Load (1996) and ReLoad (1997) get a pretty bad rap when it comes to Metallica albums.
The most common reservation fans have toward the albums is that they saw the band move toward slower and quieter territory, something thrash purists have never agreed with. However, if one moves past the fact that Load and ReLoad aren’t thrash albums, then they open up a world of great musical moments.
These two notorious albums saw Metallica experimenting with different genres and sounds like they never had before and this is why it makes them so worthwhile. Metallica wouldn’t be themselves without the willingness they have to try new things and innovate. So in trying to reverse the bad reputation the two records have amassed, we show you ten songs that prove Load and ReLoad are worthwhile.
10. Prince Charming (ReLoad)
A major influence that can be heard across Load and ReLoad is the blues, and “Prince Charming” is a prime example. The track begins with a badass dirty riff reminiscent of blues-inspired Southern metal like Corrosion of Conformity. Vocalist, James Hetfield, sings of a very unsavoury character before gladly admitting that it is him. Soaked in bourbon and cigarette smoke, “Prince Charming” is one of the band’s funnest songs with its closing solo an absolute shredder.
9. Attitude (ReLoad)
“Attitude” is very similar in feel to “Prince Charming”. Once again beginning with some blues inspired licks, it then moves onto a nice chugging pace for the verses. Hetfield’s melodies are some of the catchiest on this song with the chorus one of their most anthemic. Guitarist, Kirk Hammett, shines on this track as well with tasteful use of his signature wah-wah sound. The solo sees the song breakdown before building up into a final energised chorus.
8. King Nothing (Load)
“Kings Nothing” begins with a building swirling sound before an ominous bass line comes in. A massive guitar builds and builds the suspense before a swaggering riff drops and we are left nodding our heads in agreement. Hetfield knowingly warns the listener of the perils of fame and greed before launching into a brutal building chorus. The breakdown shows how far Hetfield’s voice had come since the early days as he croons in the background. This track is tense and dark throughout, a trademark of the metal giants.
7. Hero Of The Day (Load)
“Hero Of The Day” is one of the quietest tracks Metallica has recorded. However, this should not cause it to be disregarded. The song shows some of Hetfield’s best recorded vocals with the verses containing smooth melodic lines we don’t see from the frontman too often. As the verse builds into the chorus Hetfield moves between soft and heavy with ease. Hammett’s solo, while not the fastest or the most complex we’ve seen from the guitarist, provides a beautiful melody to compliment the track.
6. Poor Twisted Me (Load)
Perhaps the bluesiest track across the two records, “Poor Twisted Me” contains a swing groove that sees the band relishing in. Hetfield and Hammett swagger across the beat with larger than life bluesy riffs and licks. Hetfield’s vocals sounds as if they've been run through a smaller speaker and this adds to the saunter of the track. Lars’ swung drums lead the guitars out and bring them back in while Hammett’s solo on this track could be his most blues-inspired.
5. Low Man's Lyric (ReLoad)
Another soft track of the thrash metal titans, “Low Man’s Lyric” channels the feel of Tom Waits. Hetfield shows off his vocal chops again as he laments about a drug addicted, homeless life. The clean guitar in the background resonates with tremolo and the hurdy-gurdy and strings help create an inescapable atmosphere. When the verse builds tension and leads you to expect a brutal chorus, the track softens again, releasing the tension with soft melody and longing. One of the band’s most experimental tracks, it is also one of their most rewarding.
4. Until It Sleeps (Load)
Another influence on Metallica when recording Load and ReLoad, whether it be consciously or not, was the “soft-loud” dynamics popularised by grunge. “Until It Sleeps” uses these “soft-loud” dynamics expertly. This track once again see Hetfield moving from his smooth croon to his signature growl with ease and this helps to create dynamics within the song. Faint strings in the background help give the track drama while the mix between clean and heavy guitars lead the listener on a journey.
3. The Outlaw Torn (Load)
The closing track on Load, and one of the band’s longest, “The Outlaw Torn” is an exhausting journey. The song builds with a wah-soaked guitar before launching into one of Metallica’s catchiest and most emotive riffs. The verses see the guitars take a back step while Jason Newsted’s bass keeps the groove going. Hetfield sings as if suffering and with an effected overdub in the background serving to create a signature eeriness. The breakdown takes the listener through an ocean of atmosphere before hitting them over the head with one of Hammett’s most brutal solos to date. “The Outlaw Torn”is Metallica at their best.
The closing track on ReLoad, “Fixxxer” provides the listener with one of the band’s most ominous introductions. Newsted’s groovy bass paired with Hammett’s bluesy, wah-fueled guitar licks eventually open up into one of Metallica’s most longing riffs. Hetfield provides some of his best imagery over suspenseful riffs and charging drums. The chorus is one of the band’s catchiest, albeit, emotional. After a massive solo from Hammett, “Fixxxer” settles down into a hypnotising breakdown that eventually builds back into the final chorus.
1. Bleeding Me
“Bleeding Me” is one of Metallica’s most hypnotising tracks. It starts with a clean riff that loops back on itself, creating a nice lull to the song. Hetfield voice is the smoothest it’s ever been in the verses, aided by dreamy chords played over the main riff. The chorus then brings in some trademark Metallica aggression with a huge guitar sound and Hetfield’s painful growl. “Bleeding Me” then moves back to the softness of the beginning and that is the beauty of the song. The way the band move between soft and heavy in this track is impeccable. Hammett offers one of his most melodic and well structured solos on this track as well. The song then moves down to where it started, fading out with the looping riff it began with.
What do you think? Did we miss anything? Let us know!
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