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Not A LOAD of Bull - 70%

Acz, March 26th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Blackened Recordings

This album is generally seen as the beginning of the end, for Metallica. An album which marked their more commercialized sound that would forever tarnish a pristine metal giants repetoire. However, despite its flaws I still believe the album holds up reasonably well and doesn't disgrace their catalog. The change of direction from their earlier albums may be unsettling however as Metallica added more melodic elements and slowed down (One) this more 'easy listening' album shouldn't have been a complete surprise. As a whole this is a fun album lacking some of the heart and punch of their earlier works but still an enjoyable listen.

First, I'd like to address the fact that this album doesn't hold up against Its predecessors in terms of heaviness. It just isn't as heavy. A lot of the gritty vibe, however, remains present. This is still Metallica and the raw aggression isn't gone, it just isn't as strong. This album takes a very different direction and while seeming more mainstream it is still leagues above more groovy sounding outfits (Disturbed or FFDP) that the mainstream considers metal. This is definitely not Metallica's brutalist album by far, but it isn't LuLu and the songwriting is leagues better than St. Anger.

The album opens strong with one of my favorite tracks off Load "Ain't My Bitch" you can feel the aggression here and it gets the album off to a solid start. Now sadly the album as a whole doesn't get much heavier than this track, yet this particular song still has some nice riffs. After this song it hits a more mediocre step with "2x4".

I really like the song "The House That Jack Built" but then again I also like George Thorogood and this track isn't a lot heavier than His "Bad to the Bone". Thats the thing with this album it honestly sounds like heavy blues rock more so than metal. "Mama Said" is another favorite but it isn't at all metal more an acoustic rock sounding song. It is a beautiful touching and most definitely emotional track about James Hetfield's relationship with his mother. You can't say this album has no soul when listening to this particular track.

Some songs like "King Nothing" & "Aint My Bitch" I believe are worthy of Metallica's metal track list and while not anywhere near their top tunes they are solid songs that would blow you away coming from another band. As for the worse tracks of the album "Hero of The Day" and the first half of "Bleeding Me" can be retired next to your Hootie and the Blowfish alt rock crap.

This isn't a bad album, far from it actually. It contains dozens of enjoyable strong songs that are fun to listen too. Ultimately, this isn't the sellout album it is generally accused of being. Rather this work represents a moving more towards a sound, I think, they wanted to hear. This, I think, can be seen in "Mama Said" which is only unusual because it is a Metallica song. Yeah, it isn't brutal but it definitely has a working class badass sound.

As good as I think the album is there are numerous detractors. Holistically this work suffers from a lack of heaviness and over all presence of what you think Metallica should be, metal. So for an album from a pioneer of thrash metal it doesn't live up at all. However, many of the songs have a catchy melodic sound with interesting lyrical content. It isn't necessarily amazing but its pretty darn good. They definitely tried some interesting choices on this album and spiced up their repertoire. While they don't go as out there as "Sweating Bullets" from Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction they manage to write interesting solid songs. If you want a Metallica album to destroy a punching bag too this shouldn't be considered. I would Try Kill Em All or Ride the Lighting. If you want a softer version of And Justice For All... to show your girlfriend than this would be great choice. Variety is the spice of life and this album has a ton of it showing Metallica's depth as a band. Finally, for veterans whose jaded ears can only stand pure thrash metal don't listen to it you won't like it, simple as that.