Review Summary: Metallica's Reload. A step into nowhere.
Metallica conquered the rock world in 1991 with their self-titled album, resulting in huge hits like ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and ‘The Unforgiven’. The album was received well enough, even though the bands fan base was a bit worried about the musical direction the band was taking.
‘Load’ was released during 1996, and this is the point where Metallica lost the plot, according to some people. The album was bluesy, the songs were simpler and the band cut their hair. The anger over such an action still puzzles me 'til today.
‘Reload’ was released the following year, and as can be expected the album was creamed by critics and fans alike. It’s simply wasn’t what they believed Metallica should sound like.
‘Load’ in my opinion is a strong album, with some of Metallica’s best songs. ‘Reload’ is made of leftovers from the ‘Load’ sessions, it’s a heavier album than its predecessor but the songs are generally weaker.
‘Fuel’ and ‘The Memory Remains’ start of the album pretty darn well. ‘Fuel’ is now considered a classic; it has a fast albeit simple riff, a good solo and is just a great deal of fun to listen to. The opening verses of ‘Fuel’ can be repeated by any Metallica fan in the world. ‘The Memory Remains’ has the infamous ‘na na nas’ in it, but other than that it’s a worthy additions to the Metallica catalog. The song seems to show some influence from the grunge rock movement of the time, especially in Hetfield’s singing.
‘Devil’s Dance’ is a bluesy number; it has a mean beat and is quite catchy. The song clocks in at 5:19; making it a bit too long as it starts to drag towards the end. ‘The Unforgiven II’ is another good song; it takes the best elements from the first song and improves on them. While the original was mostly a pop ballad with rock elements sprinkled over it, to make it appear like a rock song, the sequel is a much more aggressive and respectable track for Metallica to make.
After the strong first four songs the album declines at this point with the completely forgettable ‘Better than You’, and the too long and repetitive ‘Slither’. ‘Carpe Diem Baby’ picks up again with a good building up intro and a catchy and dark chorus. The verses are a bit bland, but the solo is strong.
‘Bad Seed’ is a short and average rock song. The chorus is good, but in generally it doesn’t have much lasting value. ‘Where the Wild Things are’ is a brilliant song though. Lars’s drumming pervades most of the song, with a strong beat that creates the menacing atmosphere that dominates the song. Hetfield seems to be really trying on this one, and the song also has a brilliant and eerie break down section before building to its climax. ‘Prince Charming’ is a decent and cheeky rock song; it’s a bit too long but has a good solo. The band seems to be having fun with this song.
The last three songs on the album are a bit weak, and the albums finale is a bit underwhelming. ‘Low Man’s Lyric’ is the ballad of the album, and it has some good lyrics, but the song clocks in at more than 7 minutes, making it way too long and at the end boring. The closer ‘Fixxxer’ suffers from the same problem. The song has great lyrics, and a very interesting chorus, but is about 3 minutes too long. Kirk gives a solo for the last 4 minutes, but it’s not memorable or entertaining enough to warrant multiple listens.
Metallica followed up this album with ‘St.Anger’, which was a heavy mess. ‘Death Magnetic’ was when Metallica finally returned to their roots, 19 years after they had changed their style. It wasn’t a complete success, and undoubtedly we will never get another ‘Master of Puppets’ or even a ‘Black Album’, but it was a step into an acceptable direction.