Review Summary: An embarrassing disgrace to Metallica.
Metallica are the greatest metal band ever for one reason and one reason only. Instrumentation wise, they are obviously competent yet average in accordance with their peers. Several bands thrashed harder in the 80’s and most of those thrashers who thrashed hard didn’t end up cutting their hair to get attention from Rolling Stone. Most importantly, those thrash metal heroes didn’t act like limp wristed wet-ends embroiled in mid-life crisis (Some Kind of Monster) like Metallica, or if they sobbed like disenfranchised school girls behind the scenes, they were smart enough to know that being f*cking metal means you do not ever, never, f*cking ever sip $9 waters, eat fruit, and cry to a therapist on film. The beastly man who used to pound beers while taking a break from being the epitome of awesome at concerts and used to lead crowds in chants of “F*CK YEAH JAMES” was reduced to the epitome of a man who is UN-METAL. And while we are ranting about St. Anger aside, let’s get back to the point about why Metallica is the greatest metal band ever and why "ReLoad" unequivocally sucks so hard.
The reason Metallica are the greatest metal band comes down to song-writing ability. Every album before “ReLoad” (and I’m counting “Load” to a certain extent) is absolutely bursting with metal anthems that ride massive hooks and sing along choruses explicitly designed to pump fists and crush skulls, but the most important thing is they were painstakingly constructed and intrinsically structured to be easy to remember. James and Lars have had their share of douche moments and the latter’s actual musical ability is highly questionable, but they were geniuses in knowing that the most important thing in rock music is to write songs that people can easily grasp and latch on to, and in the case of metal, thrash hard with confidence of knowing the words. There was always a flow to Metallica, a laser-like focus among the flying riffs and songs about war and death. Execution was key and the formula was always apparent, the proof lying in the distinct lack of filler in their first 5 or 6 albums, depending who you ask.
“St. Anger” was a terrible album and time for Metallica, but taken in context is only about 1/10th as embarrassing as “ReLoad.” Sure, a lot of people think “Load” sucked merely because they think Metallica sold out, but it’s difficult to deny that from a structural standpoint it is an extremely well written and executed Hard Rock album. The problem with “ReLoad” is that while Metallica was entering the downside of their prime, they were still at the point where they had the capability to follow that formula of successful songwriting as evidenced on “Load.” The crux with “ReLoad” resides in its nature, ie the fact it is bristling with the garbage that wasn’t good enough to put on “Load.” It is absolutely a record of throw-away songs, which upon one listen is as strikingly apparent as standing next to someone who just dropped a hot steaming load into their pants. Sure, “Fuel” has an ok riff and “Prince Charming” is kind of a lost gem, but the majority of “ReLoad” sounds like it was written by Hetfield when he was passing the time taking a sh*t and may have been a few tunes Lars had in his head while playing impossibly bad tennis. It carries none of the enthralling hooks and anthemic overtones of past Metallica records, and it’s completely f*cking boring, devoid of any soul and a literal blueprint to the definition of the word filler.
In the past Metallica’s worst was still as strong as many band’s best efforts, but the punch-less, wallowing nature of ReLoad goes to show it was absolutely a crash grabbing tactic and the band obviously did not give a sh*t at all about its quality, completely divergent to how much effort they put into “St. Anger.” “Anger” sucked at a level of suckage previously thought unattainable, but they were genuinely trying there. It was misguided and unequivocally atrocious, but they actually gave a sh*t, if anything probably too much. “ReLoad” is an album that I am ashamed to have purchased. “The Unforgiven 2” is a flat out embarrassing retread of one of their all-time classics. “Slither,” “Carpe Diem,” “Devil’s Dance,” and “Where The Wild Things Are” are probably four of the worst 5 songs Metallica ever wrote, and “The Memory Remains” is absolutely the worst single in their history, complete with Marianne Faithful resembling a braying, disease ridden goat in the songs coda. “Fixxxer” is obviously the festering remains of the “Bleeding Me/Outlaw Torn” epic writing sessions, and “Low Man’s Lyric,” while displaying some kind of ironic campiness for trying to sound Celt, was certainly one of the worst ideas that ever popped into Ulrich’s already massive cranium. When Metallica actually does remember “holy sh*t, we’re Metallica, we should probably have a few songs that actually try to rock,” as seen on “Bad Seed,” “Better Than You,” and “Attitude,” the bite is as toothless as a sister f*cking inbred from Sweet Home Ala-bam. It’s a shame. It’s embarrassing. It’s worse than James quitting drinking and setting back the metal race about 8 light years.
When a great entity loses their ability (St. Anger), its more sad than anything. When a great entity still has the ability to be great but mails it in in the most epic form imaginable, its actually infuriating. Hetfield probably seriously regrets screaming “FRANTIC TICK TICK TICK TOCK” in completely obvious mid-life crisis mode, but he should absolutely be more embarrassed for putting out “ReLoad,” as it is his and Metallica’s worst effort and a disgrace to metal and the band’s legacy. On the “Load” tour everyone screamed along when James told the crowd to yell “F*CK YEAH” before his name. On The “ReLoad” tour, changing “yeah” to “you” would have been more appropriate. ReLoad sucks.