Ah, Reload. I’ve always been somewhat on the fence with this album. On one hand sure it’s not Metallica’s usual work. It’s not even really metal, it’s more like hard rock. But the material isn’t that bad, it’s got some great songs and there’s nothing wrong with hard rock. On the other hand there name isn’t Hardrock-allica its Metallica. Their music shouldn’t be hard rock it should be metal, and that’s all there is too it. Also, after their previous great albums such as “Master Of Puppets”, “Ride The Lightning” and “And Justice For All” this album was like a proverbial slap in the face.
So, as you can see I was hard pressed to decide how I wanted to do this review. I could do it as a biased angry Metallica fan and go on in and endless rant about how bad this is. Or, I could be fair and do a review based on this album alone and ignore how bad it is in compared to their previous albums (excluding Load, that and this album are about tied). Although the first option was tempting I decided to go with the second.
Now, as I now do in all my reviews I will describe the overall sound of the album before I get into my track by track. You’re welcome to those out there who aren’t fond of TBT’s. The sound in this album as I already mentioned is more hard rock than anything else. Some of the songs are in either drop D or drop C. There are plenty of solos. They’re not really up to par with Kirk’s usual work but they’re not too bad as far as solos go. The vocals on this album are a little bit deeper and a tab raspier than James’s vocals on previous albums. The drums and bass are pretty basic but they didn’t take anything away from the album. All in all pretty good sounding album.
Fuel (5/5): This song gets right down to business. No real intro James just gets right into it with the vocals. This is an excellent track to head bang too. Nice fast pace throughout. The guitar work was a tad simple, but it’s hard to tell because it’s played quite fast. The solo isn’t anything to phone home about but it’s pretty good. There are also some nice solo-y riffs under the verses and chorus to give the song that little extra something.
The Memory Remains (4.5/5): Like Fuel this song gets right into things with the vocals. Then it goes into a nice melodic verse riff. After the first chorus there’s nice little solo. There’s some excellent soloing under the last verse before the main solo of the song. The main solo itself was pretty basic but it did go well with the track. Overall this was a stellar track. The only thing that kept it from getting a five was that “la-na-na-na” thing the guitar under it was cool but other than that it was just weird.
Devil’s Dance (4/5): Solid track. Starts out with some bass. It’s nothing spectacular but at least you can here it. Then the guitar kicks in with some nice riffage. Then we get into the verse and a very catchy verse it is. The chorus is pretty good too. The solo for this track is pretty unique. I’m not exactly sure what FX Kirk used on it, but it sounds pretty good.
The Unforgiven II (5/5): Stupendous track. By far my favourite from this album. Nice little intro riff to start things off. Then it gets into the verse riff which is just beautiful. The verse itself is quite soft and then when you might be getting bored. They hit you with the chorus. The chorus has some nice powerful vocals, other than that nothing to special but it does pick up the song some. To add a little spice to the second verse Kirk throws some wah under it. Excellent solo in this song. Almost equal to their previous work, but not quite. Near the end of the song when James is singing they throw the verse from the original Unforgiven under his vocals to sort of remind of the first one. I found that to be pretty neat.
Better Than You (3.5/5): Adequate track. Starts off with the some basic guitar. Nothing special, just power chords. Then we get into the verse, again nothing special. Wonderful chorus in this song, though. Nice powerful lyrics in it. There’s a clever little riff that mimics the chorus before the solo. The solo itself was one of the better ones of the album. Considering it actually had some length, unlike most others.
Slither (3/5): Not a very good track. The beginning vocals were hard to understand. The verse and the chorus were kind of boring. The solo saved this song from a 2.5. It was kind of bluesy, I loved it. I’m not going to waste anymore time on this track.
Carp Diem Baby (3.5/5): Splendid intro to this song. First the two guitars play noted back and forth to each other. It almost makes it seems like they’re arguing. Then there’s a very catchy riff the leads into the verse. There isn’t much to say about the verse and chorus. They’re pretty reminiscent of other songs on this album. The solo wasn’t overly thrilling, but it wasn’t too bad either. The song finishes off nicely, also.
Bad Seed (3.5/5): Catchy intro riff. I especially liked the chorus in this song. It had some nice choppy open notes, which gave the chorus an interesting sound. The verse is just, well, the verse. Pleasant solo. Nice and bluesy just how I like it. The main thing that brought this song down was the coughing at beginning and end. It seemed pointless. I know it had something to do with spitting up a “bad seed”, but none the less I found it to be unnecessary and annoying. Other than that this was a satisfactory track.
Where The Wild Things Are (2.5/5): Mediocre track. Pretty much everything about it was bad. Nothing really flowed together well. It sounded very disorganized. The vocals weren’t great. Pretty much the only decent thing was the solo. What was Hetfield thinking with this one?
Prince Charming (4/5): Easily one of my favourite tracks of the album. Good flowing intro. The song stays strong throughout. Good fast pace. The solo as most others was commendable. James also did a good job with the lyrics on this track. Well written song.
Low Man’s Lyric (3.5/5): This song has a bit of a strange feel to it. It’s kind of like where the wild things are, but better. The guitar is pretty quiet for most of the song. Where as the drums are quite loud. That I didn’t really like. I would’ve preferred to hear the guitar. Good chorus in this song, also. Not much else I can say about this track
Attitude (3.5/5): Nice fast track. Sort of thrash, but not really. The vocals were nothing to rave about but they were okay. Good pace throughout the song. Very fast as I already mentioned. This was nice because the last few songs had been slower and I was getting bored. Good length for the solo in this song, also. Unlike most other vocals for the song, the vocals for the bridge were pretty good.
Fixxxer (4/5): Well written track. Although it tends to drag a little. The vocals for this song were unique to say the least. The solo was very good lasting well over a minute. There’s a nice little drum solo in here as well. Overall I thought this was an excellent track to end the album with.
Pros: Some good riffage throughout
I actually liked James’s vocals on this album
Cons: The music tends to all flow together after a while
While the solos were decent they could have been much better
A couple of the slower songs towards the end just made me angry
Overall rating: 3.5/5
Biased overall rating: 2/5
Recommended Tracks: Fuel, The Memory Remains, The Unforgiven II
And so concludes my review. Hope you enjoyed it. As I’ve stated before this is nowhere near Metallica’s best work, but it is worth a listen. Well, maybe not if you’re a hardcore Metallica fan whose only heard their earlier stuff. If that’s you, stay away. But if you’re actually not into Metallica and you’re more into rock music you might like this album. So, give it a listen