? Not bad but nothing that stands out. Mid way through there is an inkling of thrash that returns once more after another softer passage.

"Bleeding Me" - More lighter rock to start that does warm up further into the track. Best track on the album thus far.

"Cure" - More hard rock where again I'm reminded of Alice Cooper.

"Poor Twisted Me" - Quirky hard rock number. Interesting track.

"Wasting my Hate" - A touch of thrash in what is basically a straight ahead rock track.

"Mama Said" - Ballady kind of track.

"Thorn Within" - Track that doesn't know what it wants to be. Not interesting.

"Ronnie" - More hard rock but it's kind of pointless to me. By thi stage I'm bored with the album.

"The Outlaw Torn" - Longest track on the album. Uninteresting slow hard rock.

I can understand why Metallica fans were cut up about this one. No sign really of the Metallica that was around before the release of this. A good hard rock album is one thing but an uninteresting hard rock album is another. Progressive in any form or fashion this aint. I simply became bored through the listen and itched to do something else. I don't like thrash as a rule however I would rather that than this insipid offering - it's better to be irritated than bored. Two stars from me although I have to stretch to get there. It isn't terrible however there isn't much here to hold my attention for long.

Report this review (#1011246)
Posted Monday, August 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars After spending a decade slowly but steadily rising through the ranks with very little radio support, Metallica hit the jackpot in '91 with their eponymous CD that was so accessible and expertly- produced it broadened their fan base exponentially and made them a household name worldwide. No longer were they a 'cult' band to be summarily dismissed as part of a fad. They spent three years touring 'Metallica' and then took a long break from the road and each other to write new material and allow lead singer James Hetfield to completely heal from his almost-disastrous run-in with a dangerous pyrotechnic stage prop. Yet I'm not sure that even they themselves realized that almost five years would elapse between album releases and, in the music biz, that can be an eternity. Tastes can change drastically in less than half that time so no one really knew what to expect to hear on 'Load.' Grunge had invaded and set up camp in the interim so it definitely wasn't the same sonic landscape that had so unreservedly nurtured and fertilized the 'Black Album' they were releasing their latest offering into. Their old fans hoped they'd go back to the manic thrashing and speed-pedaling ways that had characterized their early work while their more recent converts were most likely anticipating more stuff developed along the lines of the irrepressible 'Sandman.' I have to count myself in the latter group. When I first took notice of them in the mid-80s I didn't really understand what their brand of metal constituted because in that era I was enamored with groups like Genesis and Steely Dan that were a lot less noisy and didn't involve any head-banging. Plus, I was jealous because, as a guitarist, I'd never been able to play at even near the mind-blowing tempo they performed their music at. But the 'Metallica' disc had won me over with its high-level musicianship and mature songwriting acumen that confirmed to me they weren't just a rough gaggle of white punks on dope so I looked forward to hearing where they'd venture next. What I didn't expect was for them to incorporate so much of a bluesy mien into their product.

They open with 'Ain't my Bitch,' a big slice of hard rock metal that reaches down into your groin area and splits your billiards as we've come to expect this band to do consistently. Kirk Hammett's slide guitar is a new addition of sorts but overall I find the song to be average at best. '2x4' is next to arrive, sporting a strong shuffle beat that brings to mind a drunk Bigfoot bopping about at a rave. James is in good voice and throughout the record I'm impressed with his ability to sing without shouting all the time (a nuance that helped the Black Album to be more palatable to the public). The tune's breakdown to a half beat is okay but the guitar solo is surprisingly lame. Things improve with 'The House that Jack Built.' Deep guitars set up an ominous mood that I always like when it's done right and the change of time signatures on the chorus piques my interest. I'm glad to hear them experiment with and employ various state-of-the-art effects without fear of insulting the stodgy purists. 'Until it Sleeps' follows. After a minimalist beginning they find the fat groove and ride it properly yet once again the composition isn't memorable enough to make a lasting impact. That's not the case on 'King Nothing,' though. An edgy, buzzing guitar note flies in and then the song's powerful riff takes over and rules the realm. This number has the knockout punch that made the previous CD so special so I'm happy to report that this one has the goods. 'Hero of the Day' is a winner, too. I especially enjoy the deviation from their normal approach on this cut. Its upwardly mobile progression along with the tactfully infused distortion keeps me engaged from start to finish. 'Bleeding Me' is a step backwards. Building on a basic riff is what these guys have always excelled at but here they seem to run out of inspiration and the tune grows monotonous and repetitive halfway through.

'Cure' owns a beefy, skull-cracking motif that's difficult to knock but they certainly weren't taking any progressive risks at this juncture, either. I label this MOR metal and, therefore, nothing to get excited about. 'Poor Twisted Me,' is a keeper, however. It's got a bit of a nasty ZZ Top flavoring that I wouldn't have thought they could pull off but the fish-out-of-water factor actually works to their advantage here as it provides a nice twist on their traditional sound and Hammett's guitar ride is suitably aggressive. 'Wasting My Hate' is next. They lay down a generous, solid foundation early on that helps to carry the song over its relatively pedestrian and predictable structure but it's no highlight by a long shot. 'Mama Said' is truly the odd duck in the pond, though. I'm still not sure what to think about this folksy, acoustic guitar-driven number that includes some anemic C&W strains that only serve to further confuse me as to what they were going for. My final assessment is that it blows. 'Thorn Within' possesses an old school, Deep Purple-ish aura that's very alluring and somewhat refreshing after struggling through the previous cut. Alas, it's missing the necessary hook line that would've pushed it over the top and made it unforgettable. 'Ronnie' is a gem. This tribute to Mr. Dio exudes great tension, masterfully generated by a taut guitar lick that establishes an uncomplicated but eventually forceful tidal wave of sound for Hetfield's impassioned vocal to surf on. They end with 'The Outlaw Torn,' a piece that features a fade-in to a Brontosaurus-sized riff (I'm still pleased that I can hear and feel Jason Newstead's bass. Thank you, producer Bob Rock.) that thunders and shakes the floor. No doubt this was written to be an epic concert stunner and it probably benefitted immensely from the spectacular lighting and visuals that accompanied it live but here it just kinda drags on for almost ten minutes without anything remarkable happening.

'Load' was released on June 4, 1996 and debuted at the number one spot on the charts where it remained firmly ensconced for four weeks. Obviously demand for Metallica's rowdy, ear- pummeling assaults hadn't dissipated one iota yet the general opinion was that, in the long run, it was a letdown of sorts. I'll come to their defense and remind everyone that following up an overwhelming success that cements your permanent display in the Hall of Fame forevermore is no easy feat and one that few acts ever succeed at doing. All things taken into account, 'Load' delivered in enough ways to keep the Metallica boat seaworthy and viable. There's enough above average tracks on it to justify repeated listens and, as long as you don't compare it to its predecessor, it holds up fairly well as a worthy specimen of mainstream metal rock. 3 stars.

Report this review (#1171024)
Posted Sunday, May 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Short hair? Make-up? Cigars? What's going on?! What happened to Metallica? Did they... sell out?! OH NOOOOO!!!!!

These are just some of the things the metal community were complaining about back in 1995, when Metallica changed their image and their sound and released 'Load'. Anyone with an open mind will see that there are some really good compositions on this album, but sadly the metal community, as reliable as ever, couldn't get past the fact that Metallica changed their look and "sold out". In fact, most of 'em were still complaining about Metallica releasing a music video in 1988 when they said they never would. Metal elitists... at least they're consistent.

This may not be Metallica's best release, but there are songs on here that definitely stand side-by-side with anything Metallica had done before. 'Ain't My Bitch', 'Until It Sleeps', 'King Nothing' and 'Bleeding Me' are all classics. Even the country-influenced 'Mama Said' is a great tune (unless you're an 80's thrash metal fan who's still trying to get over the 'Black Album'). But for all its strengths, there is one major problem that bugs me about this album; the duration. Alone, any song on 'Load' is a great track (yes, that includes 'Ronnie'), but when you listen to it all in one sitting, it really feels like you've heard the same song multiple times. It's tough.

I can admit, this may not be Metallica's finest hour, but don't be swayed by any "metal" reviews, because it's not a metal album. It's a rock album, and a bloody good one, at that!

Report this review (#1779752)
Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2017 | Review Permalink

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