Load/Reload - Metallica
Metallica in the late 90s and 2000s weren't simply a spent force, but were the band who'd sued their fans, then committed their group therapy sessions to celluloid in the documentary movie Some Kind Of Monster. But Metallica’s trouble began with 1996’s Load and its 1997 follow-up Reload, two albums that neatly portended the following decade's ill-advised excesses.
Load, at 79 minutes, is about the maximum duration a CD can be, and Reload wasn’t far behind. The band, who’d previously been lauded for their lack of pretension, hired Anton Corbijn, who’d previously made U2 look like steely serious artists for their Joshua Tree album cover, to design an inner sleeve spread with the band wearing Cuban suits and eyeliner. The covers featured pieces by transgressive artist Andres Serrano, who’s most known for Piss Christ, a photo of a small plastic crucifix submerged in his urine. The cover of Load was an image of Serrano’s semen mixed with cow’s blood and pressed between two sheets of plexiglass, while Reload featured Serrano’s urine mixed with cow’s blood.
Frontman James Hetfield later expressed regret over the Load, and Reload covers, blaming bandmates Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett, saying: “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 shit that they felt they needed to do.”
“Pretending to be gay just to annoy James Hetfield”? Forget the group therapy, I want to know more than that!