20 Years Ago: @metallica Lock and ‘Reload’
In May 1995, Metallica entered The Plant Studios in Sausalito, Calif., to record a double album as the follow-up to 1991’s ‘Metallica’ (aka The Black Album), which catapulted the band from thrash heroes to mainstream rock stars. But by February 1996, Metallica had only finished about half the songs, so they scrapped the double-album plan and opted, instead, to release two records one year apart.
The first, ‘Load,’ came out June 4, 1996. Then in July 1997, Metallica returned to the studio to continue working on the 13 songs they didn’t finish the first time. On Nov. 18, 1997, they released the finished batch as ‘Reload.’ While the songs for Reload and Load were originally meant to be viewed under the same microscope, there are differences between the two albums. Load was brash and bluesy, but unapologetically straightforward. Reload, by contrast, was more experimental, blending biker metal, southern rock and unconventional arrangements into a bracing batch of songs that were familiar, but refreshingly adventurous. “Having lived with those songs for two years, the four of us came back with very different ideas of what they should evolve into,” James Hetfield said. “The good news was we still liked them, and we wanted to put them out. It’s important to point out that those songs weren’t the rejects from the first session and I think because of the extra time we had to put into them there’s a little more extremeness to them, which I like. It was a little more exciting for us to figure out more f---ed up chords, things that grind, dissonant bits, than songs that were just heavy. In a few of the songs there’s helter-skelter tension built in there. We really stretched the limits of what a guitar and amp could do, which was fun.” Like ‘Load,’ ‘Reload’ entered the Billboard album chart at No. 1, selling 436,000 in its first week. The album went double platinum on Dec. 12, 1997, and was certified triple platinum by the RIAA on Nov. 18, 1998.