Monday, August 5, 2019

Album Review: Load by Metallica

Today I will be reviewing Metallica's Load, which came out in 1996- two years before I was born. If someone asked me to describe Load, the first thing I would say is that it's one of those hard rock albums Metallica made during their "Metal doesn't sell" phase. When I listen to Metallica's discography on shuffle, songs from Load are the most likely to get skipped. On this blog I really want to stress the point that music is more than just the stuff you listen to, but a part of me thinks that Load might actually be a better album without all the backstory. For example, I liked the album art a lot more before I learned that it was called Blood and Semen III. Similarly, I think it's possible that I might like Load better if there was a name other than Metallica on the cover. It's not that Load is bad, it's just that it really doesn't cut it when compared to, say, Master of Puppets.

Backstory aside, I do quite like listening to Load from time to time. I bought it on Amazon during my first year of college, with money from my job at the campus bookstore. "The House that Jack Built" is my standout favorite track, with honorable mentions to "Mama Said", "Until it Sleeps", "2x4", and "Hero of the Day". For a long time, "Hero of the Day" was one actually one of my favorite songs, and it appears on my very first Spotify playlist, which I made in fall 2017. I'm a sucker for when songs can pull off the slow build, and "Hero of the Day" does it quite well. When the heavy guitars finally come in at the bridge, I really feel it.

Load is a hard rock album, and it absolutely gets heavy at times. But songs like "Mama Said" and "Hero of the Day", while absolutely out of place in a Heavy Metal™ playlist, offer a breath of fresh air that metal doesn't usually provide. And then there are songs like "Cure" and "Poor Twisted Me", which sound like they're trying way too hard to sound cool but just wind up sounding obnoxious. There's no way I would have ever listened to Load if I hadn't fallen in love with Metallica, and that is just a fact. I wouldn't have made it past the first track if I didn't have to hear every album my favorite band ever made. I only own this album because the collector in me absolutely had to complete my Metallica CD collection, duds and all (well, maybe not Lulu). So on one hand, maybe this CD was a waste of five bucks. But on the other hand, "Hero of the Day" is amazing, and if a poorly conceived album with a cover showing a mixture of gross bodily fluids is what it took to make that one song happen, maybe it's a little bit worth it. I can't stress enough how much I loved "Hero of the Day" during my freshman year of college.

In my last review, I identified Goodbye Lullaby as an album that I love despite its un-coolness. I think Load is the exact opposite- I love it because it was made by Metallica, and I love everything Metallica. Load isn't a very good album, in my opinion. Most of the songs aren't quite my cup of tea, and there's something that just sounds off about it all, like the production and the band weren't quite on the same page. Something just isn't right to my ears, and it's hard to enjoy the good parts when something always feels off. It really makes me wonder how good some of these songs could be if they were rerecorded, possibly by a different band. I'm sure I'll also mention this when I review ReLoad, but I think Load and ReLoad really should have been one album, and at least half of the songs from each of them should have been cut.

I give Load two stars out of five, and my favorite track currently is "The House that Jack Built", but of course "Hero of the Day" will always have a special place in my heart.


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