Metallica’s Load (1996) is known for being criminally underrated by many fans. So, if you know me, I’m all about checking out the underrated albums because you can get sick of the popular songs, but you can’t get sick of the lesser-known songs!
If I could sum up the Load album in one sentence, it’d be this: Metallica playing kickass songs with bad haircuts. Ok, maybe they weren’t that bad, but at the time, they were shocking for the “so-called” heavy metal worshippers. If Metallica released Load as their first album, then people would’ve dug it. But since they had five albums before that, including their most successful album to date, Metallica (1991), they were taking a huge gamble.
The album saw the band making the transition from thrash metal to hard rock. It also took on influences from country rock, alternative rock, and blues-rock. At 79 minutes, it is Metallica’s longest studio album to date. The songwriting is magnificent, covering topics on depression, anxiety, drug addiction, anger, and death. My favorite song on the album is “Mama Said;” it’s got a country vibe, and it’s about James Hetfield coping with his mother’s death.
Like I said before, if Load is the first Metallica album one listens to, then they’ll enjoy it. For life-long Metallica fans that prefer their heavier stuff, then they’d be very puzzled when “Ain’t My B*tch” comes on. Even the drums sound different from their earlier stuff. It’s a great song; my only complaint is I don’t like how Hetfield overemphasizes “b*tch” in the chorus. I’m not saying swearing in songs should come naturally, but it sounds weird when it’s overdone.
“2×4” is a banger because it’s got a great groove and pretty cool drum fills in there. I feel like “The House Jack Built” would’ve sounded cool on S&M because of the eerie feel to it, and the lyrics say “let the show begin,” so how can you not play that with a symphony? They could’ve covered up the talkbox solo, who knows! I love Metallica, but they don’t stand a chance with Richie Sambora when it comes to the talkbox.
“Until It Sleeps” is a beautiful ballad, and people can interpret it in many ways. It sounds incredible live, especially with Jason Newsted’s backing vocals. “King Nothing” is a good headbanger and has a sick bass line. “Bleeding Me” is perfect for those that are battling depression and features nice drum fills as well. I didn’t realize how haunting “Hero of the Day” was until I read the lyrics, and it got accompanied by a music video that I still can’t comprehend. Now I can’t get Newsted dressed as a game show host out of my head!
“Cure” doesn’t sound like a typical Metallica song, and I thought the intro sounded like “Rocket Queen” from Guns N’ Roses; I still think it kicks a**, partially because of Newsted’s slap bass solo. “Poor Twisted Me” is another slower one, and it has a sick guitar riff. “Wasting My Hate” is everyone’s anthem at the moment. For “Mama Said,” listen to the acoustic guitar, Hetfield’s heart poured out, the lyrics, and try not to cry, I dare you! “Thorn Within” is another great headbanger people can interpret in many ways. The song reminds me of the negative outlook I had on myself in high school till my early years of college, but now I’m like, “f*ck that!”
“Ronnie” has the best guitar riff out of all the songs on the whole album! It reminds me of “Black Ice” by AC/DC, which I don’t mind. It’s got a great groove, sick chorus, an intriguing drum solo, and did I mention an awesome guitar riff? “The Outlaw Torn” is the longest song on the album; the running time is 9:48, but it doesn’t feel long at all. So many things are going on in this song, from Newsted’s backing vocals to the Lars Ulrich’s drum fills, to the bass riff to Kirk Hammett’s guitar solo. It felt like one large jam session. What a brilliant way to end an album!
My final thoughts on Load is it’s a great album, and the fans that despise it are missing out. It’s still Metallica but mixed with different genres of music. All of the songs on the album are heavy and dark, except for “Mama Said,” that’s a different kind of heavy. But do yourself a favor and give the album a chance. It’s worth it, trust me!
Let me know what’s your favorite track from Load in the comments below!
Take care and see ya real soon!