A Review of a Forgotten Album: Metallica's 7th Studio Album "Re-Load"
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.
What Kind of An Album Is Re-Load?
Re-Load is not an album in which Metallica tried to recharge its musical batteries and pursue a different direction. They had already done just that with their self-titled black album in 1991. Re-Load continued the direction that the band had taken on the album Load.
Re-Load: a review of this 1997 album by one of the best bands ever
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.” 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 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.”
Re-Load: Songs 7-13 Including the Ballad Low Man's Lyric & Bad Seed
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"
Re-Load: the cons
- 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.”
Re-Load: the pros
- 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
What is the best song on the album Re-Load?
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. In terms of Metallica's weakest album, in 2017 I would say that it is a toss-up between Load and Re-Load. Many Metallica fans would be quick to point out that St. Anger should receive that distinction. If it was 2007 I would have said to that but not now in 2020.
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.
Even if Re-Load is Metallica's weakest moment musically, it does not diminish their greatness as a US heavy metal band.
"Where the Wild Things Are"
Final Thoughts About the Album Re-Load
Just because some people may not like Re-Load as an album does not mean that it is a bad album. It is different and I think that for the time that it was written, the band was at a different place in its existence. The best thing that you can do as a music listener is to do what James Hetfield says in the song Devil’s Dance and that is: take a chance and just listen to the album. Try to absorb it from a musical perspective. You might eventually like this album just like I was finally able to enjoy St. Anger.
© 2016 Ara Vahanian