Load (album)

Last updated
Metallica - Load cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 4, 1996
RecordedMay 1, 1995 – February 1, 1996
Studio The Plant Studios in Sausalito, California
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] At 79 minutes, it is Metallica's longest studio album.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California, by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

Elektra Records American record label

Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group, founded in 1950 by Jac Holzman and Paul Rickolt. It played an important role in the development of contemporary folk music and rock music between the 1950s and 1970s. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived as an imprint of Atlantic in 2009. As of October 2018, Elektra was detached from the Atlantic Records umbrella and reorganized into Elektra Music Group, once again operating as an independently-managed frontline label of Warner Music.


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.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

In the United States, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) awards certification based on the number of albums and singles sold through retail and other ancillary markets. Other countries have similar awards. Certification is not automatic; for an award to be made, the record label must request certification. The audit is conducted against net shipments after returns, which includes albums sold directly to retailers and one-stops, direct-to-consumer sales and other outlets.

Recording Industry Association of America Trade organization representing the recording industry in the U.S.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.


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.

<i>Metallica</i> (album) 1991 studio album by Metallica

Metallica is the fifth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica. Released on August 12, 1991 by Elektra Records, it received widespread critical acclaim and became the band's best-selling album. Metallica produced five singles that are considered to be among the band's best-known songs, which include "Enter Sandman", "The Unforgiven", "Nothing Else Matters", "Wherever I May Roam", and "Sad but True". A sixth song, "Don't Tread on Me", was also issued to rock radio shortly after the album's release, but the song did not receive a commercial single release. The album marked a change in the band's sound from the thrash metal style of the previous four albums to a slower and heavier one rooted in heavy metal. Metallica promoted the album with a series of tours. In 2003, the album was ranked number 255 on Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time.

Hard rock is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music that began in the mid-1960s, with the garage, psychedelic and blues rock movements. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with keyboards.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

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 . Hammett, encouraged by producer Bob Rock, also played rhythm guitar on a Metallica album for the first time, having previously only played lead parts with Hetfield playing all the rhythm parts to achieve a tighter feel, in contrast to the looser feel they were looking for here. [14] Hammett continued playing rhythm until Death Magnetic when Hetfield once again played all the rhythm parts. [15]

Staccato is a form of musical articulation. In modern notation, it signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the note that may follow by silence. It has been described by theorists and has appeared in music since at least 1676.

Kirk Hammett American musician

Kirk Lee Hammett is an American musician who has been lead guitarist and a contributing songwriter for the heavy metal band Metallica since 1983. Before joining Metallica he formed and named the band Exodus. In 2003, Hammett was ranked 11th on Rolling Stone's list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 2009, Hammett was ranked number 15 in Joel McIver's book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists.

Blues rock is a fusion genre combining elements of blues and rock. It is mostly an electric ensemble-style music with instrumentation similar to electric blues and rock: electric guitar, electric bass guitar, and drums, sometimes with keyboards and harmonica. From its beginnings in the early- to mid-1960s, blues rock has gone through several stylistic shifts and along the way it inspired and influenced hard rock, Southern rock, and early heavy metal. Blues rock continues to be an influence in the 2010s, with performances and recordings by popular artists.

At 79 minutes, Load is Metallica's longest studio album. With the CD length at 78:59, 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:

The Memory Remains 1997 song by Metallica

"The Memory Remains" is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica, with British singer Marianne Faithfull on backing vocals.

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. [16]

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. [17]

Hetfield also felt that the change to E♭ was a bonus, as it was easier to perform string bends in the riffs. [14]

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. [18] 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". [19] Songs that have not been played live in their entirety are "The House Jack Built", "Cure", "Thorn Within", and "Ronnie". [20]


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. [21] 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. [22]

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. 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. [22]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [10]
Drowned in Sound 9/10 [23]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [24]
Entertainment Weekly B [11]
Los Angeles Times Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [25]
NME 7/10 [26]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [26]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [27]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [28]
The Village Voice C+ [29]

Load received positive to mixed reviews from critics. Rolling Stone said, "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." [30] Q enthused, "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 expressed reservations about Load's heaviness compared to its predecessors: "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." [31] AllMusic considered Load repetitive, uninteresting and poorly executed. [10] In The Village Voice , Robert Christgau said "this is just a metal record with less solo room, which is good because it concentrates their chops, and more singing, which isn't because they can't." [29]

"Some of that stuff was pretty cool," remarked Lars Ulrich of the album and its sequel. "With Load, it was disappointing that some people's reaction to the music was biased by how they dealt with the pictures – the hair and all that crap [see Artwork, above]. People have come up to me years afterwards and said, 'I never gave the record a fair chance because I couldn't get beyond Jason Newsted wearing eyeliner.' But 'The Outlaw Torn', some of that shit is pretty fucking awesome." [32]

Track listing

All lyrics written by James Hetfield.

1."Ain't My Bitch"
2."2 X 4"
3."The House Jack Built"
  • Ulrich
  • Hammett
  • Hetfield
4."Until It Sleeps"
  • Ulrich
  • Hetfield
5."King Nothing"
  • Hammett
  • Ulrich
  • Hetfield
6."Hero of the Day"
  • Hammett
  • Ulrich
  • Hetfield
7."Bleeding Me"
  • Ulrich
  • Hammett
  • Hetfield
  • Hetfield
  • Ulrich
9."Poor Twisted Me"
  • Hetfield
  • Ulrich
10."Wasting My Hate"
  • Hammett
  • Ulrich
  • Hetfield
11."Mama Said"
  • Ulrich
  • Hetfield
12."Thorn Within"
  • Hetfield
  • Ulrich
  • Hammett
  • Ulrich
  • Hetfield
14."The Outlaw Torn"
  • Hetfield
  • Ulrich
Total length:78:58


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes. [33]




Weekly charts

Chart (1996)Peak
Australian Albums Chart [34] 1
Austrian Albums Chart [34] 1
Belgian Albums Chart [34] 1
Danish Albums Chart [35] 1
Dutch Albums Chart [34] 1
Finnish Albums Chart [34] 1
French Albums Chart [34] 1
German Albums Chart [34] 1
New Zealand Albums Chart [34] 1
Norwegian Albums Chart [34] 1
Spanish Albums Chart [36] 2
Swedish Albums Chart [34] 1
Swiss Albums Chart [34] 1
UK Album Charts 1
US Billboard 200 1

Year-end charts

Chart (1996)Position
European Top 100 Albums ( Music & Media ) [37] 10
German Albums Chart [38] 6

Decade-end charts

Chart (1990–1999)Position
US Billboard 200 [39] 81


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RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria) [40] Platinum50,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil) [41] Gold100,000*
Canada (Music Canada) [42] 4× Platinum400,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat) [43] Platinum94,384 [43]
Germany (BVMI) [44] 5× Gold1,250,000^
Greece (IFPI Greece) [45] Gold31,000 [46]
Japan (RIAJ) [47] Platinum200,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ) [48] Platinum15,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway) [49] Platinum50,000*
Poland (ZPAV) [50] Platinum100,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE) [51] Platinum100,000^
Sweden (GLF) [52] Platinum40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [53] Platinum300,000^
United States (RIAA) [54] 5× Platinum5,000,000^
Uruguay (CUD) [55] Gold3,000^
Europe (IFPI) [56] 2× Platinum2,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

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  35. "Listen - Danmarks Officielle Hitliste - Udarbejdet af AIM Nielsen for IFPI Danmark - Uge 23". Ekstra Bladet (in Danish). Copenhagen. 1996-06-09.
  36. "Hits of the World - Spain". Billboard . Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 29 June 1996. p. 60. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
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  40. "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. 
  41. "Brazilian album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos.
  42. "Canadian album certifications – Metallica – Load". Music Canada.
  43. 1 2 "Metallica" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  44. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Metallica; 'Load')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie . Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  45. "Greek album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Greek). IFPI Greece.
  46. Develegas, Cosmas (24 May 1997). "Greek Acts Boast Local Market". Billboard. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  47. "Japanese album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan . Retrieved 30 May 2019.Select 1996年9月 on the drop-down menu
  48. "New Zealand album certifications – Metallica – Load". Recorded Music NZ . Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  49. "Norwegian album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway.
  50. "Polish album certifications – Metallica – Load" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry.
  51. Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (PDF) (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. p. 942. ISBN   84-8048-639-2 . Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  52. "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden.
  53. "British album certifications – Metallica – Load". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Load in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  54. "American album certifications – Metallica – Load". Recording Industry Association of America.If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  55. "Priemos – 2000" (in Spanish). Cámara Uruguaya del Disco. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  56. "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 1996". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry . Retrieved 30 May 2019.