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A Review of a Forgotten Album: Metallica's 7th Studio Album "Re-Load"

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.


The album "Re-Load" should be given more praise instead of more criticism

In the history of heavy metal, there are albums that are largely forgotten or not given as much credit. One of these albums is Metallica’s Re-Load. Released in 1997, it is sort of like the continuation of the mid 1990’s Metallica as they are expressing their anger and angst in their music. Many die-hard Metallica fans may never like this album and the reasons are understandable even for this music fan. But sometimes, you have to change direction for a while as a band and that’s what Metallica did. What is presented on the band’s 7th full-length release is a decent set of songs plus a very nice ballad song. I felt the need to review the album as it will be 20 years in 2017 since the album’s release. And the album may still get much criticism for being too trendy, or too soft. Whatever the criticism may be for the album, those that truly give it a chance will find some redeeming qualities about the album.

A Review and Analysis of the First Six Songs Including "Slither"

Right at the beginning is the heavy and sort of fast song Fuel. The song is about having the desire and thirst for getting what you desire in your life. These following words in the song have made the song very famous to this day: “gimme fuel gimme fire, gimme that which I desire.”

Well, if Metallica lasted 16 years to the point of the release of Re-load it is really clear that they absolutely intended to keep on going as a band past the 1980s. What is meant by this sentence is that by 1997 Metallica had been active for 16 years and that’s quite a feat considering that many bands don’t even last 10 years.

"Devil’s Dance" starts with a bass line played by Jason Newsted before getting into a nice mid-tempo kind of song. And continuing in the tradition of songs with the title “unforgiven,” the band wrote “The Unforgiven 2.” It is a decent song but it kind of lacks the punch that is needed to make it an excellent semi-ballad. What comes next is one of the weakest songs in the band’s history called Better than You. They try to make it sound like a blues rock kind of song as there are some weird distorted chants of “better than you.” And then comes the excellent track Slither which has always been one of my favorites from the album for its catchy grooves. After a sort of introduction by vocalist, guitarist, and band co-founder James Hetfield, we are treated to song that is a satirical attempt to describe snakes (at least that’s the impression that I got from the song). The two most common lines in the song are “don’t go looking for snakes you might find them, don’t send your eyes to the sun you might blind them.”

Analysis of the Songs In the Second Half of "Re-Load"

As the second half of the album begins, the listener is treated to a whole set of solid songs such as "Carpe Diem Baby," the sort of fast hard rock song Bad Seed and the very good ballad song "Low Man’s Lyric." Carpe Diem Baby is actually an attempt by the band in a funny way to show that we should all just try to do whatever we can to take advantage of whatever days we have. The blues style rock song Bad Seed is once again Metallica’s attempt at humor as they try to point out the effects of chewing on a bad seed.

We did not even address the ballad song on the album called Low Man’s Lyric. Some of you may think that this sounds like some cheesy soft song but nothing could be further from the truth. Even if the lyrics sometimes don’t make sense such as when there is the part that Hetfield says “the trash fire is warm,” the song is still rather enjoyable and James shows that he can sing. "Where the Wild Things Are" has a beautiful atmospheric beginning to it and some of you may think this is funny but some people are able to find beauty in musical parts that other people cannot.

The song called "Slither"

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The Weak Points

  • The Memory Remains and Better than You are two of the weakest songs in the band’s history.
  • Not as good guitar solos as their earlier albums particularly ...And Justice for All.
  • The Unforgiven 2 sounds a little bland as a semi-ballad and lacks that extra “punch.”

"Where the Wild Things Are"

The Strengths

  • Still has very good songs for being a Metallica album that is not of the thrash metal style. These include Devil’s Dance, Slither, Carpe Diem Baby, Bad Seed, Where the Wild Things Are, and Low Man’s Lyric.
  • Still decent guitar solos
  • Metallica still shows that they can write ballads and do it pretty well.
  • A good experimental album (way better than albums such as Cryptic Writings and Risk).
  • Shows that Metallica do not suffer from being a one-dimensional band (doing the same style over and over).

Best song on the album Re-Load

"Bad Seed"

How Good of an Album is "Re-Load?"

Overall, Re-Load is another attempt at experimentation for these guys and although there are a few weak songs, the album is still pretty good. I would give Re-Load a total of 75 out of 100 points. It does not get an 80 or higher because there are too many weaker songs to justify that kind of a score. The weakest songs are the mentioned The Memory Remains, Better Than You, and The Unforgiven 2. In spite of these weaknesses, Re-load should be a decent listen for some fans of heavy metal.

In November 2022, this album turns 25 and it is remarkable that almost 25 years have passed since the release of what I would call another controversial album in Metallica’s long career. An open minded fan of the genre will see that this album isn’t even half as bad as some may think. The second half of the album starting from the song Slither all the way to the end of the last song “Fixxer” is pretty solid. Re-Load is more of a hard or heavy rock type of album with a ballad song so there is some variety. In this album, Kirk Hammett shows his blues guitar playing skill.

The other quality that I have overlooked is that at least the guitar sound on “The Unforgiven 2” is redeemable and James Hetfield’s voice is perfect for the song. The beginning of it with that sound that sounds like a siren is just like “The Unforgiven.”

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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