Our look at the studio albums of Metallica continue with the the second part of our Boxset: Metallica series.
5 years would pass before Metallica released their next album. Much expectation was placed on the band with Load being the result. The hair was cut and makeup was applied as Metallica transformed from the Metal Gods they had become to…something else. ‘Ain’t My Bitch’ rips the album open with a rage filled blues metal bastard that suggests that nothing much has changed. ‘2×4’ and ‘The House that Jack Built’ dispel that myth. The latter track is an unsettling gem of a song that highlights how much the band have changed in the years they’ve been out the studio.
If anyone doubted the band’s metal credentials, they had a good case with ‘Hero of the Day’. Despite a chorus that gallops along on a thunderous riff, overall the song has a very warm MOR feeling to it. It’s also one of their strongest tracks they’ve ever recorded.
‘Wasting my Hate’ picks things up again while ‘Mama Said’ is a country song. Yes, that’s accurate. The gargantuan ‘The Outlaw Torn’ is a modern western, which is fitting as cowboys seem to be the stylistic theme of the album. Get past the fact that it’s Metallica and Load proves is a rewarding album.
Add To Playlist: The House that Jack Built, Hero of the Day, The Outlaw Torn.
During the recordings of Load, the band had written enough material for two albums. So why not release the rest of the songs recorded? Well, maybe because much of it is poor. The main problem with Reload is the tracks just aren’t good enough. It starts off strongly with the roaring ‘Fuel’ and the haunting ‘Memory Remains’ which suggests that this may be the heavier counterpart of the country tinted Load. In a way it is, it’s just not as good as its predecessor. ‘The Unforgiven II’ is a heavier rehash of ‘The Unforgiven’ which doesn’t lose any of its emotional punch.
‘Carpe Diem Baby’ is a sleaze filled groove and closer ‘Fixxxer’ is a haunting tale of abandonment and one of my favourite tracks by the band. Overall though, there’s just too much filler and despite the strength of the standout tracks, it’s easily the poorest Metallica album…to date.
Add To Playlist: Fuel, Memory Remains, Fixxxer.
After losing Newsted and Hetfield overcoming his demons, what treat would St. Anger bring to the table? Not many unfortunately. The baffling decision to omit any solos along with Lars’s tin pan drum sound were weaknesses that the album found hard to recover from.
‘Frantic’ and ‘St.Anger’ were a blistering return to form in terms of metal brutality however the absence of lead solos shone through making the songs sound bloated and empty. ‘Shoot me Again’, which dealt with Lars’ Napster backlash, is a great song but only prompted as much controversy as his file sharing crusade for the awful drum sound. ‘The Unnamed Feeling’ is commercially dark while the rest of the album gets lost in the mix.
No ballads, no solos and no direction. Despite being a fan upon release it hasn’t aged well. It may have been the album Metallica needed to make, but it wasn’t the one their fans felt they deserved.
Add To Playlist: St. Anger, Shoot me Again, The Unnamed Feeling.
More years would pass with only rumours of a new album before Death Magnetic was eventually announced. Live shows teased us with a new song here and there and the results were promising.
The solos were back. Metallica made their first producer change in 17 years as Rick Rubin replaced Bob Rock. It seemed like a dream match on paper, but could it live up to the hype? The pulsating heartbeat that starts the album is a reminder that the band is back and very much alive.
Opener ‘That was Just your Life’ has a slow burning intro reminiscent of album openers from the 80’s. Fast, heavy and brutally honest. This is the album those ‘real’ Metallica fans have waited for since …and Justice for All. This isn’t an album of nostalgia though. Despite a return to metal form, it’s refreshing for a genre that can get stale all too easily. ‘The Day that Never Comes’ is a modern-day ‘One’, combining elements of beautifully melodies with skull crunching guitars.
‘All Nightmare Long’ is the albums most commercial track yet it doesn’t let up while ‘The Unforgiven III’ welcomes back the ballad. What is also most welcome it the return of the instrumental. ‘Suicide and Redemption’ clocks in at just under 10 minutes of full metal mayhem. A long deserved return to form? Well that depends on when you thought they lost their way.
Regardless, it’ll be a hard album to follow and with 5 years already past, that new album is long overdue. And no, Lulu doesn’t count.
Add To Playlist: Broken Beat and Scarred, The Day that Never Comes, Suicide and Redemption.
Did you miss Part 1 of our look into Metallica’s back catalogue? You can read it here.