Metallica delivered yet another album back in 1997. Load had not gone down well, and although it was not outright bad, it was not impressive. The original idea was to release Load and ReLoad as a double album, but that idea was shelved. So, along came ReLoad which is seen as the second half of these releases, and not as good as Load. Let’s see how it sounds regardless.
First off is Fuel which is a loud and energetic piece that is wonderfully delivered. It has James Hetfield singing about his sort of attitude to life, comparing himself to the concept of fuel itself. This is definitely one of the better pieces from the Load/ReLoad era, and the group does surprisingly well here. There are many wah-wah guitar parts from Kirk Hammett here, all in all, a great listen. Some chugging guitars in the midsection are done extremely well here, and a furious sounding guitar solo comes along to surprise you. A great piece from this era, and definitely underrated.
Next is The Memory Remains which is a decent, but somewhat lacking piece about memories of the past. It does have some good lyrics in parts, “Heavy rings hold cigarettes, up to lips that time forgets, while the Hollywood sun sets behind your back”. It also features an unusual appearance by Marianne Faithful here, which probably isn’t very necessary. The piece here does have some great singing by James Hetfield though, and although this song is overly indulgent musically, it is okay. But not great.
Devil’s Dance comes next, with its drop tuned bass guitar intro, and guitar riffs that follow. It’s fairly ordinary sounding, and although is supposed to be very catchy, it feels like it is merely an exercise in what Metallica were doing at the time. The chorus makes up for the rest of the song, concluding with “Let’s dance.” It is a good, but not great, song which seems more like a sonic texture emphasis rather than quality music. But hey, this is not the worst of Metallica. It is decent, but not as good as the older stuff. Probably a bit too long as well.
The Unforgiven II is one of the better pieces from this era, and is the sequel to the original The Unforgiven. A good quality song to start with, with some unusual slide guitar to match. The lyrics here are really great though, and the chorus in particular is very emotional and uplifting. Unlike the original, James Hetfield seems to discuss lyrically some personal demons that exist in his life, whereas the original was more thematic. A good listen that once again, is somewhat short of being a great one. By the guitar solo, you wish that Metallica would just end the song. It’s far too long and not really that good as a piece of music that drags on.
Next is Better Than You which begins with some electronic sounds, before going into a shuffle like beat that leads into more heavy riffs. It’s an ordinary piece, and just doesn’t seem that good. It’s lacking in good musicality and inspired thinking. Sadly, most of this album is fairly meh by this point. The guitar soloing by Kirk Hammett is rather impressive, though. It is not the Metallica of old, and although James Hetfield sings well on this album, it is neither memorable or necessary to hear this song. Some interesting wah-wah sound effects are here, but aside from that, this song is largely forgettable. Disappointing.
Following is Slither which is actually rather ordinary, borderline awful. The lyrics don’t make any sense at all, and rather than following a decent song structure, this sounds largely uninspired. It’s good, but just not great. Also, these songs should have been heavily edited. Singing about snakes (why?) and other strange things, this has not aged terribly well. This one is worth skipping, and is just not as good as the earlier Metallica stuff. Poptallica was here and very much an inferior Metallica to listen to. You’ll be glad when this song is over.
Carpe Diem Baby is a Latin phrase meaning “Seize the day,” with some okay riffs to begin with, but the lyrics are pretty meh. It is an improvement on the previous track, and seemed like a messed up mission statement from James Hetfield. But you have to remember that this album is largely uninspired and suffers as a result. In retrospect, songs like these come across as Metallica merely putting out music just for the sake of it. The midsection is very good, however. The whole thing is pretty long, and could have been easily edited to improve it. Somewhat catchy guitar is here, otherwise worth avoiding. The lyrics are ordinary and laughable, and surely Metallica must cringe today on this era of music that they made.
Bad Seed comes next, and is a heavy, drop tuned piece that is semi-catchy and once again, is somewhat musically lacking. The lyrics here are completely random and sounds like an oddity on this album. There is some good drumming by Lars Ulrich here, but all the same, sounds largely forgettable and like a throwaway tune in retrospect. Still, it is not nearly as bad as anything on St. Anger, so that is somewhat redeeming today. Fortunately, not as long as some other songs on this album.
The next song is a real joke and is called Where The Wild Things Are. It’s actually about a children’s book at the time that was popular. Some good minimal marching drum fills are here, but aside from that, is a complete oddity in the history of Metallica and no doubt has many Metallica fans ask themselves, “What the hell?” Some strange lyrics about the book itself and toy soldiers going off to war are here. It’s a genuine self-parody of what Metallica were in the past, and it is highly doubtful that their original bassist Cliff Burton would have approved of this song, amongst other songs around this time. The midsection is interesting, but aside from that, avoid. Understandably, these guys probably had kids but still, this is more miss than hit for sure. Disappointing.
Following is Prince Charming which is somewhat better but still a joke of a song from Metallica. The riffs and energy here are seemingly addictive though. The lyrics once again, are interesting, “Hey ma, look it’s me!” The song is one of the better songs on the second half of this album, but if anything, is still relatively forgettable. If Metallica thought that they were delivering a classic album here, they were obviously mistaken. Still, the energy on this song is pretty good, even if the song itself is not that good. It would have been better for Metallica to not deliver this album at this time, and refine the efforts from Load and ReLoad into one proper album. But bad luck had hit Metallica. Still, a good, if lengthy, listen.
Low Man’s Lyric is a rather depressing sounding tune with a Wurlitzer keyboard in it. It’s supposed to be the ballad of this tune, but unfortunately, falls flat. James Hetfield pleads to be forgiven by someone, but overall, this piece is lacking, once again. It’s a bit of a break from the louder, riff heavy songs that had existed earlier on in the album. Sounding somewhat naff in the midsection, it is a song somewhat redeemed by its variety. It’s difficult to know what Metallica were thinking here. The outro is way too long as well, with the keyboard becoming incredibly annoying.
Attitude is actually an improvement on songs that came before, a sign that not all was lost. It’s still pretty trashy in retrospect, but that can be forgiven here. It is very much rampant egotism here musically, but is a good song. Once again, it could have easily been edited or modified to make it a better song. The guitar solo is decent as well. A loud and energetic song, but not a great one. Pretty lengthy, however.
Last is the forgettable and long Fixxxer which honestly, isn’t worth your time. Kirk Hammett goes into Jimi Hendrix copycat mode at the beginning of this track, and the rest of the band follow in time. It is a loud and energetic piece that lacks in substance. Talking about voodoo dolls and such, this is one naff sort of tune. Sadly, we end ReLoad feeling dissatisfied and ripped off here. Some extra long guitar solos will bore you to death throughout this incredibly long song.
This is one to avoid. Even Load had its moments of glory more so than this album, and that was a failure. This album is far worse than that earlier Metallica release. It is really hard to know what Metallica were thinking here, and this only continued the downward spiral that resulted in St. Anger. Save yourself some time, check out Metallica’s pre Load releases, just not these ones.