Monday, 14 March 2011

CD Review: Reload, by Metallica (1997)

One year after loading a blank, Metallica reload and return with a much better effort. Rediscovering no small amount of energy and muscle, the material on Reload arrives with a noticeably upgraded sense of purpose.

There are still mis-guided attempts at experimentation that stray into the territory of lost souls, including Where The Wild Things Are and Low Man's Lyric. But in large part, Reload contains Metallica's best post-thrash collection, and four of the 13 tracks are no less than outstanding.

Three of these classics are stacked into the first four songs on the album. Opening proceedings is Fuel, packing more danger and combustible aggression into one song that the entire embarrassing content of Load. The Memory Remains follows quickly, and in no time flat establishes itself as one of Metallica' most unique and creative tracks. Finding remarkable power in a slow-paced story of burnt-out glory, spiced with Marianne Faithfull's haunting guest vocals, The Memory Remains is a timely reminder not to underestimate Metallica's residual talent. This is further emphasized by The Unforgiven II, taking the original from Metallica and perfecting it with more elaborate instrumentation and more forceful delivery.  

Deep into the album Prince Charming arrives with a seductive, high-powered and unrelenting riff, Hetfield dripping menace on vocals while Hammett lets loose on the guitar. Carpe Diem Baby at over 6 minutes and closing track Fixxxer, at over 8 minutes, exude a similar languid but burly and robust vibe, Jason Newsted's bass finally receiving some time in the spotlight as the band sustains a satisfying if uncomplicated intensity for long durations on both tracks.

A shorter CD could have shaved off some of the lesser tracks with no loss in quality, but at least on Reload the less inspired songs are generally good. Not exactly a return to full-fledged glory, Reload is nevertheless a decent and welcome comeback effort.


James Hetfield - Guitars, Vocals
Lars Ulrich - Drums
Kirk Hammett - Guitars
Jason Newsted - Bass

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Fuel - 10
2. The Memory Remains - 10
3. Devil's Dance - 7
4. The Unforgiven II - 10
5. Better Than You - 7
6. Slither - 7
7. Carpe Diem Baby - 8
8. Bad Seed - 7
9. Where The Wild Things Are - 6
10. Prince Charming - 10
11. Low Man's Lyric - 6
12. Attitude - 7
13. Fixxxer - 8

Average: 7.92

Produced by Bob Rock with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.
Recorded by Randy Staub. Mixed by Randy Staub and Mike Fraser.
Mastered by George Marino.

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