Load (album)

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Metallica - Load cover.jpg
Studio album by Metallica
Released June 4, 1996
Recorded May 1, 1995 – February 1, 1996
Studio The Plant Studios in Sausalito, California
Length 78:59
Metallica chronology
Singles from Load
  1. "Until It Sleeps"
    Released: May 21, 1996[3]
  2. "Hero of the Day"
    Released: September 9, 1996[4]
  3. "Mama Said"
    Released: November 25, 1996[5]
  4. "King Nothing"
    Released: January 7, 1997[6]

Load is the sixth studio album by the American heavy metal band Metallica, released on June 4, 1996 by Elektra Records in the United States and by Vertigo Records internationally. The album showed more of a hard rock side of Metallica than the band's typical thrash metal style, which alienated much of the band's fanbase.[7][8][9] It also featured influences from genres such as Southern rock, blues rock, country rock[10] and alternative rock.[11] Drummer Lars Ulrich said about Load's more exploratory nature, "This album and what we're doing with it – that, to me, is what Metallica are all about: exploring different things. The minute you stop exploring, then just sit down and fucking die."[12]

Load debuted and spent four consecutive weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. Load sold 680,000 units in its first week, making it the biggest opening week for Metallica as well as the biggest debut of 1996.[13] It was certified 5× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipping five million copies in the United States. Four singles; "Until It Sleeps", "Hero of the Day", "Mama Said", and "King Nothing", were released as part of the marketing campaign for the album.


Load, released approximately five years after the commercially successful album Metallica, saw the band shifting toward hard rock and away from their thrash metal roots. As on previous releases, the album's fourteen songs began as rough demos created by principal songwriters James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich in Ulrich's basement recording studio, "The Dungeon"; in early 1995, the band took over thirty demos into The Plant Studios, where they would work for approximately one year. Metallica worked with producer Bob Rock, who had been at the helm during the recording process for Metallica.

The songwriting dispenses almost entirely with the thrash metal style that characterized the band's sound in the 1980s; in place of staccato riffs, Hetfield and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett experimented with blues rock-based tones and styles. Additionally, Ulrich adopted a minimalist approach to his drum recording, abandoning the speed and complex double bass drumming patterns of previous albums, and using simpler techniques and playing styles. Hetfield displayed a lyrical evolution, writing what many said were his most personal and introspective lyrics. "Until It Sleeps", the album's lead single, addressed his mother's unsuccessful battle with cancer, and "Mama Said" also explores his relationship with her. All of this marked a departure from the political and social overtones of ...And Justice for All and Master of Puppets.

At 78:59 minutes, Load is Metallica's longest studio album. Initial pressings of the album were affixed with stickers boasting of its long playtime, simply reading "78:59". "The Outlaw Torn" had to be shortened by about one minute to fit on the album; the full version of the track was released on the single "The Memory Remains" as "The Outlaw Torn (Unencumbered by Manufacturing Restrictions Version)", with a running time of 10:48. An explanation on the single's back cover stated:

When we were doing the final sequencing of the 'LOAD' album, the record company told us that we couldn't go a second past 78:59, or your CD's wouldn't play without potentially skipping, with our 14 songs, we were running about 30 seconds over, and something had to give, so the cool-ass jam at the end of 'Outlaw' got chopped.[14]

Load was Metallica's first album on which all tracks were down-tuned to E♭ tuning. Hammett states:

I started tuning to E-flat for my riff tapes because I copied a lot of the Hendrix stuff. You know I used to try to figure out Jimi Hendrix solos, Stevie Ray Vaughan solos, Thin Lizzy solos and those three bands tune to E-flat. And so a lot of my riffs were in E-flat, and I guess when James would hear the riffs tuned in E-flat and he'd try to sing to 'em, I think he kind of liked it, he liked the break it kind of gave his voice. He didn't have to pitch that extra half step. And that's also why on both Load and Reload the primary tuning is E-flat rather than E.[15]

The band had recorded songs on earlier albums in tunings lower than E; "The God That Failed" on Metallica which was in E♭, and the same album's "Sad but True" and "The Thing That Should Not Be" from Master of Puppets were in D tuning. The Australian CD release of Load includes a bonus interview CD that is unavailable elsewhere.[16] 10 songs from the album have been played live including "King Nothing", "Until It Sleeps", "Ain't My Bitch", "Bleeding Me", "Wasting My Hate", "Hero of the Day", "The Outlaw Torn", "2 X 4", "Poor Twisted Me", "Mama Said".[17] Songs that have not been played live in their entirety are "The House Jack Built", "Cure", "Thorn Within", and "Ronnie".[18]


The cover of Load is an original artwork titled "Semen and Blood III", it is one of three photographic studies that Andres Serrano created in 1990 by mingling bovine blood and his own semen between two sheets of Plexiglas.[19] The liner notes simply state "cover art by Andres Serrano" rather than listing the title of the work; in a 2009 interview with Classic Rock, Hetfield expressed his dislike of the album cover and its inspiration:

Lars and Kirk were very into abstract art, pretending they were gay. I think they knew it bugged me, it was a statement around all that. I love art, but not for the sake of shocking others. I think the cover of Load was just a piss-take around all that. I just went along with the make-up and all of this crazy, stupid crap that they felt they needed to do.[20]

In an interview, Hammett told the interviewer he saw the video for Godflesh's song "Crush My Soul", which Serrano had directed. Hammett thought that was the origin of the idea, though the band did not give any credit to Godflesh.[citation needed] Justin Broadrick, the frontman of Godflesh, said, "There's no copyright on Serrano. We'll be the first to admit that, but we planted the seed, and unfortunately we're not getting the credit, obviously".[citation needed] Hammett once gave Broadrick a custom Fender Stratocaster after his was stolen on a tour, and has commended the band by stating that they are the "heaviest band in existence".[citation needed]

Load also marked the first appearance of a new Metallica logo that rounded off the stabbing edges of the band's earlier logo, greatly simplifying its appearance. The M from the original logo was used to make a shuriken-like symbol known as the "ninja star", which was used as an alternate logo on this and future albums, and on related artwork, the album featured an expansive booklet containing photographs by Anton Corbijn, best known for his work with U2 and Depeche Mode.[citation needed] These photographs depict the band in various dress, including white A-shirts with suspenders, Cuban suits, and gothic; in the aforementioned 2009 interview, James Hetfield said:

Lars and Kirk drove on those records, the whole 'We need to reinvent ourselves' topic was up. Image is not an evil thing for me, but if the image is not you, then it doesn't make much sense. I think they were really after a U2 kind of vibe, Bono doing his alter ego. I couldn't get into it, the whole, 'Okay, now in this photoshoot we're going to be '70s glam rockers.' Like, what? I would say half – at least half – the pictures that were to be in the booklet, I yanked out. The whole cover thing, it went against what I was feeling.[20]

The booklet contained only selected lyrics from each song in contrast to Metallica's previous studio albums, which included complete song lyrics, the interior artwork revolved around images of inkblots, a theme that was also used on Reload and the covers of the singles released from the two albums.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[10]
Robert Christgau C+[21]
Drowned in Sound 9/10[22]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[23]
Entertainment Weekly B[11]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[24]
NME 7/10[25]
Q 4/5 stars[25]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[26]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[27]

Load received positive to mixed reviews by music critics. Rolling Stone said " ... with Load, the foursome dams the bombast and chugs half-speed ahead, settling into a wholly magnetizing groove that bridges old-school biker rock and the doomier side of post-grunge '90s rock".[28] Q said, "these boys set up their tents in the darkest place of all, in the naked horror of their own heads ... Metallica make existential metal and they've never needed the props ... Metallica are still awesome ... What is new is streamlined attack, the focus and, yes, the tunes".[citation needed]

Melody Maker had reservations about the heaviness compared to prior Metallica albums; it said, "A Metallica album is traditionally an exhausting event. It should rock you to exhaustion, leave you brutalised and drained, this one is no exception. It is, however, the first Metallica album to make me wonder at any point, 'What the fuck was that?' It's as if the jackboot grinding the human face were to take occasional breaks for a pedicure."[29] AllMusic considered Load to be an unsurprisingly repetitive, uninteresting, and poorly executed album.[10]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by James Hetfield.

No. Title Music Length
1. "Ain't My Bitch" James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich 5:04
2. "2 X 4" Hetfield, Ulrich, Kirk Hammett 5:28
3. "The House Jack Built" Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett 6:38
4. "Until It Sleeps" Hetfield, Ulrich 4:28
5. "King Nothing" Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett 5:29
6. "Hero of the Day" Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett 4:21
7. "Bleeding Me" Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett 8:18
8. "Cure" Hetfield, Ulrich 4:54
9. "Poor Twisted Me" Hetfield, Ulrich 4:00
10. "Wasting My Hate" Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett 3:57
11. "Mama Said" Hetfield, Ulrich 5:20
12. "Thorn Within" Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett 5:51
13. "Ronnie" Hetfield, Ulrich 5:17
14. "The Outlaw Torn" Hetfield, Ulrich 9:48
Total length: 78:59


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[30]




Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[31] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[31] 1
Belgian Albums Chart[31] 1
Danish Albums Chart[32] 1
Dutch Albums Chart[31] 1
Finnish Albums Chart[31] 1
French Albums Chart[31] 1
German Albums Chart[31] 1
New Zealand Albums Chart[31] 1
Norwegian Albums Chart[31] 1
Spanish Albums Chart[33] 2
Swedish Albums Chart[31] 1
Swiss Albums Chart[31] 1
UK Album Charts 1
US Billboard 200 1

Decade-end charts[edit]

Chart (1990–1999) Position
US Billboard 200[34] 81


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[35] Platinum 50,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[36] Gold 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[37] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[38] Platinum 94,384[38]
Germany (BVMI)[39] Platinum 500,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[40] Platinum 50,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[41] Platinum 100,000*
Sweden (GLF)[42] Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[43] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[44] 5× Platinum 5,000,000^
Uruguay (CUD)[45] Gold 3,000^
Europe (IFPI)[46] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Prown, Pete; Newquist, Harvey P. (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 226. ISBN 0-7935-4042-9. The band re-emerged with Load, a less metalish and more hard-rock album that downplayed the group's previous headbanging. 
  2. ^ Scott, Niall (2016). Heavy Metal, Gender and Sexuality: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Routledge. p. 18. ISBN 9781317122982. Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "Until it Sleeps". Metallica.com. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Hero of the Day". Metallica.com. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Mama Said". Metallica.com. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  6. ^ "King Nothing". Metallica.com. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  7. ^ Pete Prown, Harvey P. Newquist. Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. p. 226. 
  8. ^ "Metallica revives old sound, 'Death Magnetic' shows band's desire to reclaim its thrash metal throne". report. Ohio.com. 
  9. ^ Moore, Doug (October 14, 2013). "Metallica Albums From Worst To Best". Stereogum. Spinmedia. Retrieved August 23, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Metallica: Load". AllMusic. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Browne, David. "Metallica; Load". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  12. ^ Fricke, David (June 27, 1998). "Metallica: Pretty Hate Machine". Rolling Stone. 
  13. ^ Snow, Shauna (November 21, 1996). "Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press". Los Angeles Times. 
  14. ^ Metallica – The Outlaw Torn (lyrics in video) YouTube. Retrieved 19-Jan-2016.
  15. ^ https://metallica.com/blog/so-what-article/427029/20-years-of-blood-semen-haircuts
  16. ^ "Encyclopedia Metallica – Load, 2CD". Encycmet.com. Retrieved 2010-11-13. 
  17. ^ http://www.setlist.fm/stats/albums/metallica-3bd680c8.html
  18. ^ https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_music_news/these_are_the_only_15_songs_metallica_never_performed_live.html
  19. ^ "Semen & Blood II". Artnet.com. Retrieved 2010-11-13. 
  20. ^ a b METALLICA's JAMES HETFIELD Explains Why DAVE MUSTAINE 'Had To Go' blabbermouth.net (June 3, 2009). Retrieved 12–27–16.
  21. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Metallica: Load". Robert Christgau. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  22. ^ Lancaster, Nick. "Metallica: Load". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  23. ^ Larkin, Colin (2006). Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 5 (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 725. ISBN 0-19-531373-9. 
  24. ^ Masuo, Sandy (June 2, 1996). "Album Review: Metallica: Load". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  25. ^ a b "Metallica – Load CD Album". Q. CD Universe. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  26. ^ Fricke, David (December 4, 1996). "Metallica: Load". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  27. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. p. 538. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  28. ^ Fricke, David. "Rolling Stone". p. 85. 
  29. ^ . Melody Maker. June 8, 1996. p. 49.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ Load liner notes. Vertigo Records. 1996. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Metallica – Load" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Listen - Danmarks Officielle Hitliste - Udarbejdet af AIM Nielsen for IFPI Danmark - Uge 23". Ekstra Bladet (in Danish). Copenhagen. 1996-06-09. 
  33. ^ "Hits of the World - Spain". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 29 June 1996. p. 60. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  34. ^ Mayfield, Geoff (December 25, 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade – The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s. Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
  35. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Metallica in the field Interpret. Enter Load in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  36. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  37. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Metallica – Load". Music Canada. 
  38. ^ a b "Metallica" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. 
  39. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Metallica; 'Load')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  40. ^ "Norwegian album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. 
  41. ^ "Polish album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. 
  42. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  43. ^ "British album certifications – Metallica – Load". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Load in the search field and then press Enter.
  44. ^ "American album certifications – Metallica – Load". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  45. ^ "Priemos – 2000" (in Spanish). Cámara Uruguaya del Disco. 
  46. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 1996". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
The Score by Fugees
Billboard 200 number-one album
June 22, 1996 – July 19, 1996
Succeeded by
It Was Written by Nas
Preceded by
Older by George Michael
UK number one album
June 16, 1996 – June 22, 1996
Succeeded by
18 til I Die by Bryan Adams
Preceded by
Down on the Upside by Soundgarden
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
June 16, 1996 – June 29, 1996
Succeeded by
Hourly, Daily by You Am I