Re-Load Cover Art
 
Metallica: Re-Load
Elektra
1997
 
The Sound Of The Deadly Raptors
 

     On a recent cross-country flight, the $4 movie was the Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World. For some perverse reason, I decided to forgo the sound and just watch the flick as if it were an old silent movie. In retrospect, I wish I'd had a copy of Metallica's steel-toed Re-Load, because the often ominous, primordial hard rock that the band delivers throughout most of the album would have provided the perfect soundtrack for the stalking of humans by deadly Raptors.

Re-Load -- despite its title, which might make some think that these are the leftovers that didn't cut it the first time around, when the group settled on the Load song line-up -- is a hard rock masterpiece that includes tracks that will likely be considered classics in a few years. Take "Where the Wild Things Are," which has that nightmare dreamstate vibe that made "Enter Sandman" so compelling.  Or the offbeat first single, "The Memory Remains," with a "na na na na na" vocal from Marianne Faithfull that features a simple guitar riff boring through anything in its path, the rhythm section careening along like drunken soldiers looking to mess with someone.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what the hell most of these songs are actually about.  Frankly, I'm not sure I want to know. I mean when you're cranking "Bad Seed" so loud the car stereo speakers are distorting and the car feels like it's going to vibrate into pieces, the finer points that a screaming James Hetfield is making by way of the lyrics somehow seem beside the point.

When a lyric does rise above the rampage-like noise, it's something like "There's a black cloud overhead/ That's me." Bad trip? You bet.

I figure it like this. You got four guys, usually wearing black, usually glaring from their photos. You got molten guitar so nasty it threatens to incinerate your speakers and anything else in the vicinity.  You got drums so live and in your face that if you close your eyes, you'll swear Lars Ulrich is in the room with you. And you got Hetfield singing like he stomps on innocent children for kicks. You really need to know what "Devil's Dance" is about? Or "Slither"?

When Metallica aren't barreling along Dead Man's Curve in the rock equivalent of an old Chevy pick-up with the license plates obscured by skull and crossbones, scaring the living daylights out of ya on the album's denouement, the eight minute, fourteen second "Fixxxer," they take a couple of breathers and venture into ... country-rock and ballad territory. "The Unforgiven II" could be covered by Waylon Jennings (one of Hetfield's heroes), and "Low Man's Lyric" is one of those power ballads the guys will want to skip, but the girls will play over and over and over. Don't miss the pretty guitar courtesy of Kirk Hammett.

Consider those numbers "experiments," then dig into "Attitude," in which Hetfield notes that "I sleep at the wheel." And before I forget it, that epic "Fixxxer" takes another look at the classic we're-puppets-being- manipulated-by-some-puppet-master theme. "Jab another pin, jab another pin in me," screams Hetfield. Then, taking a time-honored the-rat-has- turned-rebel stance: "No more pins in me, no more, no more pins in me."

Metallica have stubbornly walked their own path since they released Kill 'Em All nearly a decade and a half ago. By now, you either love 'em, hate 'em, or don't think about 'em. But for those who have pledged allegiance to the black flag, for those who have tattooed the secret logo onto their forearms, who have slammed in the pit and have thrilled to Master of Puppets, ... And Justice For All, Metallica and the rest, Re-Load will not disappoint. And after all, really, how can ya resist an album that includes a lyric like "So wash your face away with dirt/ It don't feel good until it hurts."
Not I.

By Michael Goldberg
Editor-in-Chief of Addicted To Noise
 

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