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Metallica's most underrated album! - 88%

paulthemetalgod, November 15th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Elektra Records

Over the years many have viewed Load as Metallica's start to their so called downfall. Coming off the back of one, if not the biggest selling metal album ever made with their self titled album would never be an easy task, especially when many of Metallica's older fans already claimed they had lost their way when they stopped producing thrash when they teamed up with 80's pop-rock producer Bob Rock to produce said album. If Metallica fans were looking for a more thrash tinged album to compensate for their drop in pace then 'Load' was definitely the album they were fearing the most.

The majority of this 14 track album is as good as any album you will find. Fair enough, so 'Ain't My Bitch' is not quite the classic opening song that 'Fight Fire With Fire' or 'Battery' is and songs like '2X4' and 'Ronnie' may not have the intensity and speed of anything off their first 4 albums but what we have are songs full of heavy, ballsy riffs, melodies and quite a fair bit of experimenting especially on ''The House That Jack Built' with its voice box and vocal effects which give it quite the atmosphere. 'Until it Sleeps' is where a lot of people seemed to have a problem, not with the song itself (the song went on to be a live favourite throughout the 90's) but with the video in which the band is seen wearing make-up, another reason for the fans of the 'thrash' era to dislike the new Metallica style even more. 'King Nothing' is basically 'Enter Sandman' part 2, down to the little reference at the end but again another live favourite even to this day.

Halfway through the album is where things start to get a little bit messy. After the first of 2 epics, 'Bleeding Me' is where the songs start to lose their interest. songs like 'The Cure' and 'Poor Twisted Me' have some nice riffs but that about it, there's nothing too memorable about them and wouldn't be too missed if they were cut from the album altogether. 'Wasting My Hate' is one of the bands unsung greats, nothing too fancy just full of great riffs and attitude. Why they never play this one live often is a mystery to me. 'Mama Said' is another controversial song with the band experimenting with country music which doesn't really surprise me as Hetfield hasn't exactly been quiet about his love for country music. Of course all good things must come to an end and there's no better ending on a Metallica album than 'The Outlaw Torn,' a near 10 minute epic which is not just the best song on the album but one of Metallica's best songs ever written. As with all the songs on the album its worth mentioning how good the individual performances are on 'Load' especially from Lars Ulrich, who more often than not gets criticised for his almost out of time style of drumming which works wonders on this album. James Hetfield's voice is also one of his strongest and really shows his range from singing the more ballad like songs such as 'Hero of the day' to the more ballsy 'Ain't My Bitch' type songs.

In the grand scale of Metallica albums 'Load' has a lot more in common with its predecessor than any of their 'classic' 4 albums ever did so its not quite the giant leap which a lot of people claimed that it is. The production on this album is crisp and sharp, just as 'Metallica' before it was. Everything sounds crystal clear which for the most part is never a bad thing but at times it can come across as a 'safe' sounding album but this is just down to personal preference. 'Load' is a highly recommended album for any rock/metal fan out there, sure it has its unmemorable moments and at times it can seem like its dragging and at one second short of 79 minutes, its not an easy album to digest at first but with a few listens it has definitely become one of my favourite Metallica albums.

Be thankful that Metallica didn't continue writing the same old album over and over and that they had the balls to actually try something new and that the risk has paid off tenfold.