Review Summary: Load is a solid effort in it's own niche, but this great rock album suffers from being labeled wrongly as a Metallica album and not the parallel rock project that it is.
First of all, let's take a look at two of the most hated metallica albums of all time. One of them is Load, the other one is St. Anger. St. Anger is hated because of bad music. Bad production, bad songwriting and bad lyrics. Load is hated because... It's a rock album by a metal band.
What if Slayer released a funk-rock album? It wouldn't matter if it was a Blood Sugar Sex Magik, fans of the band would hate it like there was no tomorrow. In my opinion, that's why Load is hated so much. People were not ready to get passed the fact that their metal gods could play bluesy rock.
Load is by no means a bad album, it’s not metal, but it’s a damn solid effort. Hell, who could imagine those once bearded long-haired beasts from Metallica could deliver something this musically diverse? The effort that was put on making this album is something to be considered, it was not just different from everything they had done before, it was a musical experience to be learned. Country, blues, heavy metal, hard rock, they mixed it all on a cohesive package that it’s so original that it’s hard to understand how these guys could pull this off. One might say they were in just for the money by entering the trend of the alternative rock scene from the mid 90’s. Probably. But it doesn’t matter, because in the end, all that’s left is a masterpiece in it’s on niche. Forget it’s a Metallica album and all the expectations surrounding them back then and you’ll be able to fully enjoy this.
Ok, enough with introductions, let’s go to the highlights of the album:
Ain’t my Bitch starts the album with heavy riffage and the song kicks ass the whole time. James voice is thicker than ever and is very powerful. This songs illustrates what you should expect from the album. Crunchy riffs, deep drums, thick bass and sliding solos. This is actually one of the most frantic songs from the album, so expect a mood change thereafter.
2x4 is my favorite. It kicks off with a bluesy hard rock riff and some nice wah-wah to build the mood for James’ vocals, and they are groovy as hell. It’s important to note how well crafted the singing is on this album. No one would ever think James was a good singer, but his voice is absolutely perfect for this style of music. After verse, chorus and stuff, we get the best guitar solos from the album. By the 2:20 mark we enter the bluesiest jam metallica ever done and at almost four minutes the solo goes wild. Try hating this album after hearing that. I dare you.
Ok, I have so many highlights to this is album that it will seem I’m making a track-by-track review, but I’m not. The House Jack Built builds (no pun intended) an atmosphere that reminds me the 3rd track from Master of Puppets, The Thing That Should Not Be. The two songs don’t sound like each other, but the same feel is there. It’s dark, it’s experimental and makes you feel like you’re surrounded by the music. Creepy. Highlights to this song are the metaphorical lyrics (like most of the album’s) and the solo with talkbox, that sounds like if James guitar is singing.
A lot of people like Until it Sleeps, it’s a well known song because it was released as a single. It switches between clean surf-music guitar filled verses and a heavy chorus. The lyrics are amazing in this one and the atmosphere created is great. Very engaging.
Bleeding Me. This is a must-listen to everyone who enjoy haunting, chilling, epic music. From start to finish, this song will bring shivers to your spine like no other. Featuring the best singing Hetfield ever did, this track can’t be called anything but flawless. It starts very calm with clean chorus-filled guitar and gentle leads, deep drums and oozing bass. James sings with a very soft voice, until a short distorted guitar solo comes and the man sings his soul out along with it. Some falsettos later, the song builds into it’s pounding chorus, followed by a clean slide-guitar solo. Talk about building up atmosphere... After the second chorus the song stops and the heavy riffage begins. It’s a slow, headbanging inducing one act. Then the most intense chorus comes and Kirk’s guitar comes alive. The most beautiful and unforgettable solo from the album, without a doubt. The solo builds into the song’s climax and the clean verses from the start come back to a final round with a nice organ backing up. Yeah, you got it right, I love this song.
After this we get the 3 most underrated songs from the album. Cure, Poor Twisted Me and Wasting my Hate are the most crunchy road songs from the album. You know, those songs you’d love to hear riding a Harley on a deserted road. Poor Twisted me is a moodier track, while Cure and especially Wasting my Hate are balls-out heavy. At least for a rock album.
Mama Said is an acoustic slide-guitar heavy ballad with a lot of cheese like most Country songs are proud to deliver. Talk about open-minded to understand a song like this on an album like this by a band like this.
Thorn Within is a more experimental track while Ronnie is an all-out Western blues-rock track. The lyrics tell a story, very different from everything on the album, but yet it fits with the whole.
Then something like The Outlaw Torn comes in. And you ask yourself what the hell were these guys smoking to make something like this. It’s the most haunting and atmospheric songs on the album. Just like Bleeding Me it will make you shiver, but this time because it’s just creepy. It’s a song with a very slow pace, it’s more like an experience than a song, that has to be listened with attention for all the minor details that makes you claustrofobic. Listening to the violin-like volume swells in the final section are something worth living for, so is the final jam.
Ok, so now I’m going to explain why the 4,5 rating and not a 5 since I already said this album is perfect in it’s on way. Well, the real big problem with this album is because it’s not a Metallica album, but a parallel project using the name Metallica to lure fans to buy it, thinking they were going to hear a Black Album Part II. People should know what they’re buying and the band knew back then that what they were doing was way different from what was expected from them. And they knew people would buy it without knowing what was inside. People would buy anything with Metallica on it.
So, basically, the 0,5 I discarted was from the level of expectations the band created just to win more bucks. The music is awesome, but it’s not what the people who bought expected at all, they were conned. It’s like buying a mango tasting like a banana. When you buy a mango you expect it to be a bad mango or a good mango but not a damn banana! At least it was not as bad as with St. Anger when they made a crappy album that was sales-charted as number one album just like it was number one worse album of the year. At least Load is a good rock album, St. Anger is not good unless you think it’s good when an album sucks.
So stop complaining about Load being a Rock album. Metallica should have warned you, but don’t hate the album because the band cheated on you. There are great songs in here and you should try to listen to them more carefully. You won’t be sorry.