"Reload" - "Load" twin brother was released on November 18, 1997. This is Metallica's seventh album !!
Let's start with a candid acknowledgment that might stir some feelings, but honesty is crucial. There's no denying that the "black album" marked a pivotal moment, whether you enjoyed it or not. Now, here's where we might draw a parallel, possibly even a comparison to Pearl Jam's "Vitalogy," where the magic or aura seemed to diminish. While subsequent albums, excluding "St. Anger," weren't necessarily bad, they didn't quite capture the same powerful Metallica magnet. Consequently, these later albums were perceived as less exhilarating or influential compared to the initial ones, despite the captivating renditions of songs from those albums in performances like "S&M" or live shows.
Before the release of "Load," Metallica initially planned a double album. They delved into songwriting, completed demos, and recorded just over half of the intended tracks. However, as the album's release date loomed, they decided not to exhaust themselves and opted to release the recorded songs as a separate album. Thus, "Load" hit the shelves in June 1996. Metallica embarked on a tour to promote the album, lasting a little over a year. Upon concluding the tour, they returned to work on the second part, the second album.
During the tour, Metallica generated numerous ideas for improving and adding different elements to the songs. However, when they entered the studio, they made a conscious decision to adhere to the authenticity of the original demos, resisting the urge to alter the songs. They were aware that there might be a perception that Reload included songs that didn't make the cut for Load, but they clarified that the split was not based on the quality of the songs but rather the band's schedule. Remarkably, within three months, Metallica completed the recording of the album, and just three weeks later, it was edited, mixed, and ready for release.
Comparing Load and Reload to the "black album," there's a noticeable shift in style, at least in our humble opinion. While Metallica was once the queen of thrash or speed metal in their early albums, the "black album" saw them crowned as the queen of heavy metal. However, with Load and Reload, they ventured into the territories of Southern Rock, perhaps even Country, and occasionally flirted with Hard Rock. If you were to play songs from the "Ride The Lightning" album and then tracks from Reload to a random listener, they might find it hard to believe it's the same band. It's like some of the DNA got lost along the way. Nevertheless, the album has its highlights, such as the explosive "Fuel," the nostalgic "Unforgiven II," and "The Memory Remains," which had a noteworthy version in "S&M." As you probably know, the band would eventually return to its roots with the album "Death Magnetic" about a decade later.
Indeed, it's worth noting that "Reload" marks the last album on which bassist Jason Newsted played with Metallica.
And regarding the album covers, they are certainly notable and controversial. The covers were created by the photographer and artist Andres Serrano, who also crafted the cover for "Load." The image on the "Load" album, titled "Blood and Sperm III," featured cow blood and human semen injected between two adjacent glasses. The cover for "Reload," named "Piss and Blood," consisted of blood and urine. The sources of these bodily fluids are undisclosed. It's interesting to note that while Kirk Hammett appreciated the artist and the concept, James Hetfield was not as enthusiastic, possibly not at all. The provocative nature of these covers added another layer of intrigue to the albums.