Load (album)

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Load
Studio album by Metallica
Released June 4, 1996
Recorded May 1, 1995 – February 1, 1996 at The Plant Studios, Sausalito, California
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 78:59
Label Elektra, Vertigo
Producer Bob Rock, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich
Metallica chronology
Metallica
(1991)
Load
(1996)
Reload
(1997)
Singles from Load
  1. "Until It Sleeps"
    Released: May 21, 1996[1]
  2. "Ain't My Bitch"
    Released: July 3, 1996
  3. "Hero of the Day"
    Released: September 9, 1996[2]
  4. "Mama Said"
    Released: November 25, 1996[3]
  5. "King Nothing"
    Released: January 7, 1997[4]
  6. "Bleeding Me"
    Released: March 11, 1997

Load is the sixth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica. Released on June 4, 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.[5] 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.[6] 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 heavy metal efforts, featuring a bluesier sound than the band's previous outings and country and western influences. 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[edit]

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, with the exception of collaboration album Lulu. 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.[7]

Album art[edit]

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.[8] 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 crap that they felt they needed to do."[9]

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."[9]

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.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[10]
Robert Christgau C+[11]
Drowned in Sound 9/10[12]
Entertainment Weekly B[13]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[14]
NME 7/10[15]
Q 4/5 stars[15]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[16]
Sputnikmusic 4/5 stars[17]

Despite the outcry of some fans, the album was positively reviewed by most critics. Rolling Stone gave it 4 Stars, saying that "...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." Q magazine also gave a positive review, saying that "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."

Despite giving the album an overall positive review, Melody Maker did have some reservations about its softness compared to prior Metallica albums: "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." On the other hand, the review of AllMusic was not so positive, and in general considered Load to be an unsurprisingly repetitive, watered down and unfocused album.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by James Hetfield

No. Title Music Length
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
8. "Cure"   Hetfield, Ulrich 4:54
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
13. "Ronnie"   Hetfield, Ulrich 5:17
14. "The Outlaw Torn"   Hetfield, Ulrich 9:48
Total length:
78:59

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Album[edit]

Year Chart Position
1996 Billboard 200 1
UK Album Charts
Australian ARIA Albums Chart
Finnish Albums Chart[18]

End of decade charts[edit]

Chart (1990–1999) Position
U.S. Billboard 200[19] 81

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
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

Certification[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[20] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[21] Platinum 94,384[21]
Germany (BVMI)[22] Platinum 500,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[23] Platinum 100,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[6] 5× Platinum 5,889,000[25]
Uruguay (CUD)[26] Gold 3,000x
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[27] 3× Platinum 3,000,000[28]

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date
Japan June 1, 1996
Worldwide (except North America) June 3, 1996
United States June 4, 1996

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Until it Sleeps". Release date. Metallica.com. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Hero of the Day". Release date. Metallica.com. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Mama Said". Release date. Metallica.com. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ "King Nothing". Release date. Metallica.com. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ a b "American album certifications – Metallica – Load". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  7. ^ "ENCYCLOPEDIA METALLICA - Load, 2CD". Encycmet.com. Retrieved 2010-11-13. 
  8. ^ "Semen & Blood II". Artnet.com. Retrieved 2010-11-13. 
  9. ^ a b 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.
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Metallica: Load". Review. AllMusic. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Metallica: Load". Review. Robert Christgau. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  12. ^ Lancaster, Nick. "Metallica: Load". Review. Drowned in Sound. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  13. ^ Browne, David. "Metallica; Load". Review. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  14. ^ Masuo, Sandy (June 2, 1996). "Album Review: Metallica: Load". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Metallica - Load CD Album". Q. CD Universe. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  16. ^ Fricke, David (December 4, 1996). "Metallica: Load". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  17. ^ Schroer, Brendan (March 11, 2013). "Metallica: Load". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  18. ^ Finnish Albums Chart - Search. Retrieved on 2009-07-08.
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Metallica – Load". Music Canada. 
  21. ^ a b The first web page presents the sales figures, the second presents the certification limits:
  22. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Metallica; 'Load')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  23. ^ "Polish album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Polish). Polish Producers of Audio and Video (ZPAV). 
  24. ^ "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
  25. ^ "Metallica's 'Black' Album Remains Top-Selling LP Of SoundScan Era". roadrunnerrecords.com. January 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  26. ^ "Priemos – 2000" (in Spanish). Cámara Uruguaya del Disco. 
  27. ^ NO certyear WAS PROVIDED for EUROPEAN CERTIFICATION.
  28. ^ name=http://www.ifpi.org/content/section_news/plat2013.html
Preceded by
The Score by Fugees
Billboard 200 number-one album
June 22, 1996 – July 19, 1996
Succeeded by
It Was Written by Nas
Preceded by
Older by George Michael
UK number one album
June 16, 1996 – June 22, 1996
Succeeded by
18 til I Die by Bryan Adams
Preceded by
Down on the Upside by Soundgarden
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
June 16, 1996 – June 29, 1996
Succeeded by
Hourly, Daily by You Am I