|Studio album by Metallica|
|Released||June 1, 1996|
|Recorded||May 1, 1995 – February 1, 1996 at The Plant Studios, Sausalito, California|
|Genre||Heavy metal, hard rock|
|Producer||Bob Rock, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich|
|Singles from Load|
Load is the sixth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica. Released on June 1, 1996 through Elektra Records, it sold 680,000 units in its first week (making it the biggest opening week for Metallica) and the biggest debut of 1996. Load debuted (and spent four consecutive weeks) at #1 on Billboard 200. The album has sold over five million copies in United States and is certified 5x platinum by the RIAA. Four singles were released in part of the marketing campaign of the album: "Until It Sleeps", "Hero of the Day", "Mama Said", and "King Nothing".
The album garnered backlash from a portion of the band's fan base because of a shift in tone from the group's previous efforts (Load features a bluesier sound than the band's previous outings). According to drummer Lars Ulrich: "This album and what we're doing with it – that, to me, is what Metallica are all about: exploring different things. The minute you stop exploring, then just sit down and fucking die."
Musical style 
Released approximately five years after the commercially successful Metallica, Load saw the band embrace a collective sound and identity closer to traditional heavy metal and different from their thrash metal roots. As on previous releases, the fourteen songs that would eventually make up the album began as rough demos created by principal songwriters James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich in Ulrich's basement recording studio, "The Dungeon". The band took over 30 demos into The Plant Studios in the spring of 1995 where they would work for approximately the next year. Once again, Metallica teamed up with producer Bob Rock, who had been at the helm during the recording process for Metallica.
The songwriting dispenses almost entirely with the thrash metal style that characterized the band's sound in the 1980s. In place of staccato riffs, Hetfield and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett experimented with more blues-based tones and styles. Additionally, Ulrich adopted a minimalist approach to his drum recording, abandoning the speed and complex double bass patterns of previous albums, and using simpler techniques and playing styles.
Hetfield displayed a lyrical evolution as well, writing what many feel to be his most personal and introspective lyrics. "Until It Sleeps", the album's lead single, addressed his mother's losing battle with cancer, and "Mama Said" also explores his relationship with her. All of this marked a departure from the political and social overtones of albums like ...And Justice for All and Master of Puppets.
At 78:59 minutes, Load is Metallica's longest studio album. Initial pressings of the album were affixed with stickers that boasted its long playtime, simply reading "78:59." Consequently, "The Outlaw Torn" had to be shortened by about one minute to fit on the album. The full version was released on the single for "The Memory Remains" as "The Outlaw Torn (Unencumbered by Manufacturing Restrictions Version)" with a running time of 10:48. An explanation was given on the single's back cover:
When we were doing the final sequencing of the 'LOAD' album, the record company told us that we couldn't go a second past 78:59, or your CD's wouldn't play without potentially skipping. With our 14 songs, we were running about 30 seconds over, and something had to give, so the cool-ass jam at the end of 'Outlaw' got chopped.
It was their first album for all tracks to be down tuned to E♭ tuning. Metallica had, however, a few songs in tunings lower than E on previous albums such as "The God That Failed" on Metallica which was in E♭ and D tuning for "Sad but True" (also from Metallica) and "The Thing That Should Not Be" from Master of Puppets. The Australian CD release of Load includes a bonus interview CD which is unavailable elsewhere.
Album art 
The cover of the album is original artwork entitled "Semen and Blood III". It is one of three photographic studies by Andres Serrano created in 1990 by mingling bovine blood and the artist's own semen between two sheets of Plexiglas. The liner notes simply state "Cover art by Andres Serrano" rather than listing the actual title of the work. In a 2009 interview with Classic Rock magazine, Hetfield expressed his dislike of the album cover and its inspiration:
- "Lars and Kirk were very into abstract art, pretending they were gay. I think they knew it bugged me. It was a statement around all that. I love art, but not for the sake of shocking others. I think the cover of Load was just a piss-take around all that. I just went along with the make-up and all of this crazy, stupid shit that they felt they needed to do."
The source used for the front cover of the album is taken from the music video of Godflesh's "Crush My Soul", which Serrano directed. In a later interview with Hammett, when asked where the band got the idea of the cover, he tells the interviewer that he saw the video on his television set and he thought that the video is how it came about, though the band did not give any credit to Godflesh. Justin Broadrick, the frontman of Godflesh, said, "There's no copyright on Serrano. We'll be the first to admit that. But we planted the seed, and unfortunately we're not getting the credit, obviously." Hammett once gave Broadrick a custom Fender Stratocaster after his was stolen on a tour, and has commended the band by stating that they are the "heaviest band in existence".
Load also marked the first appearance of a new Metallica logo, rounding off the stabbing edges of the first and last letters of the band's earlier 1980s logo, greatly simplifying its appearance. The M from the original logo was used to make a shuriken-like symbol known as the "ninja star" which was used as an alternate logo on this and future albums as well as other related artwork.
The album featured an expansive booklet which contained extensive photography by Anton Corbijn, best known for his work with U2 and Depeche Mode. These photos depicted the band in various dress including white A-shirts with suspenders, Cuban suits, and gothic. In the aforementioned 2009 interview, James Hetfield discussed his discomfort with the band's deliberate reinvention through fashion as seen in the Load booklet.
- "Lars and Kirk drove on those records. The whole 'We need to reinvent ourselves' topic was up. Image is not an evil thing for me, but if the image is not you, then it doesn't make much sense. I think they were really after a U2 kind of vibe, Bono doing his alter ego. I couldn't get into it. The whole, 'Okay, now in this photoshoot we're going to be '70s glam rockers.' Like, what? I would say half — at least half — the pictures that were to be in the booklet, I yanked out. The whole cover thing, it went against what I was feeling."
The booklet only contained select lyrics from each song in contrast to Metallica's previous studio albums which included complete song lyrics. Additionally, the interior artwork revolved around images of inkblots, a theme which would carry over to ReLoad and the covers for the singles released from the two albums.
|Drowned in Sound||9/10|
- Rolling Stone (7/11-25/1996, p. 85) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...with Load, the foursome dams the bombast and chugs half-speed ahead, settling into a wholly magnetizing groove that bridges old-school biker rock and the doomier side of post-grunge '90s rock."
- Entertainment Weekly (6/7/96, pp. 56–57) - "...captures the band's earnest pursuit of its Sisyphean mission: to create hard rock that reaches grown-ups and basement-dwelling teenagers." - Rating: B
- Q magazine (7/96, p. 119) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "These boys set up their tents in the darkest place of all, in the naked horror of their own heads....Metallica make existential metal and they've never needed the props....Metallica are still awesome....What is new is streamlined attack, the focus and, yes, the tunes."
- Melody Maker (6/8/96, p. 49) - "A Metallica album is traditionally an exhausting event. It should rock you to exhaustion, leave you brutalised and drained. This one is no exception. It is, however, the first Metallica album to make me wonder at any point, 'What the fuck was that?' It's as if the jackboot grinding the human face were to take occasional breaks for a pedicure."
- Musician (8/96, p. 85) - "The smoother, broader sound that distinguished...1991's Metallica is even more apparent here, as is the tendency to write accessible tunes....the exploration of new sounds does nothing but good for the guitar duo of [James] Hetfield and Kirk Hammett."
- New York Times (6/2/96, Sec.2, p. 28) - "On Load, Metallica has altered its music, learning new skills. Hetfield has committed himself to melodies, carrying tunes where he used to bark, and he no longer sounds sheepish when he sings quietly."
- NME (6/1/96, p. 44) - 7 (out of 10) - "...like triumphant warriors returning into a world changed beyond all recognition...Metallica emphatically prove they are still unsurpassed in their self-created genre of stadium nihilism."
Track listing 
All lyrics written by James Hetfield.
|1.||"Ain't My Bitch"||James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich||5:04|
|2.||"2 X 4"||Hetfield, Ulrich, Kirk Hammett||5:28|
|3.||"The House Jack Built"||Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett||6:38|
|4.||"Until It Sleeps"||Hetfield, Ulrich||4:28|
|5.||"King Nothing"||Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett||5:29|
|6.||"Hero of the Day"||Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett||4:21|
|7.||"Bleeding Me"||Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett||8:18|
|9.||"Poor Twisted Me"||Hetfield, Ulrich||4:00|
|10.||"Wasting My Hate"||Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett||3:57|
|11.||"Mama Said"||Hetfield, Ulrich||5:20|
|12.||"Thorn Within"||Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett||5:51|
|14.||"The Outlaw Torn"||Hetfield, Ulrich||9:48|
- James Hetfield – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar on "Mama Said", outro solo on "The Outlaw Torn", occasional lead guitar
- Lars Ulrich – drums
- Kirk Hammett – lead, rhythm and slide guitar
- Jason Newsted – bass guitar
- Bob Rock, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich – producers
- Brian Dobbs, Randy Staub – engineers
- Brian Dobbs, Jason Goldstein, Kent Matcke – assistant engineers
- Randy Staub, Mike Fraser – mixing
- Matt Curry, Mike Rew – mixing assistants
- George Marino – mastering
- Paul DeCarli – digital editing
- Mike Gillies, Chris Vrenna – digital editing assistants
- Chris Vrenna – programming
- Andie Airfix – design
- Andres Serrano – cover design
- Anton Corbijn – photography
Chart performance 
|UK Album Charts|
|Australian ARIA Albums Chart|
|Finnish Albums Chart|
End of decade charts 
|U.S. Billboard 200||81|
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2011)|
|1996||"Ain't My Bitch"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||15|
|"Hero of the Day"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||1|
|UK Singles Chart||17|
|The Billboard Hot 100||60|
|"Until It Sleeps"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||1|
|Modern Rock Tracks||27|
|The Billboard Hot 100||10|
|UK Singles Chart||5|
|"Mama Said"||ARIA Singles Chart||24|
|1997||"Ain't My Bitch"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||40|
|"Bleeding Me"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||6|
|"Hero of the Day"||Canadian Singles Chart||17|
|"King Nothing"||Canadian Singles Chart||14|
|Mainstream Rock Tracks||6|
|The Billboard Hot 100||90|
|Canada (Music Canada)||4× Platinum||400,000^|
|Finland (Musiikkituottajat)||3× Platinum||64,384|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||60,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||5× Platinum||5,049,000|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
Release history 
|Japan||June 1, 1996|
|Worldwide (except North America)||June 3, 1996|
|United States||June 4, 1996|
- King Nothing
- Snow, Shauna (November 21, 1996). "Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press". Los Angeles Times.
- "American album certifications – Metallica – Load". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
- "ENCYCLOPEDIA METALLICA - Load, 2CD". Encycmet.com. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
- "Semen & Blood II". Artnet.com. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
- Metallica's James Hetfield Said He Was Very Uncomfortable With The Band' Image For "Load" EddieTrunk.com (June 3, 2009). Retrieved on 3-05-10.
- [dead link]
- Load - Metallica | AllMusic
- Lancaster, Nick (2003-07-18). "Metallica - Load". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
- Browne, David (1996-06-07). "Load Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
- CD Universe
- Robert Christgau: CG: metallica
- Load | Album Reviews | Rolling Stone
- Scaruffi, Piero (1999). "Metallica". pieroscaruffi.com. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
- Finnish Albums Chart - Search. Retrieved on 2009-07-08.
- Geoff Mayfield (December 25, 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade - The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s. Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
- "Canadian album certifications – Metallica – Load". Music Canada.
- "Finnish album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Metallica; 'Load')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
- "British album certifications – Metallica – Load". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Load in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
- "Metallica's 'Black' Album Remains Top-Selling LP Of SoundScan Era". roadrunnerrecords.com. January 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
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