Thursday, July 2, 2009

Underated Classic-Metallica "Load"

I have come to notice that when some albums are released they are praised by fans and critics, shoot to the top of the charts, propel an artist and then years later panned as rubbish or forgotten. Metallica's Load is one of those albums. Released five years after their biggest smash, 1991's Metallica (Black album), 1996's Load was a musical departure for the California metal heads but still had their edge, even though some fans and critics today say with this record they may have lost it. The album came out at a time when Metallica were poised for the ultimate comeback. The road to ruin had been left behind them and Load marked a new chapter in the band's attitude, sound and style. Ridiculed for having cut their hair and wearing Cuban pimp suits on the albums back cover, the band was just simply exploring new territory. In a 1996 interview with Pretty Hate Machine, drummer Lars Ulrich said "This album and what we're doing with it - that, to me, is what Metallica are all about: exploring different things. The minute you stop exploring, then just sit down and fucking die." The sound was not as heavy as previous Metallica records, Ulrich abandoned the bands signature double bass sound and slowed the tempo down just a bit, but the band still brought the intensity. Guitarist Kirk Hammet and singer guitarist James Hetfield adopted a blues style guitar playing and Hetfields lyrics became more personal and reflective than ever before. Also unlike previous records, the band's art choice was much different, instead of dark images or images of death, torture and destruction, the band took a "creative approach," you would say to the cover and booklet. Featuring a painting of bloody seamen on the cover from artist Andres Serrano and photos by my favorite photographer, Anton Corbijn, it was a more stylized approach to the band's overall image and package. Load would go on to be a mega success for the band and their longest studio record to date clocking in at almost 79 minutes, fans and critics today have panned it as the album that Metallica went soft or do not have an edge. I personally think not, in fact they adopted a new edge by doing this and showed how unafraid they are to step into new territory, a great album and one to pick up again.