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Even though the experimental rock album "ReLoad" consists of leftovers from the controversial and inconsistent "Load" release, I actually prefer this record to the predecessor. This album may be a lot of hit and miss but it has an uncompromising and liberating rock'n roll spirit that suits the band much better than the extremely forced commercial groove metal release "Metallica" and the failed southern rock output "Load" that could never meet the elevated expectations related to the brand name Metallica. From the beginning on, it was clear that this album was sort of a bonus record and more of a compilation than an actual attempt to hit the charts even if it ended up peaking the hit lists all around the world. Without any commercial or stylistical boundaries, this album sounds energizing, experimental and honestly grounded. Especially the vocals are performed with a fresh dose of passion and the passionate hard rock guitar sounds adds a new face to the band. This is what makes this record's charm. If you are looking for a thrash metal record, you're at the wrong address but if you like different rock subgenres and want to hear a band that actually does what it really wants, you could appreciate this album.
It's obvious that an album filled with thirteen tracks and a running time of more than seventy-six minutes includes a few fillers. These songs are either groove metal tracks or southern hard rock tunes. The monotonous "Devil's Dance" has a few catchy hooks but is musically forgettable and sounds like slow paced groove metal. The riffs sound uninspired, the bass guitar doesn't sound distinctive enough and the drumming is so simplistic one gets the impression that Lars Ulrich is playing with a broken arm and a broken leg. In my opinion, this is by far the worst song on the album. "Bad Seed" sounds quite similar but has more speed, angrier vocals and a few vocal samples that add some diversity and all these elements keep the track from failing. It's nothing extraordinary but a cool tune to listen to from time to time. "Prince Charming" is also among the songs situated somewhere between filler material and average tracks. The hard rock guitar sounds and the motivated vocals save an otherwise boring song. Among the more southern or hard rock driven songs, "Attitude" is probably the most energizing and speediest track. Once again, it's nothing exceptional and more of a filler but it works perfectly in the context of the album. Among the four least impressive songs, it's clearly the best.
The other songs are quite eclectic and experimental and it's a matter of personal taste if you like this kind of music or not. Apart of the endlessly plodding and somewhat headless closer "Fixxxer", I do like all of them. My personal standouts are first of all the catchy rocker and yet mysteriously spiritual "The Memory Remains" with its unusual and unique backing and guest vocals. Up next is "The Unforgiven II" which is by far the best part of the trilogy in my opinion. It's inspired by country music or a western soundtrack and has really unique atmosphere. The versatile, masculine and emotionally driven vocals are really epic in my opinion. The dark, hypnotizing and almost gothic-driven "Where the Wild Things Are" is really dragging me into a floating atmosphere and can be described as hidden gem and unexpected grower. It's the kind of eerie song I would have rather expected from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds but the track has a clear concept, a lot of soul and doesn't sound like anything one has heard from Metallica before or ever after. My last personal highlight is the controversially discussed "Low Man's Lyrics". I adore the decent and original use of violin and especially hurdy gurdy on this laid back ballad. Once again, the vocals are really outstanding as Hetfield varies from fragile and melodic parts to angrier and rawer passages. The song is not only epic and an emotional roller coaster ride like "The Unforgiven II" but also includes simple but great melodies and introspective lyrics. Both ballads are in my opinion among the best the band ever made and are much more unique than other songs of the same kind.
In the end, I like this record's stripped down, honest and yet eclectic approach and I never get bored of it. Many metal bands experimented back in the days and tried to reinvent themselves. Metallica's attempt at doing so sounds much more convincing to me than anything released by Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer at the same time for example. I can though also understand that metal fans have problems to open up to such a long and at times plodding release. If the band had released the very best songs of this album with the few great cuts from "Load" as one experimental southern rock release with a clear guiding line, I guess its perception would be better nowadays. I think that this album is somewhat underestimated for what it is. Maybe it's time for some fans to give this album a new try after all these years of denial. Personally, I really adore two-thirds of the album while the four fillers and the closing oddball are still really acceptable tunes on average which explains my favorable final rating.
"I only like Metallica's first four albums!" It's a phrase many people have heard when discussing this band. It's a statement usually taken to mean the metalhead in question is truly, absolutely only into metal and will take none of that sell-out crap. That they only enjoy, of course, their early thrash metal albums; the only good Metallica albums. Is it a matter of them being pure and unscathed by the forthcoming commercial breakthrough that culminated in the sell-out albums that followed? Is it because their songwriting and riffwork prowess was inherently superior? Or is it simply because they're metal? Now, I'm not here to make a case for or against those first four; everybody has heard them, everybody knows what they sound like, and consequently everybody has differing opinions about them. Maybe you only like the first two, maybe you only like the debut, maybe you don't like them at all. It's not a big deal, because discussions regarding Metallica aren't very interesting these days. I, for one, like a few songs here and there, but listening to those albums as a whole doesn't do much for me.
In any case, there's this widely shared view by the metal community claiming that, after ...And Justice for All, the band sold out and began sucking. Maybe some fans still like their self titled, or some tracks out of it, since even if it's poppy and commercial, it's still metal. However, once you get past that point, very few actually find some worth in Load. It isn't a metal album; not at all. It is, at best, a hard rock album with some experimentation with other genres thrown in. Even then, a small group of people still like it, or at least one or two of its tracks. I've even met a person who once claimed it was their favourite Metallica album! Strange, huh? But then it may still be at the very least understandable, since they probably like the new adventurous take on songwriting the band took on the album, or something like that.
But then you get to ReLoad, and shit hits the fan.
It's just an album full of Load out-takes, isn't it? Even the band themselves have said so; that it's simply a bunch of songs that didn't make it into the first one, or that it's merely its second half. The result is still the same; it's still one of their least-liked, and certainly their least well-remembered album in general. Hell, I could say most people haven't even listened to it all the way through beyond the first four or so songs. And here's where I have what is one of the weirdest opinions regarding the band, ever: Even though I don't like or dislike their early albums since I would rather listen to much better 80s bands, ReLoad is my favourite Metallica album. In fact, I could say it's probably my favourite commercial album from the 90s.
Musically speaking, it's absolutely fun to listen to; it's catchy, and so focused on the interplay between simple songwriting and simple riffs, that I can only imagine the sad context in which these songs must have been written. That's because, for me, this is where the band truly found a ground that worked perfectly in their favour. After years of writing some rather bland thrash, trying (and mostly failing) to make poppy heavy metal, and then releasing an album full of experimentation in a way that I can only see as a desperate method to find what could end up working for them, they released a straight out hard rock/grunge album which was so far away from what fans could ever expect, that everyone pretty much promptly hated it right away.
The music is very mid-paced for the most part, for one. However, instead of opting to go for the chug-chug Pantera riffing which was so popular at the time, the riffs are very bluesy, and they have a distinct melancholic rocking sound to them. Load had the issue of being sometimes too ambitious for its own good, as the band weren't used to playing some of the styles in it. However, this one mixes bare bones rock stripped down to elements which were much easier to arrange with a couple of more experimental tracks. As a consequence, there's little to no filler here. Every song has, for the most part, solid main riffs coupled with one or two other riffs that mostly just play off motifs from the main one, giving the songs an overall sense of cohesion. To put it in better terms; on other albums, the band just went way over their heads on what they could accomplish musically, which is why some sections simply don't work out in the end. But on ReLoad, they already had years of experience on their shoulders, and at the same time they were trying out for a very simple approach regarding the riffwork, the songwriting, and their performances. Therefore, they excelled at it by toning it down.
A good example of this improvement via toning down is Lars Ulrich's drumming. He has never been particularly good or interesting as a metal drummer, but he adopted a very minimalist style for both Load and ReLoad, resulting in a performance that not only made much more sense given his abilities, but is also infinitely more enjoyable because his metal background allowed him to play with a particular groove that wouldn't have worked out right if he were a standard rock drummer. The drums also have a very wide resounding sound-space, which allows them to shine without getting too bright like they did on The Black Album. This is especially true for the sound of the kick drum, which is trebly as per usual but doesn't get rough on the ears because there are pretty much no double bass drumming parts whatsoever, aside from a couple of seconds on "Fuel" and "Bad Seed". And when they do appear, they're slow; giving the music something that I can only describe as a marching feel, instead of the tickticktick produced by the stream of 16th notes that plagued ...And Justice for All. This, coupled by the fact that the album is pretty mid-paced overall, means Lars's performance and sound fits much better than on other albums, actively complementing the riffwork while having a few moments to shine by itself.
The drumming has a very interesting interplay with the bass. Jason Newsted is a good enough bass player, and he has a very rough tone here. Not only is he able to work around the low end by playing around the drum patterns, but he will sometimes start playing a bass line different from the guitar riffs, but in a way which mixes both the rhythmic and melodic parts. His work on "Devil's Dance" and "The Memory Remains" is particularly stand-out, as it is the most varied and probably the coolest to listen to, but his dark, brooding bass lines on "Fixxxer" are the ones I enjoy the most.
I've listened to this album a couple hundred times already and I always find some little melodies in the background that are so subtle you wouldn't notice them without headphones, and yet so essential that such sections would feel half-empty without them! I have never been a big fan of Hammet's soloing on other albums, but his bluesy style fits ReLoad's theme perfectly. He also tones down considerably on his overuse of the wah-wah pedal, instead opting for a very tasteful mix of bluesy pentatonic scale soloing and slower, more emotional sections. His solos on "The Unforgiven 2" and "Carpe Diem Baby" are very good examples of this, and probably my personal favourites.
There are layers of guitars in the background here and there which work surprisingly well, even though they're so subtle you can't actually notice them without actively looking for them. Considering Kirk's career, I would have never thought of him as a subtle guitarist, ever. Early on he mostly just lapsed into weedly-doos and wahwah-wees whenever he wanted, regardless of their place in the songs. Even his work with the wah pedal works out better here because he uses it in a way more reminiscent of a "voice" instead of as a way to mask his shitty playing. Take the solo on "Where the Wild Things Are"; it's much slower than what he usually plays, it's very short and to the point, and, given the context and theme of the song, his use of the wah pedal sounds downright frightening because of it.
However, in spite of the brilliant performances present here, it's the songwriting and arrangements that really do this album for me. The songs are of medium-length on average; not being either too short or too long for the most part, which allows them to build up their themes comfortably. There's a lot of variation, even if at the core it's a simple album! From dumb sing alongs like "Fuel" (which I love to sing along to even though more than half the lyrics are James Hetfield shouting the words "YEAH!" and "HEY YEAH!"), to pretty ballads such as "The Unforgiven 2" and "Low Man's Lyric", which are actually quite different from each other. The former is the best power ballad in their career while the latter sounds closer to a dark bluesy folk song. I really like that "All ah want from you is forgive mayeeeeh..." section on it; which also features something akin to Hetfield trying to do a southern accent or something, which I guess works considering the general vibe of the track. "Carpe Diem Baby" is my favourite track off the album because it manages to mix pretty much all of these elements in the fashion of a dark/light interplay. Even if the lyrics are terrible - "Then make me miss youuu ohh yeaahh~!"
On that note, Hetfield's singing lessons really come to shine, with him giving off the single best vocal performance in his entire career. ReLoad uses a big amount of vocal overlays and harmonies which perfectly support the already strong main melodies, and improve a good performance by what is usually a merely decent singer. He gets to sound great on the ballads, and also on even stranger songs such as the psychedelic aforementioned "Where the Wild Things Are", where he sounds maddened and despaired, to the Motörhead-influenced (that's right!) "Prince Charming", where he sounds downright rockin'. Nevertheless, it's the vocal harmonies that really cut it - I'd be hard pressed to find a section where there aren't two or more Hetfields singing at the same time, exploring both his lower and higher registers which hadn't been very present before.
Production-wise, I'd say it's the best work they ever did. I'm not sure if there's any aesthetic difference between this and Load's, but they're still both good. The guitar tone sounds crunchy, and way heavier and thicker that what you'd expect from a hard rock album, so that's obviously a plus since the guitar tone has always been Metallica's strongest asset. As I already mentioned, the drums sound huge, but at the same time they sound rich and full of dynamics - you can hear and distinguish the tiniest things, like when Lars hits a hi-hat with more or less strength than usual. The mixing isn't muddy in the least bit, allowing you to listen to every single little detail on everyone's performance - from the low gurgles of the bass, to the guitar picks lightly scraping against the strings. If you look for it, you'll find it. The rhythm guitar doesn't completely overpower the leads as it did on the self titled either, so when the solos come into play, they take the centre stage.
The album isn't without a couple of flaws, but they're nothing out of the ordinary. "Better Than You" doesn't do much for me in general, and sometimes I lose interest during the a couple of sections in the middle section of the album. If you took the best tracks off Load and put them here instead of its weaker sections you would have a hell of an album - but it would also be like 100 minutes long and that would be kind of overkill. In any case, this really is my favourite Metallica album, and it's the only one I actually listen to all the way through on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure I'm all alone here regarding my views on it, but that's okay. I enjoy it whole-heartedly, and I guess that's because I've never been the biggest fan of the band's other works. But enough of that, you should probably give ReLoad a chance, and listen to it in a mood other than "this is a sell-out album and therefore it sucks because it's not the usual Metallica". It's a fun little rocking album that manages to remain consistent most of the way through, which is a feat no other album by the band has accomplished so far. The saddest part out of this is that they found the best sound in their career, the one they could be really comfortable with playing, only for most of their fans to completely hate it and lash out against them - no wonder Lars ended up suing them.
Let me to start off by saying that I’m a metal-head, proud and loyal, not some mainstream kid who believes that the Red Hot Chilli Peppers are the most talented band ever, or that Justin Bieber has the best voice in the industry. I love metal, but I can appreciate it when bands choose to change their musical direction. Metallica has been consistently assaulted with harsh, negative reviews with labels like “Sell-out”, “Mainstream” and “Alternative”, following the release of Load and ReLoad. These widespread propaganda-like statements not only prove the narrow-minded intolerance of the writer, but, in many cases have caused listeners to develop a very negative attitude to the record, before giving it a fair go. Before analysing the music of ReLoad, let us sort out a few pressing issues:
1. Metallica did not sell out... If by following your musical interests and believing in a change of direction is selling out, then I’ve lost all faith in the musical community.
2. Metallica is not mainstream... Despite a less aggressive approach, Load and ReLoad do not crossover into the mainstream audience. Perhaps Metallica is no longer the underground thrash metal act it used to be, but by no means is it a mainstream crowd-pleasing pussy band.
3. Metallica is not an ‘Alternative’ band... Yes, there are songs that have alternative rock tendencies, but not to the extent of R.E.M. or modern Good Charlotte.
Okay, now... ReLoad is definitely not my favourite Metallica album (that would be a three way tie between Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and ...And Justice for All), but this does not distort the fact that it is musically worthwhile.
The approach undertaken by Metallica is very similar to their style on Load, an emphasis on hard rock, as opposed to its’ heavy metal predecessor, the Black Album. In fact, ReLoad contains songs that were originally intended to be released on Load, as a 2CD album, and true to this, ReLoad seamlessly continues the trend. From the initial moments of crowd-favourite Fuel, the opening track, it is clear to the listener that Metallica has committed to another hard rock record. The heavy riff-age and rock-style drumming provides a perfect insight into the tracks to come. These form the backbone of the album.
Gone are the blazing guitar solos and furious choruses of Master of Puppets and Justice. Metallica, instead, seems to have expanded on the more abstract techniques, such as those found in Load’s ‘The House That Jack Built’. This is clearly demonstrated in songs like The Memory Remains, Slither, Where the Wild Things Are, and Low Man’s Lyric. Hetfield digitally disfigures his voice, rather annoyingly, in several instances like Slither’s chorus (“See you crawling”), creating an almost whining impression. This element, I believe, adds nothing to the value of the song, and is the only thing I truly dislike about this album. Ulrich’s drumming is permanently slower, with the exception of ‘Fuel’ and parts of ‘Bad Seed’, further cementing the bands departure from metal. Whilst I have always respected Lars for his efforts in the classic albums, and more recently, St. Anger and Death Magnetic, his performance in Load and ReLoad is rather slow (and, dare I say, occasionally boring). Jason Newsted, the bands’ “energy bunny”, as claimed by Lars, is still struggling to be heard, despite the clear and polished production; and Kirk Hammett’s solos are less-than-memorable, and few and far between.
ReLoad does, however, have its fair share of ‘keepers’:
• The Unforgiven II is a simply beautiful, melodic sequel to the original. James’ voice is strong, yet soothing, full of purpose and emotion. The powerful chorus amplifies the mood, contrasting the softer, more placid verses. I get shivers thinking of how good it is. Possibly the most underrated song on the album.
• Prince Charming is a catchy, faster paced hard rocker. The opening riff draws me in every time I listen to it. The chorus (“Hey look, it’s me! The one who can’t be free. Much too young to focus, but too old to see,”) seals the deal. Again, very underrated.
• Fuel. If you’re even only a small time fan of Metallica, Fuel is bound to be one of the first songs you come across. Energetic and thick, Fuel remains a staple element of Metallica’s set list.
• The Memory Remains is a more obscure form of hard rock. The guest vocals (courtesy of Marianne Faithfull) during the ‘outro’, are strange, yet create an eerie, fading atmosphere. Nonetheless a very worthwhile song.
Lyrically, Metallica seems to have taken a couple of steps backwards. Unlike the fiery anthems such as the environmentally motivated ‘Blackened’, or the truth-seeking ‘Eye of the Beholder’, the lyrics presented in ReLoad seem to lack a greater meaning. For example, Fuel. Driving really fast cars, really dangerously. An immature topic (reminiscent from the adolescent ‘Motorbreath’), and definitely absent from a greater sense of purpose. This may not be of concern to you, but personally, I take great pride in listening to good music with sensible and purposeful lyrical content. To me, it just proves that a band is not only a group of talented musicians, but a group of vigilant and aware individuals. Metallica is certainly capable of being in this category of “meaningful metal”; however ReLoad is a letdown in this regard.
Concluding, ReLoad is not Metallica’s fastest production, nor is it their best. What ReLoad is, is a catchy, thick-and-heavy album, which embraces less-traditional musical techniques and explores new horizons set forth by Load. I strongly encourage the reader not to judge this album from the harsh reviews it has so often received. I implore you not to jump on the bandwagon. If ReLoad is listened to with an open mind, I guarantee it will pleasantly surprise.
After the controversy caused by the release of “Load”, a very strong album that showed the new direction Metallica went through, “Reload” was released, an album mostly filled with the tracks that didn't make it onto “Load”. At least some songs of this album were written before the release of “Load”, I'm pretty sure of it since “Devil's Dance” was performed twice during 1995, together with “2x4”.
As for the music, this is not a metal album, like most of you know, but it is not “Load II” either; while “Load” was a pretty bluesy album, with lots of melancholic songs and such (“Bleeding Me”, “Outlaw Torn”, “Until it Sleeps”, “Mama Said”, etc.), “Reload” shows the band adopting a hard rock sound, some songs even reminding me of some classic rock bands out there. The tunes are generally heavy and fairly aggressive at times, an example being the opener or “Attitude”. All the tracks are also relatively long, thanks to some extended solo sections and intrumental parts, which is a thing that I truly appreciate. While the songs are not progressive 'monsters', so to speak, a la “...And Justice for All” (which is, by the way, the best Metallica record ever), their structures are quite interesting at times, two examples being the false ending of “Better than You” and the bridge of “Fixxxer”.
Speaking about “Fixxxer”, this is a song that disappointed me a bit. It is not a bad song, by any means, no – but it still can't reach the greatness of the amazing “Outlaw Torn”. I don't know, but when I saw that “Fixxxer” was the longest song of “Reload” and also the closer, I really thought it would be a diamond like “Outlaw Torn”. Unfortunately, I was wrong, but it still is a pretty good song, containing some catchy riffs and one of the best solos of the album.
Returning to the comparison between “Load” and “Reload”, James' vocal approach here is pretty aggressive and his voice sounds pretty damn raw at times. With “Load” he adopted a more melodic approach, but he's absolutely different here, try to listen to “Better than You” and “Wasting My Hate” and you'll see. As for the production, it is pretty good (obviously, this is Metallica) and clear, the guitar assuming the main role, the bass being audible during most of the time and the drums always there.
Kirk's performance here is pretty competent, but I still think that this new sound Metallica adopted didn't benefit him at all; he is a metal guitar player, no doubts about it, he can't just pull out those melodic, emotional solos that frequently, and that doesn't benefit the album. On “AJFA”, for example, he made songs like “Shortest Straw” what they were, with his tight lead playing, but, this time, he has not enought space to shine and some solos of this album are clearly underdeveloped and even weak. As for Lars, he still is extremely predictable; the new sound Metallica adopted doesn't benefit him that much either; he clearly overuses the “kick-snare-kick-snare” pattern and his fills are weak during most of the times. His performance is average, all in all.
As for the songs, I clearly disagree with the majority of the reviewers who said that the first three tunes of the album are the highlights; hell no, “Fuel”, “The Memory Remains” and “Devil's Dance” bore me, perhaps because I've already heard them too many fucking times. The best of the three probably is “Fuel” though: it clearly is the fastest and the most 'metal' tune of the bunch. “Devil's Dance” is very groovy, albeit repetitive, and “The Memory Remains” sounds great live, but the studio version doesn't hold my attention.
“Unforgiven II” is a competent ballad, nothing special, but it is when we reach “Better than You” that the album really gets going: this song is pretty damn good, in my opinion, great chorus and I love the false ending. The vocals on this track are also very very aggressive, great stuff. “Slither” follows and it is also pretty midpaced, with nice riffs. “Carpe Diem Baby” is a clear highlight, being the seventh track and sounding like a more elaborated version of the previous two songs. “Bad Seed” is a bit faster, even containing some double-bass parts, “Prince Charming” wins the prize for the song with the best riffs of this album, and finally “Fixxxer” closes the album perfectly.
Unfortunately, there are some more fillers hidden here, “Low Man's Lyric” being one of them. It is a very very repetitive tune, and the fact that it contains some violin lines doesn't help. “Attitude” is a really bad song, probably the only BAD tune of the record, and “Where the Wild Things Are” is a bit better but far from a good song, despite its relatively intricate and complex structure.
So, at the end of the day a solid hard rock album, being quite good at times. If you enjoyed “Load” (or if you like hard rock) you'll like this album that's for sure. Highlights: “Fixxxer” and “Prince Charming”.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the beginning of “Fuel”.
- the “to fall in love with life again” part of “Fixxxer”.
I think by now most people have been confounded by Metallica's career at one point. It was smooth sailing for the most part until they got shown the light of success. From that point on, every step Metallica has made has proven to be a mistep. The Black Album was very successful, but at the price of integrity; a former thrash giant turned into a pop metal outfit. As the popularity of metal waned, they tried to cash in on the popularity of alt-rock, and failed miserably, for the most part because Load had "poser" written all over it. They simply tried to be something they're not. Which brings us to this. This is another misstep in the career of Metallica.
Load was thoroughly rejected by most self-respecting metalheads, but embraced, if not coldly, by the "music press" consisting mostly of MTV and the like. So Metallica decided something: If the massive amounts of money they made from the black album and Load were good, then MOAR MONEY would be better! So what better way to make more money with the least amount of effort than to fill an album up with b-sides and rejects?
Which is what they did here. Again, another misstep. While *slightly* more metal than Load, it makes up for it in that while at least Load was somewhat well thought out, Reload was not. I do not consider Re-Load to be a proper album. Sure, it is a collection of songs pressed to CD, but as far as an album goes, while at least Load was coherent, this is not. It goes from being more metal oriented (do not confuse metal-oriented with actual metal) to being complete rock, not even of the hard kind. Metallica has lost their edge, no doubt about it, but this comes off as a last ditch attempt to gain respect, which of course is not going ot happen because this is unabashed commercialism, and nobody respects you for that.
The one song a lot of people like, Fuel, is good at 1 or 2 listens, and while being catchy, it's kind of a stupid song, and gets annoying real quickly. The Unforgiven was a snorefest to begin with; The Unforgiven II is doubly the snorefest.
I don't think I can really pick choice cuts out of this mess; I can name songs that are complete shit, like Fixxxer, Low Man's Lyric, and Better Than You, but I cannot name choice cuts, because it seems to be either completely forgettable or only memorable due to extreme amounts of suck and fail.
As well, this is not the last misstep in Metallica's career. Following this was S&M, which was more cacaphony than music, and St. Anger, which was a pathetic and poorly produced attempt to cash in on the Numetal trend. Metallica really have got to be the biggest sellouts in the history of music. I cannot name any artist who made a bigger about-face and pissed on their legacy more than Metallica. While St. Anger takes the cake for being the absolute worst of Metallica, Reload is up there among their list of abominations and embarrassments to the world of music.
Ok, Metallica. What the hell is this? You've made some good stuff in the past, heck, I'll even go to saying 'Load' was a good album, but this is just stupid.
There is nothing funny about this music, yet every time I listen to it I find myself laughing. From the moment it starts with "Fuel" it's hilarious. This song sounds like a comedy act at the beginning. The song itself is one of the worst I’ve heard and some people regard it as a classic. WOW! In fact, the whole album feels like this to tell you the truth. There is one song that is worthwhile, that being "The Memory Remains", which I actually like a lot.
Metallica now has to rely on past talent and success to make it. Take for example writing a song called "Unforgiven II." Sure, the first one was alright, but this is the same kind of thing, just, not as good. What's next, "One 2", "Enter Sandman Once Again", or "Son Of The Master Of Puppets?" You decide Metallica because I wouldn't be surprised if one of these was on your next album.
The music on this disc is very lame when after listening to Metallica’s better stuff. You have one riff at the beginning of the song which is just alright. I’m fine with that, but Metallica feels the need to base the whole song off of that one repetitive riff instead of doing what they used to do by creating songs that were varied and interesting.
One song called “Low Man’s Lyric” is particularly bad. At the beginning there is some very odd sounding guitar playing slowly something that could be from some old bagpipe tune. Then there are some very annoying hums in the background creating the effect of a horrible attempt at an interesting atmosphere. The song goes on for seven minutes and does nothing interesting.
Then there’s songs like “Fixxxer” that sound like Rage Against The Machine (a band I hate) on crack, mostly because the whole song is based on an absolutely horrible riff. “Devil’s Dance” has lame, boring drumming and then guitars that sound like they are filled with mud and being played by 13 year olds. Even the vocals are not as interesting as they used to be and hearing him say stuff like “Yeah, yeah!” in every song becomes intensely irritating.
The melodic choruses from previous albums have been discarded for short, repetitive, un-melodic lines of horrible lyrics. There is no intense soloing in the songs like there was in previous albums “Master Of Puppets”, or “…And Justice For All” and everything makes you wonder why these artists even bother. It seems as if this band knows they are popular, knows their albums will sell, so they turn out as many as they can to make money. This disgusts me.
I wish I never got this album. I can’t even think of Metallica without thinking of this horrible album. I can't even enjoy their older stuff anymore without being bothered by them stooping this low. If you are a fan of this group then take my advice and don’t get this album. Please don’t because it will cause you nothing but pain and suffering.
A bad album is forgivable. A stupid album is not. These songs range from repeats of old songs to songs that sound like a spoof of a Metallica song. It’s like some kind of twisted wannabe Metallica band who doesn’t really know anything about music. I can’t help but shake my head and sigh when I see this album sitting on the shelf.
To conclude, I really don't like any of these songs except the one I mentioned. The album itself is repetitive. Each song sounds similar to the last and it was very difficult to get all the way through this. I did and I wish I didn't. Sure, there are some "sick riffs" and a lot of "wicked guitar" and even some "like really fast drumming." Sure there are. Don't make me laugh, I've laughed enough listening to this.
On “Reload”, Metallica often sound like a group that has run out of creative musical ideas, being the sister record to the group’s 1996 “Load” release, with the material stemming from the same sessions as that lackluster effort, proving that a combination of the best tracks from the two would have made a fantastic accomplishment, but as separate entities, both of these records fail to recapture the magic that metal fans have come to associate with Metallica.
Admittedly, the group was embroiled in experimentation, looking to meld their massive thrash revered by so many metalheads with a more commercial approach tracks such as the tepid “Devils Dance” or the downright boring, cheeseball “Better Than You” (which sounds more like a throwaway from the Metallica sessions). Producer Bob Rock does his damnedest to make Metallica sound like Motley Crue on the utterly abysmal “Slither.” Here, the listener gains the impression that Metallica are desperately trying to be something that they most certainly are not.
There are a handful of redeeming moments such as the high-energy “Fuel” and the massive, appropriately doomy “The Memory Remains.” Even a reworking of an earlier cut, “The Unforgiven II” has a fair amount of appeal, but in coupling with the majority of this record, it seems quite obvious that at this point, Metallica were running out of ideas and most definitely out of touch with the changing face of heavy metal. Other dismal tracks being not even worthy of mention, “Reload” stands as the absolute worst album in Metallica’s storied history. Further proof that the producer makes the band, these guys should give Bob Rock the pink slip for he is single-handedly contributing to the complete ruin of one of metal’s giants. “Reload” is guaranteed to collect at least a half inch of dust before you care to pull it back out again.
Metallica has been on a steady track towards complete artistic death since the early 90s, this much is obvious. When listening to the tainted fruits of the labor of a band that used to be worth a damn, we must consider the history that spawned the corruption. Although there is a good case to be made that it's origins lie before the Black Album in the mid 80s, it's symptoms did not come about until the Black Album, particularly the tour that supported it.
Being on the road for 4 years plus to support a single album is absolutely ridiculous, I don't care if it's Metallica's self-titled fifth album, or Iron Maiden's Killers (The only album I might be able to make excuses for resulting in a tour this long). Not only do you lose time better spent on writing more music, but you also confound the lines between what truly matters in heavy metal. You begin to see the crowd as some omnipotent collective that makes the music possible, and this is as far from the truth as it gets.
Fans do not create heavy metal, they are not the cause, they are the consequence. The people who created heavy metal were the artists who toiled over their guitars, basses, and drum kits creating something amazing, something that no one had ever done before. The fans came because they saw great music, something so great that their bodies were compulsed to move to it violently, to shout out the lyrics and try to overshadow the people they were idolizing, and ultimately, to pick up an instrument and to do it even better.
Being on the road and touring on your music is one of the greatest things in the world, every time I play a live show I feel a euphoria that nothing else could come close to. However, you don't tour without having something to tour on, something great to make it worth it first to yourself, and then to those whom will come to see you. Metallica forgot this while on the road living the good life, they forgot that what created the music that the audience loves was introspection, and that does not happen on the road.
How does all this relate to this album, this 2nd rate modern rock garbage that is passed off as metal? This album, along with it's predecessor, was written while on the long ass, 4 years plus, Black Album tour. In 4 years, in between concerts and alcohol binges, Metallica created 2 and 1/2 hours of mediocrity as a substitute for true heavy metal.
This album, dubbed "Reload", is essentially a B-side collection of songs that didn't make it onto "Load". From this first fact we learn both that Metallica has actually done something original, create a sequel to something that is actually slightly better than it's predecessor. Consequently, we also learn that Metallica can't tell the difference between bad songs and collections of quasi-good songs. This album actually rocks harder than Load, and has better songs, though to keep the context clear I am comparing this album to an absolute load of shit (no pun intended).
Unfortunately, like the first Load album, only half of the songs here are actually listenable, and of those only a handful are enjoyable. "Better than you" is essentially a better version of "Ain't my bitch" that has stronger riffs and better lyrics, although James' voice is still a shadow of it's former self. "Fuel" has some decent riffs in it, rocks hard and moves fairly quickly, and James' voice is actually sounding quasi-masculine. "Devil Dance" is a slow, heavy, evil sounding track that actually reminds a bit of the slower tracks of the later 80s, though the guitars don't have the punch they used to. "The Unforgiven 2" is essentially a set of recycled riffs from both it's name sake on the Black Album and "Fade to Black", the goal was obviously to have an atmospheric equivalent of "Until it Sleeps", although it's been done before, it towers above most of the other crap on here.
The highlight of this album, ironically, is the most popular one. "The Memory Remains" has a good set of riffs, many of them borrowed from other bands, which is essentially the approach that defined the original thrash sound of their early work. I can hear bits and pieces of "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" here mixed in with "God of Thunder" by Kiss. This is the one track where Kirk's leads actually sound half decent, mostly due to the use of the wah pedal to clean up the choppy Neil Young sound he's adopted. Although it must be stated that both of the Load albums suffer from something else that the Black Album suffered from, overuse of the wah pedal.
The rest of this album is mostly a giant pile of musical debris, and of these only two merited a full listen through. "Low Man's Lyric" is hailed by proponents of this album as another brilliant innovation by the "New Metallica". NONSENSE! RUBISH! POPPYCOCK! Throwing together a 3rd rate country tune and throwing in a violin is not original, I don't care if Metallica does it or if Garth Brooks does it. "Fixxer" is listenable, but suffers from The Outlaw Torn Syndrome, a rare disorder where you have an extremely loose and sloppy performance that meanders around long enough to enduce either deep sleep or a drop in intelligence.
That's right ladies and gentlemen, Metallica successfully released a whole album where after the first 5 tracks, you have nothing but pure crap. Instead of naming this album "Reload" they should have named it "Prematurely blowing your Load", and swapped the album cover from the first Load to underscore the fact. But you know what, it's all fine and dandy because Metallica is back on tour now and we can all go and see them play live and hopefully they'll play some of their older stuff. After all, touring is the only thing Metallica cares about now, as evident to their complete refusal to get the job done in the studio. Maybe next time they'll stop fucking around and go the whole 9 yards and just do farewell tours the way Barbara Streisand does.
As was the case with "Load" this album represents the 2nd step down into the depths of irrelevance. It has some moments, but they represent a total time length of 26 minutes out of nearly an hour and 1/2 worth of music. Between these two albums we have 9 tracks equaling roughly 50 minutes of music, about the average time length of Metallica's early releases. If I had been managing Metallica at this point of their career, I would have combined the 9 decent tracks between these two piles of excrement into one album, dropped the utterly stupid cover arts, and the album titles. For the new album cover I'd use the goofy picture of the band in Pimp outfits and smoking cigars from the back of the first Load, and the new title would be taken from the song "Better than You", both the cover and the title would be symbolic of the arrogance this band has carried with them throughout their career. Then I'd write a review for it here, and it would score a 72, and still be described as a step down from the Black Album. Think it's a good idea? I did it 6 years ago as my first ever CD rip attempt, I accomplished the cover by taping the back picture of the Load album to a piece of printer paper and doodling the new track list on the back in pen. Suffice to say, I listen to it on occasion, and it's alot less painful than listening to what was originally released.
When Load came out, I wasn't a metal fan. I was 10 and my favourite music was Elton John. But I can imagine the slightly confused/angry reaction at the complete change in direction Metallica did. Which begs the question.. Why on Earth did Metallica release this album? A bunch of songs that didn't make it onto Load? What the hell where they thinking?
This album generally continues a lot of the ideas that where on Load. There's the bluesy riffing, and the slight country angle that was present in Load is now a bit more up front. But there's a lot of strange stuff that no other band has ever attempted. It all makes for a rather mixed up album, but it's more cohesive then Load.
Still, don't start thinking that Metallica went completely un-metal. Fuel is a fast, heavy and powerful song, from the catchy opening riffs to the heavy chunking just before the solo. The solo itself is very impressive, very melodic and a bit more like old Hammett. The song Prince Charming should also be mentioned here, because it's just such a menacing song, and very heavy at that. Great song to head bang too, just a great song all round. Full of big riffs and a huge chorus. I think Slither deserves a special mention, because it's verse and pre-chorus are all really, really heavy.
After those three, we're left with a big group of oddities. Bad Seed and Attitude sound like a heavy AC/DC, Memory Remains has some ghoulish vocals served up by Marrianne Faithfull, a big, extended Na-na-na-na ending, and some of the catchiest soloing you will ever hear. Devil's Dance is super groovy, while Low Man's Lyric is almost a straight up country ballad, but full of depth and sadness. Like a lot of these songs, it's unlike Metallica have ever attempted.
Of course, these songs are crappy generic ones compared to Where the Wild things are and Fixxxer. WTWTA is a twisted, multi-layered epic. Full of strange clean parts, strange chromatic bits, military style drums and a fairly unusual, though effective solo. Fixxxer is an 8 minute long epic, with backwards guitars floating around, lots of overdubs, and a very strange, almost spoken word interlude thing. It's another very moody and unusual song from Metallica. It's also the best song on the album.
A lot of these songs vary a bit in quality, but there's a few things on this album that remain constantly top-notch, that is, the vocals, the lyrics, and the production. James can be very abstract on this album, and well, I guess the lyrics do dip a bit in some places, but there is quality in every song, from the whole faded-star stuff on Memory Remains, too the Strange imagery on WTWTA, and definetly on Fixxxer, where he talks about his father's death. The vocals aren't as good as Load, but they are all really, really good. A fair bit of growling, but a lot of full-on singing. His voice isn't as rich as it is on Load, which brings me to the next point: The production. The production is the rawest since AJFA. Well, it's still fairly polished, but unlike Load and Self Titled, it doesn't sound like there where 200 guitar tracks and 100 vocals tracks or whatever. It gives the album a bit of a rough edge, always a good thing.
This album definetly isn't for everybody. For every killer track there's an Unforgiven II or a Better then You. Still, there's a lot of unique, interesting ideas in this album, and if you're an open minded Metallica fan (That may be an oxymoron though. Boom Boom!) you should check this album out.
As a kind of sequel to “Load,” the album “Reload,” was very similar in several different ways; they were written at about the same time, their styles are very similar in that their vocals, guitars, bass and drums all sound the same. The songs on both albums are quite long; and the songs are all not like classic MetallicA. Many people say that Reload is a collection of songs, which didn't make it onto Load. I don’t thinks this is at all true as Reload in my opinion is a better album then Load, unless Lars and James cant figure out which songs they write are any good. .
Overall Reload is nothing brilliant, the song Slither has a catchy main riff…but it is an extreme rip off of their earlier hit, “Enter Sandman.” If you listen to them both you will hear the extreme similarities in the song; their was even a song on Load that had a very similar sound to Enter Sandman. Fuel has its moments on the radio and has a catchy main chorus, and a pounding ¾ way through section, but the overall song is not very good. For one, the vocals in Fuel are gay… “And I burn, Churning my direction, Quench my thirst with Gasoline” like what the hell does that mean? Metallica’s lyrics used to mean something, but now James has nothing left to sing about. Metallica wrote a classic song called, “The Unforgiven,” back on the Black album…now they try to be cool by writing a sequel called, The Unforgiven II, which of course is a pretty terrible song.
“Where the wild things are,” has good drumming and an “ok” main chorus, with some interesting guitar riffs, which make it a pretty good song. “Carpe Diem Baby” is a catchy song with some interesting timing, but the name is very lame. “Better then you” is another sweet song, which seems to roll along and flow very smoothly. The main chorus in “Better then you,” is sung very well, and the main riff is quite heavy. “Bad seed,” is another song that has heavy rhythm parts, and interesting lyrics.
The best song on the album by far is, “Devil’s Dance,” many people say this song is very un-generic of Metallica, and at times the sound is much different as the song starts out with a catchy bass solo, and the tempo is slower then usual. Following the bass intro, thundering heavy riffs come crashing in carrying a very memorable tune, the lyrics and vocals are very good, the drums are excellent as they keep time perfectly and have a great beat and greatly add to the greatness of this song. DD has a brilliant solo, and one thing I really like about the solo is the way there is a distorted guitar in the background… the rhythm, which comes thundering in several times. Overall this is an exceptional song, ranking in the top 10’s of my overall favorite Metallica songs (which is a very large list as almost all Metallica is brilliant).
I would say this album is better then “Load,” but a lot worse then, “The Black Album,” and a ton better then, “St Anger.” However Reload still lacks a spark and creativity that old Metallica albums had (except for DD, which I am sure is the last magnificent song Metallica will ever create). If you are a collector of Metallica, “Reload,” is worth buying, but it is not a very good album to start up on as it is quite different then original Metallica. And if you hated Load you are likely to hate this album too
Hope I have helped you.
Well, this disc is a bit of a stop gap. It's a bunch of tunes from the Load sessions and some new songs mixed together and released to capitalize on the bands considerable momentum. It's not bad or anything, nor is this exactly like Load, but in the constant evolution of the bands sound, this is a bit of a plateau.
The album isn't quite the warm state of mind Load was, a lot less heavy and perhaps a little more metallic riff-wise while still miles away from say, “Through the Never” or “Four Horsemen” (he says, picking names out of a Metallihat). Kirk is increasingly dependant on that heavily distorted wah wah guitar solo style that he's come to rely on like a crutch. Lars is as solid and predictable as ever, and Newsted still doesn't have much to say (dude, he wrote "Doomsday for the Deceiver"! Give 'im a say!), and James's experimentation with other music doesn't sound so much novel as rock star-y.
The band is locked in an endless mid-tempo groove, only "Attitude" and "Fuel" stepping out of it. Some of the lyrics are rather insipid, "Better Than You" for example. And unlike Load, it seems a few tracks to long. So, this looks like a terrible review right?
Wrong. I like Reload. It's easily the worst album they'd released yet (circa-1997), but who the fuck cares? The worst Tallica record steamrolls the best release from 90% of the bands out there. Reload is a record that excels in its moments. The chunky bass intro to "Devil's Dance", the "Memory Remains" breakdown, the "Sweet Leaf" homage that opens "Bad Seed"...granted, those are some of the worst tracks on the album but it goes to show that even a bad Metallica song has moments that can just grab you and make you fuckin’ glad they still make music. Err, well maybe not the guy who gave it zero, but irregardless...
The speedy tracks are a bit of a split in quality. "Fuel" is an adrenaline pumping near-thrasher, and probably would've been a certifiable speedster has Lars given in a thrashy beat. Alas. However, it is a very heavy song that is undeniably metallic, even if your definition of metal starts with Grand Belial's Key and extends through Nile to arrive at lighter stuff like Cryptopsy and Satyricon. It's not in that league of heavy, but it's metal quotient is just as high. James freewheel burns through it with manic intensity. Catchy solo, catchy riff, and a bah gawd back-up vocal showing from Jason, if you crank the volume and listen real hard. "Attitude" on the other hand is much like "Cure", a good riff wasted by puerile lyrics.
Our ballads are damn good. "The Unforgiven II" is yet more Metallicountry, but it remains one of their more popular 90's tunes. Nice poetic lyrics, good delivery, and a convincing twang, plus plenty of musical references to the original and utterly classic "The Unforgiven" boost this track up. "Lowman's Lyric" is a strange, strange folk song, that features some of James's best singing and a very catchy structure. I know most of em off by heart, and I find myself humming the tune a lot. Strange. "Where the Wild Things Are" reminds me of the earlier Metallica dirges, a stirring Newsted penned composition that slow-boils like nobodies business before exploding into a very metal riff and powerful refrain, sung by both Newsted and a multi-tracked Hetfield. It's doubtful this kind of multipart harmony could be reproduced live, which is a shame especially because this has both Hammett's best solo on the record and Lars's most military beats.
"Prince Charming" moves at a pretty good clip actually, James's delivery making up for the rather silly lyrics. Generic riff, but a good one nonetheless. "Slither" is a strange sorta "Enter Sandman" type vibe, same way "King Nothing" was on the last record, and shows us still more of Het playing around with distorted vocals, something he's been playing with since "The Wait" on the Garage EP. Special credit for one of my fav lyrics on the album:
"Don't look for snakes/You might find them/Don't turn your eyes to the sun/You might blind them/Haven't I seen you here before?/Have your heroes disappeared?"
I've left my two favourites to the end, both earthshaking epics in "Fixxxer" and "Carpe Diem Baby". "Fixxxer" is an immense construct, opening with a dissonant violin screeching away like a skipping record. Huge, loose chords slowly begin to crawl in from where they lurk off-screen and we swing into a chugging opener. Man, if they'd done this in 1988 or even 1990 imagine how tight and fucking metal it'd be. Instead, it's something just as interesting, a big loose classic, another gravity defying monster in a monstrous catalogue. The lyrics are both thematic like pre-Load Tallica and personal like that record, a two-fold piece that feels like a bridge between old and new. Unsurprisingly it's many an ex-fans favourite 90's era Metallica song. Brilliant, and one of the big absences on the S&M record.
"Carpe Diem Baby" is one of those album tracks that just jumps out at you like a facehugger in the Alien films. More mid-tempo crunch, but James's weary yet passionate delivery and the titanic riffs save the day. And holyyyy crap what a break. If you can't tell I'm air-guitaring pitifully. The break and solo just move like a rollercoaster or an avalanche, one of those grand old Metallica moments that raise an otherwise average song to the heavens the way "Struggle Within"'s famous break did for that song.
In summation, another difficult album that rewards much listening, re-listening, and study.
Stand-Outs: “Fixxer”, “Carpe Diem Baby”, “Where the Wild Things Are”
This CD is not as terrible as everyone says it is. The reason that so many people find it completly awful is that some look at this and say "Metallica?? Oh it must be a metal CD!", then they pick it up and are completly disappointed with is because it is hard rock. This, my friends, is called evolution. Some may not like it (such as me), and some may. I personally prefer their old days (Long live Puppets) and would love to see them return back to them (St.Anger was a start).
This album has it's good points, and it's bad points, like any other.
Good Points: Fuel is an excellent song with a nice chord progression and cool lyrics, The Memory Remains follows in the same steps and is just slower. Devil's Dance is great, with a funky bass line and sounds less like Metallica than they ever have. Low Man's Lyric, although it really gets bashed, I think is a cool song with an excellent chorus. The Unforgiven II, although not even close to it's predecessor, is still a pretty good song.
Bad Points: Fixxxer is pretty raunch, I don't think much of Attitude, Carpe Diem Baby or Bad Seed. Stay away from those tracks, they are mainly just filler junk on the album.
Overall, I know that I may be blasted for this review, but I think that Metallica didn't get worse at this point, they just took a step in a different direction.