"The Black Album", it was fully realized in the middle of the 90's with the release of the double trouble known as "Load" and "Re-Load", a duo of records that today are seen as the two outliers of Metallica's discography, not even considered as metal records. It is a strange duo that we will now dive deep into, so let us start with the first of the twins.
So knowing how incredibly successful "The Black Album" was, Metallica probably knew that it was going to be hard to follow it up, so they opted for going all in, write a ton of songs, and put them all in two albums, a tactic that is really risky, because it is so easy to go for quantity over quality, and unfortunately, that is exactly what happened here. With a play time of 79 minutes, "Load" is the band's longest album to date (yes, even longer than "Hardwired..."), and it is very much notable, being very tough to get through in one sitting, not because it feels long, but because the setlist is filled with fluff.
With a total of 14 songs, "load" is simply just loaded (hehe), mostly with blanks though. This album is filled with songs that simply does not feel like Metallica songs. At times, you wonder if the group wrote this songs, or if they stole them from Guns 'n' Roses and slapped a Metallica sticker on top of it. Most of this album consists of hard rock and country rock, with only "King Nothing" having some type of metal element to it, and most of these songs are mediocre at best, confusing at worst.
Now, just because the band completely changed sound direction, it does not automatically have to be a bad thing, and I could have certainly enjoyed this experiment if the song quality was up to par. "Load" certainly has some neat tracks, like the possible "The Black Album" outcast "The House Jack Built" where the band creates a nice mood and uses Peter Frampton's guitar effects to some good use. Then we have "Bleeding Me", a mellow tune that sits just right in your ear. Finally, the two most stand out singles "King Nothing" and "Until It Sleeps" are a nice double header at the end of the first half.
But as previously stated, there are just too many fillers in here for one to muster through. There is not any song that makes me mad, or any song where the performance or song writing is embarrassing. It is just a bland mess of songs that does not really give you any reasons to be mad. I was kind of annoyed that James Hetfield had a couple of spots where he did not seem fully focused (Adoobalee adoobalee!), and "2 x 4" just baffled me in every sense of the word, but otherwise "Load" left me quite indifferent, or at least kind of bored.
So even if the album cover looks like the inside of a lava lamp, it does describe the album quite well actually, it is a gooey mess that one probably could stare (or in this case, listen) for hours and do not get anything significant from it. "Load" is definitely not a good album, it is way too long, does not have enough stand out tracks, and the experimentation is far from bulletproof. However, I do not think "Load" is a bad record more than it is a forgettable one. Close to nothing in here is memorable, and since nothing makes you mad either, I just suggest that we just let it slide by and do not care too much for it. Onto its brother it is.
Songs worthy of recognition: Bleeding Me, Until It Sleeps, King Nothing
Rating: 4,5/10 Cures
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