Picks and Pans Review: Load
Supergroup makeovers seem to be the hard-rock trend these days. Def Leppard recently adjusted their outdated spandex-metal persona to fit the Lollapalooza '90s and produced the au courant Slang. Now the members of Metallica, having untangled and trimmed their shaggy coifs, successfully expand their stylistic palette. Hell, they even wallow in grunge.
Die-hard fans need not worry. Metallica hasn't morphed into Sound-garden—though several tracks creep close to that Seattle band's sludgy, supersonic assault. Taming the chainsaw riffs that made them multiplatinum speed-metal gods, Metallica boogie-woogies through "2 X 4" and gets all torchy and sentimental with the country-rock strains of "Mama Said." James Hetfield, who huffs and puffs through clenched teeth like a killer on a rampage, remains a strong and strangely compelling vocalist, but over the course of this 79-minute CD, his Big Bad Wolf growl grows tedious. So do musical tantrums like "Poor Twisted Me" and "Thorn Within." Why so angry, guys? With 1991's Metallica having sold 14 million copies and still on Billboard's album chart, it's time to lighten up. (Elektra)