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Trimming the Fat: Metallica’s Load & ReLoad

 

Quite some time ago I took a look at Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion albums, took the best tracks and laid out what I thought one single album should’ve looked like (never mind there is a UYI compilation… mine is better). Well, I’m here to do that again.

The subject? Metallica. The albums? Load and ReLoad.

The original plan was for Load to be a double album but with some songs coming along slower than others, this idea was scrapped. The 14-track Load was released in June 1996 while the band continued to work on the remaining songs and released them as ReLoad (13-tracks and essentially “Disc 2” of Load) in November 1997.

Both albums are completely filled with, er, um… filler. Too many tracks, too many long tracks. Load is nearly 79 minutes. ReLoad is 76 minutes. Both albums are WAY TOO LONG.

I know it’s fashionable online to bash anything and everything this band has done since 1991 (even 1988 if you’re particularly grouchy) but mid/late ’90s Metallica wasn’t too bad. Were they card carrying members of the Metal Militia anymore? Absolutely not but that doesn’t mean they weren’t able to spit out a few good hard rock numbers… even if those songs did have a southern rock and/or alternative vibe. Corrosion of Conformity, anyone? What is too bad is that Metallica thought they were onto something so special that they felt they needed 2 albums, 27 tracks and 2.5 hours to tell their tale.

I give you the “Metal Excess Cut”:

Loaded: The Very Best of Load & ReLoad

Fuel
Ain’t My Bitch
King Nothing
Devil’s Dance
The Unforgiven II
Bleeding Me
Slither
The Memory Remains
Hero of the Day
Until It Sleeps
Fixxxer

Of course I profess no great skill when it comes to sequencing the tracks, so you mileage may vary, but I will not budge on “Fixxxer” being the closer.

So there you have it. I think these 11 tracks are really the only ones worth listening to from Load & ReLoad and with a running time of a little over 60 minutes, it may still be a tad lengthy but certainly better than nearly 80 minutes!

Buy ‘Load’ at Amazon.com

Buy ‘ReLoad’ at Amazon.com

AMERICAN HI-FI – American Hi-Fi

American Hi-Fi – American Hi-Fi (2001, Island Records)

1. “Surround” … 3:11
2. “Flavor of the Weak” … 3:08
3. “A Bigger Mood” … 3:38
4. “Safer on the Outside” … 4:01
5. “I’m a Fool” … 4:00
6. “Hi-Fi Killer” … 3:05
7. “Blue Day” … 3:33
8. “My Only Enemy” … 3:27
9. “Don’t Wait for the Sun” … 3:50
10. “Another Perfect Day” … 3:38
11. “Scar” … 4:03
12. “What About Today” … 3:34
13. “Wall of Sound” … 5:48

Band:
Stacy Jones – Vocals, Guitar
Jamie Arentzen – Guitar
Drew Parsons – Bass
Brian Nolan – Drums

Produced by: Bob Rock

Another album from 2001 that really worked for me during a time of hudge drama. American Hi-Fi are a blend of alternative, power pop and pop punk (which was an extremely popular genre in the early 00s). I’ve never really cared for pop punk, but I was heavily into modern day power pop at the time with bands like Tsar, 40 Ft. Ringo, Lit, Zebrahead, Weezer and of course, one my favorite bands of all time Marvelous 3. American Hi-Fi came along went a sound that was slick and not too slick. The album has more of an alternative rock edge than the previously mentioned bands’ work and it’s not quite as cheery and carefree.

I spent a lot of time sitting on the bed with my headphones on, using a DISCMAN,  in my friend’s house in Virginia (where I stayed while going to college for a semester) listening to the melancholy/aggressive songs like “Safer on the Outside”, “My Only Enemy” (which, with a little more sprucing up, could be a NIN song) and “Don’t Wait for the Sun”. I got a lot of poetry done being inspired by the music and the word of Stacy Jones.

“Flavor of the Weak” hit #5 on Billboard’s Modern Rock charts, but it’s a shame the album wasn’t more successful, it’s definitely a worthwhile rock/pop entry for the early 2000s.

The band has been in limbo for a few years after The Art of Losing (2003) and Hearts on Parade (2005, and produced by Butch Walker!) were commercial failures. Supposedly, a new album, which was initially planned for 2008, is still on the horizon. In the meantime, Jones has gone on to produce a number of albums and is the “music director” for Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus and is also her touring drummer.

Highlights: “Flavor of the Weak”, “A Bigger Mood”, “Safer on the Outside”, “My Only Enemy”, “”Don’t Wait for the Sun”, “Another Perfect Day”, “Wall of Sound”

www.americanhi-fi.com
www.myspace.com/americanhifi

METALLICA – Reload

Metallica – Reload (1997, Elektra Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Fuel” – 4:29
2. “The Memory Remains” – 4:39
3. “Devil’s Dance” – 5:18
4. “The Unforgiven II” – 6:36
5. “Better Than You” – 5:21
6. “Slither” – 5:13
7. “Carpe Diem Baby” – 6:12
8. “Bad Seed” – 4:05
9. “Where the Wild Things Are” – 6:52
10. “Prince Charming” – 6:04
11. “Low Man’s Lyric” – 7:36
12. “Attitude” – 5:16
13. “Fixxxer” – 8:15

Band:
James Hetfield – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Kirk Hammet – Lead Guitar
Jason Newsted – Bass
Lars Ulrich – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Bernardo Bigalli – Violin (“Low Man’s Lyric”)
Marianne Faithfull – Backing vocals (“The Memory Remains”)
Jim McGillveray – Percussion
David Miles – Hurdy gurdy (“Low Man’s Lyric”)

Produced by: Bob Rock, James Hetfield, and Lars Ulrich

Is it Reload or ReLoad? Many places list it as one or the other. I call it Reload. Anyway, I’m not one of those Metallica fans who claims to hate Metallica. How does that even make sense? Sure, this album and its predecessor, Load (and the Black Album for that matter), are huge departures from their original thrash sound, but so what? If you took Load and Reload and trimmed the fat from both, you’d have a really good album, even if it’s not Master of Puppets 2: Electric Boogaloo.

That said, there’s just way too much filler here for my ears. The songs are too slow and long and all the great intensity and energy “Fuel” opened the album with is totally lost by the end of the album. Where Metallica used to come charging full force on their 80s classics, they just kinda ploddingly stomp around on Reload.

Highlights: “Fuel”, “The Memory Remains”, “Devil’s Dance”, “The Unforgiven II”, “Slither”, “Fixxxer”

www.metallica.com
www.myspace.com/metallica

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