122 of 142 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2007
LOAD, it appears, is the true litmus test of Metallica's career. This is the album where it was tremendously popular with a lot of the grunge listeners, dominated the charts in 1996, and had heavy radio rotation. LOAD brought in a lot of new fans for Metallica (this reviewer included), but is still highly controversial as it abandoned much of Metallica's earlier trademark sound from the 1980s, and a lot of people stopped caring about the boys after this one. But this album is not without precedent in the Metallica canon.
The BLACK ALBUM, LOAD's predecessor from 1991, is often seen as the true turning point in Metallica's career. Taking their progressive metal and incredibly complex songwriting (to the point it was difficult to replicate the music on stage) to its breaking point or zenith on the masterpiece ... AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, Metallica pared back their sound, and ultimately became more commercial sounding. MTV picked up on the BLACK ALBUM's songs, and featured them in heavy rotation. While the BLACK ALBUM disappointed some of the band's fan base, without a doubt the album helped move the band into the mainstream of rock, and ultimately greatly added to Metallica's fanbase.
While some of Metallica's long time fans were somewhat uneasy with this subtle change in the band's musical direction, by the time 1996 came around the unease metamorphosed into full-blown hostility. And it's all due to this album.
LOAD completely changed Metallica's sound, and, for a lot of long time fans, for the worst. Gone are the pyrotechnic solos, complex songwriting, and thrash metal mentality that carried their first four albums into the annals of rock and roll legend. The band cut their hair, started writing songs more like alternative rock, and reached out to a new fan base. LOAD's songs got heavy radio rotation (something that did not happen with their earlier albums), and they had several singles that charted quite high. Still, a lot of Metallica's fans were not only disappointed but just flat-out angry with the band and quit following them after this record.
And why? That's a good question. I grew up with grunge, and love the early 1990s sound. When LOAD came out in 1996, I knew I had to get that. It was the first Metallica album I ever bought (though my brother had the BLACK ALBUM which I listened too frequently). Those two were the first Metallica records I ever listened too
Listening to it, and without knowledge of their earlier albums, I never could understand why people hated it as much as they did. The songs are great, and while the album is a little on the long side (79 minutes). [ In fact, for the longest time whenever anyone asked me to name a Metallica song the first one I would name "Until It Sleeps"]. In fact, "Until It Sleeps" was for a long time the one song I always thought of when I thought of Metallica. For me, it was their definitive song (though this has changed since then). Without the context of their career, and responding to the music itself, I loved the music and thought it had a lot of their best material. I still think so.
Having since gone thru the rest of their albums, I now understand why people have such a hard time with this record. While it's a great mid 1990s record, sounding very much of the grunge era, I understand now how much of a departure from their previous work it really is. Their tempos have always been fast and furious, thrash all the way. And now they release LOAD, and it's all this bluesy alternative metal sounding crap, and they cut their hair, and oh my God aren't they the sellouts?
Well, Jason Newsted said it best when he did admit Metallica did sell out. They sell out every seat for every concert on their tours. They rock the house. And that's what counts.
While LOAD may not appeal to a lot of Metallica's fanbase, for this listener it's got some of my favorite songs from the 1990s. The album plays like a greatest hits list of 1996, the songs were that big and that popular. And fortunately, this is the "popular=bad" equation most people think of. It has the epics ("Bleeding Me," "Outlaw Torn"), the radio staples ("Until It Sleeps," "King Nothing," "Hero of the Day"), an almost country sounding (!!) song ("Mama Said), and just some flat out great rock songs (though not necessarily great metal).
Being part of the new fan base the album helped bring it, I shook my head at the Metallica purists who hated it. Now, going thru the other records, now I understand the purists' frustration at Metallica for such a radical departure that this record represents. It really is Metallica doing alternative. And for those who love thrash and speed metal, to have one of the best metal bands ever turning away from that avenue can be discouraging.
Metallica has such a successfully realised metal sound, and their four 1980s albums are all fantastic. Those records are masterpieces. LOAD, and its sequel, are not the masterpieces the early albums are. But that doesn't mean they bad. Far from it. To be fair, it's hard to do a follow up to an album like MASTER OF PUPPETS, one of the definitive metal records of the 1980s. Though LOAD and RELOAD are not as good as the four, there's not very many records that are that good, they set such high standards.
In the ensuing years since its release, my esteem for the album has very slightly lessened, but this has more to do with their success on their earlier records than anything critical about this one. While their earlier work are unequivocal masterpieces, the LOAD era is a different animal altogether, and Metallica were trying to find a new sonic identity. They still feeling their way into the new artistic direciton.
While the purists may be right their earlier work is better, it does not change the fact LOAD is one of the best hard-rock albums of the 1990s, and is still probably my sentimental favorite, if not my critically favorite anymore, of all of Metallica's albums.
Ain't My Bitch: #15
Hero of the Day: #1
Until It Sleeps: #1
Mama Said: #24
Bleeding Me: #6
King Nothing: #6
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 1998
Those that buy this CD and instantly return it when they don't hear another "Enter Sandman" or "One" should question whether they ever were fans to begin with. Load was six years after the Black album, and it is unreasonable to expect no changes to a band's music over such a period of time. Those avid fans of "Justice" that frown on "Load" should compare their favorite album to "Bay Area Thrashers" and "Kill 'Em All." The differences in style over time are evident. Metallica has not "sold out." That's a pejorative explanation for those who need some sort of conspiracy theory to explain why Metallica would do this vicious thing to their fans by not writing fourteen of the same songs they've already written. "Load" doesn't sound like anything Metallica has done before, but does that make it bad, just because it wasn't what you were expecting? (In fact, the one song that is like the previous albums, "King Nothing," is among the worst on the album because it is unoriginal and uninspired.) Once you notice what the songs are like, instead of what they're not like, you realize they are memorable, original, and full of the same guitar wizardry that put Metallica on the map. I say, if they're writing the kind of music that they want to write, that's the exact *opposite* of "selling out."
58 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 1999
Let us start from the beginning. The question is not whether or not Metallica "sold out" because they changed their music style. The issue in a review like this is if the album was good or if it , instead, sucked royally.
To give an album one star means it sucked royally. While "Load" may not have met the expectations of some, it was at least a decent album. No, it was not thrash or speed metal. Like its previous effort, "Metallica" (commonly known as the "Black" album) "Load" had a more rock oriented sound to it. (No, it was not an alternative album, if anything "Load" at least represents a good hard rock album.)
Load did not suck royally. So, in my opinion, it deserves three stars. It did not meet the same level as an album like "Black," which would be a four or five.
As for earlier albums, this album is different. Understandably people buying this album expecting to see Metallica's thrash-metal roots (see "Master or Puppets" or "Ride the Lightning") clearly are disappointed. The reason for such disappointed is well founded.... "Load" is not a thrash metal album. It is, instead, a clear progression from earlier albums. Go ahead, listen to them in order and see if you can't expect an album like "Black" or later "Load."
Face it. James Hetfield and company aren't angry 18 year olds. If they were, they would be pumping out more albums like "Kill `Em All." And, no doubt, we'd be sick of them and complaining that all they can do is create copies of the same thing. Let Metallica evolve. Give them a bit of slack, and see where things take them. If you don't like where things are when, god forbid, Metallica is no more, then you can complain about where they ended up. But right now, they are still a work-in-progress (like any band still playing), so let's just see where evolution takes them.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2005
What I have noticed in every Metallica album since Load all the way up to St. Anger is that ALL of them are pretty decent albums. But, all of them take a lot of listening to appreciate. I have all the albums and my favorite one by FAR is Master of Puppets, NO questions asked. So when I first listened to Load I hated it. The only good songs at first were Ain't my Bitch, Until it Sleeps, King Nothing and Cure. I HATED Hero of the Day at first but, slowly but surely the song grew on me. Some of the other songs like 2 x 4, Poor Twisted Me, and Thorn Within didn't really appeal to me at first. So when I first bought the album and listened to it, I discarded it for the longest time. Finally I was bored so I decided to listen to the album again just to see what I would think, and I still didnt like it. Finally after listening to it a third time, SOME of the songs mentioned above I started to nod my head to. Then listening to it a fourth time I actually started to really enjoy the album. Now I LOVE it! My point that all the newer Metallica albums like Load, Reload, Garage Inc. (1st album anyways) and St. Anger (S and M doesnt count), they all take a good 4 or 5 listens before you like it. They are easy to discard after the first listen, but you really need to give them a chance, and give it a good 4 or 5 listens and by then, if you still dont like it, sell it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2005
I was VERY apprehensive about load to begin with. It was the last studio album that I bought, after having acquired all the earlier 80's MEtallica, and the Black album. THe reason? All the negative press from many of the people that loved 80s Metallica; mainly hardcore bogans.. The advice was usually 'don't buy it, its crap'. But when I inquired as to why it was crap, most people couldn't give me much of an answer. 'Its too mainstream' 'not heavy enough' 'sell out' was about as profound as the reasons came. Anyway I had faith in Metallica back then (before St Anger), so I bought Load because it couldn't possibly be 'that bad'.
My instincts proved me correct. There's no reason that I can see to justify viewing load as 'absolute crap' or anything close to that. On the contrary, it has lots of good songs on it. I don't want to be one of those fence sitters who says 'its just different' without accepting that something can be 'different and yet still bad'. Yet this is perhaps the best way to describe this album. Load isn't like older Metallica. It has a lot in common with the Black Album in style, with some more progressive elements and stylistic changes. (eg Mama Said - all acoustic 'country esque' tune)
THere's a lot to like on this CD for the open minded fan. Aint My Bitch, House that Jack Built, Until it Sleeps, Hero of the Day, Outlaw Torn, Thorn Within, to name a few. I'm not really that keen on 2x4 but hey its not bad. THere's nothing on this album that pains me to listen to it, unlike the HORRIBLE St Anger. My personal favourite is the beautiful 'Bleeding Me'.
So whats all the negative press about? I'm not going to justify my view by saying 'bands evolve - this is an evolution so its good.' Evolution can be a BAD thing if the music suffers. St Anger was an 'evolution' again (or more of a devolution) but it was absolute TOSH. Just because Metallica changed again didn't make the album not rubbish. WHats the difference then, between their change to that, and their change from the more complex, 80's style Metal into the style we hear on load? THe answer is simple - on Load, Metallica still demonstrate good songwriting
Ask yourself this - what do you want from Metallica? If you're only interested in really complex instrumentation, then load may not deliver for you. Go and buy music that caters for that; Steve Vai/Victor Wootton etc. Lars has downsized his drumkit and has dispensed with lots of pretty/extravagent tom fills in favour of keeping a tighter grip on things. But there's still a lot of creative drum work, its just more subtle. Listen to all the variations with the kick pedal/splash in Outlaw Torn and you'll see what I mean.
Load wasn't meant to emulate 80's Metallica, this much is clear. The band was evidently comfortable with what they'd done prior to load and wanted to keep themselves interested in music. They'd shown what they could do, technically speaking, they probably just wanted to write songs and try and stay relevant in the different climate of the mid 90's.
Load isn't Master of Puppets, and it never pretends to be. It doesn't try to be technically complex. That being said, Metallica really does deliver on this album as far as music is concerned. The boys still deliver some great songs that are easy to like. Again - this is why Load is good and St Anger isn't. Load was an evolution, but Metallica still produced good music and good songs. You'll still see some great songwriting on Load. St Anger was also an evolution, but Metallica decided to attempt to appease all the 'I dont like it if its not heavy' crowd, and so dispense with melody/rhythm and good songwriting in favour of white noise and tin can drumming.
I know what I'd rather listen to....
So overall, be open minded. Don't expect another Master of Puppets/And Justice for All. Expect an album full of great songs that you enjoy listening to. Don't expect heaviness for heaviness' sake (*Cough* St Anger) - expect to hear good music, and you may just find that you love this album.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2005
Delivered five years after their eponymous "black" album in 1991, Load captures Metallica settling into an uneasy period of maturation. Under the guidance of producer Bob Rock, Metallica have streamlined their sound, cutting away most of the twisting, unpredictable time signatures and the mind-numbingly fast riffs. What's left is polished - and disappointingly straightforward - heavy metal. Metallica's attempts at expanding their sonic palette have made them seem more conventional than they ever have before. They add in Southern boogie rock, country-rock, and power ballads to their bag of tricks, which make them sound like '70s arena rock holdovers. Metallica's idea of opening up their sound is to concentrate on relentless mid-tempo boogie - over half the album is dedicated to songs that are meant to groove, but they simply don't swing. Metallica sound tight, but with the material they've written, they should sound loose. That becomes apparent as the songs drag out over the album's nearly 80-minute running time - there are only so many times that a band can work the same tempo exactly the same way before it becomes tedious. It isn't surprising to hear Metallica get stodgier and more conservative as they get older, but it is nonetheless depressing.
37 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2000
This is the album Metallica would have made in 1993 if Cliff was still alive. Sacrilege comes the cry from the bemulleted crowd at the back, but did all you so-called Metallica fans know that Cliff was as much into blues and Mozart as Black Sabbath and Slayer? The prog rock in Metallica is now gone, in the respect that 3 minute, 30 scale solos are now gone. The blues and Black Sabbath are surfacing. How many of you complained about War Pigs having a harmonica? How many of you complained when the boys in Sepultura and Pantera cut their hair? You all just wanted an excuse to hate Metallica. And yet they still swept the rug away from under your feet by releasing this, their most profound and diverse work yet. Hetfield has never sounded better, and the lyrics to Outlaw Torn and Bleeding Me are the finest he has ever written. Yes, they aren't as heavy, nor angry as they were. Maybe when you get older you too will recognise the balls it took to release this. They knew they were going to lose a lot of fans with this. What is all this talk of selling out? They knew that if they released an album like before, it would sell well. They took a huge risk in releasing this, as it could have ended up that they would be too light for the elitists, and too heavy for the mainstream. Why all the criticism of Mama Said? No-one so much as blinked when Pantera did Suicide Note part 1, or when Sepultura did Jasco or Kaiowas. Metallica are starting to explore the areas that they couldn't go before, and in so doing they have made some great music which deserves to be listened to and judged, rather than hated just because everyone else does. Fair enough, why they wanted to put a song like `Poor Twisted Me' on the album totally escapes me, but when you have songs like `Thorn Within' and `Until It Sleeps' to compensate, it matters little. It may not be as heavy as the bone-heads wanted, but if a song does not have distortion on it, does that make it a bad song? No. This is an album for every mood, and it is a rock album. They never said it was going to be as heavy as Master of Puppets, and if you bought it expecting that, then die. I personally would have preferred `Justice For All' part II, but this does the job just fine. And it's better than the indulgent toss on Reload. And don't give me that guff about 'sell-out'. They were taking a risk with this, because they knew the mainstream were already scared of big, ugly Metallica, and that the old 'Metallibangers' (sorry to use that word, but you get the idea who I'm Talking about) would destroy them for going 'light'. If they had have done Master of Puppets part 2 then that would have been selling out, as it would have sold by the bucket-load, and htey knew it.
Did you know that out there in the world somewhere, there is someone who hates Metallica solely because James stopped drinking? And for that, they have succeeded in ensuring themselves a place in history...as a total f**king moron...
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2005
My first experience with Metallica was in 2000 when Lars led the charge to kill Napster. I downloaded them out of protest... and bought six of their albums as a result. Lars, you may now take the floor. Taking a truly unbiased, decent sample from every 'phase' of Metallica's music (St. Anger had yet to be released), I couldn't find anything truly bad - but here's why I consider 1991-200 Metallica superiior to '80's Metallica - the Black album ended cut-and-paste lyrics. Here's what I mean:
Life it seems to fade away/Can't tell if this is true or dream/Hybrid children watch the sea/Just call my name and I'll hear you scream.
Try doing that to Load. Metallica's old songs, while more complex musically, relied on a formula. I love Puppets and Justice, but one more album of lyrics that could have been battlefield hymns would have killed them. The Black album got them away from that, and Load perfected it by restoring the epics (Outlaw Torn, Bleeding Me), and juxtaposing them alongside the energetic (dare I say fun) tracks like Ain't My B*tch and Hero of the Day.
Here's a breakdown:
Ain't My Bitch - I was suprised at how simple the guitar is... the bass is actually harder, and it's truly tragic that Newsted got so burried in the distortion... lack of bass plagues Metallica. However, this is one of their greatest openers.
2x4 - Too bluesy, but still, it was an experiment.
The House Jack Built - I seem to be one-man minority here - the whole song is a 3-minute build-up to the bridge (The higher you are), and I anticipate it every time.
Until it Sleeps - My God... that's a bass in the beginning, and I can here it... in fact, it maintains the lead through the verses. *Tear*
King Nothing - A bass intro again? Now Newsted's spoiling us. Pretty good... that 'off to Never-Never Land' outro brings up an interesting point... why does Metallica recycle their lyrics so much? St. Anger is the outro of Damage Inc. Through the Never is the Frayed Ends of Sanity. The Unforgivens... obvious. I guess this is Enter sandman II.
Hero - Most commercial, but still, listen to that solo and tell me there's no beauty in simplicity. Their skill really shines through in that the song goes through 3 distinct phases, like the old ones, and yet is under 5 minutes.
Bleeding Me - Perfection, any attempt to describe shames her.
Cure/Hate/Twisted - My only complaint - they're all the same. However, at about 4 minutes each, it's no worse than Leper Messiah or those other 8-minute death ballads of old.
Mama Said - Nothing Else Matters foreshadowed this. Frankly, I think it's Hetfield's vocal peak, which he passed right after this album (listen to Low Man's Lyric) and has been on a steady decline ever since.
Thorn Within - Not spectacular, but shouldn't be skipped over.
Ronnie - This could be their first 'story' song ever that wasn't about a soldier. Kudos.
Outlaw Torn - Back to formula, new and improved. It has a buildup, the old-school tempo change for the bridge, and a monster solo, but it also has the new techniques - sound effects, lead bass in the verses, non-couplet lyrics. This song alone gives Load the fifth star.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2008
This was when James was still James. He wasnt taking lessons by some psychiatrist on how to be "in touch with his feelings" and all that. He was James Hetfield: angry, screwed up and self destructive....the only difference here is that hes more mature, and naturally explored other musical tastes he was into. Namely blues.
The blues have been a cornerstone to rock n roll and metal music, and we see MetallicA expounding upon that. Its dark and heavy but makes you wanna move a bit more than just head bang and push 'n shove in a mosh pit. Load has way more groove to it.
"Aint My B__tch" is an upbeat opener. Its catchy hard rock that has that MetallicA touch. Its got this slight southern heavy feel to it that i love. The guitar solo is evident of that. Good opener.
"2x4" hits us upside the head with that blues sound, but darker than typical blues music. mix it with heavy guitar and James's evil growling vocals, and you got an idea of what it might sound like. This song deserves to be played while your drinking some beer or liquor and having smoke. This song might be more of an acquired taste, but its good stuff.
"The House That Jack Built" is probubly one of my very favorite of the songs on Load. Clocking at 6 minutes and 38 seconds, MetallicA progress with a bit longer song. With a memorable chorus thats very inspiring. This is a dark, and even uplifting song, if you can believe it...in a downtrodden way. One of the best songs on the album.
Now "Until It Sleeps" was the first big hit single on this album. I remember when i first heard it on the radio. It wasnt epic metal music...but i remember not complaining. It was its own beast. It was heavy and dark in its own right. Sure i didnt have any thrash speed guitar, but i honestly didnt notice. The song was that good. Dark inspired memorable hard rock, with a very memorable bass line opener. Cant forget that. Another good track that has a lot of lyrical meaning.
"King Nothing" almost seems like it could of been done on maybe the Black Album, it always tricks me, and i have to remember that its not metal, more than its some groovy evil sounding hard rock with that blues influence. Not all heavy music has to be fast as hell. This song cocks more attitude, a attribute ive always loved about later MetallicA albums like this. They werent just pissed, James gave us that " I DONT GIVE A F--CK" attitude , that made us wanna kick down someones door, with a shotgun in one hand and a beer in the other. Good song.
"Hero Of The Day" slows it down a tad, though it has a bit of an upbeat bridge and heavy chorus. The verses James sing are soothing, inspired and filled with power as it builds up. Definatly one of the more memorable songs on the album. It has an almost haunting melancholy to it, but it definatly has its heavy parts. Another very good song, and very meaningful song. ( the S&M version is even more powerful and moving)
"Bleeding Me" requires a bit more from the listener. Its over 8 minutes long. And hopefully MetallicA fans and casual listeners have a decent attention span lol. This is a very layed back, reflective song. More great singing from James, and yet it still manages to build up into something heavy. Further exploring that dark hard rock, structured around a somewhat blues influence. Remember, traces of the blues can be found in 80s MetallicA as well, you find it really in all metal and rock, but MetallicA really dug deeper into that influence and took it to the next level. This song returns to epic song lengths of old, but it takes us to another world, a world thats still pitch black.
The "Cure" is one of their more experimental songs. Its not a bad song, but its not as outstanding as the other songs, but still gives us more groovy riffs, and its worth listening to. The part when it goes "...Uncross your arms..." that sounds like they channeled the Black Album. That little part sounded so heavy, it kinda makes you want MetallicA to kick into over drive and turn it into a speed metal song...but to no avail lol. ( Just go pop in the Black Album if you start getting sentimental ) Again, not a bad song. just not extremely special.
"Poor Twisted Me" is another acquired taste. Steps back into that dark bluesy mode, but is a bit more infectious, makes me want to sing along. Could work as another drinking song at a bar. Thats what i like about. Its an okay song, just might take a few listens to really appreciate.
"Waste My Hate" is an okay song. just another hard rock song infused with some of that blues infatuation. Might be considered filler. but its not a bad song. it doesnt fall flat. If you really dig this sound you might love it even more. Either way, it didnt stand out in my head as all that amazing, but its a decently made song.
Now we come what i think is MetallicA's most underrated song of all time.
That song? "Mama Said"
"Mama said" could of been a great metal song if it wanted to be, but it took a more western path instead, and delivers a powerful and great song still that showcases some of james best vocals. This is one of my top favorite songs from LOAD, and from Metallica, period. Its an inspired song that moves you. telling a tale. A must listen. Great stuff that stands with MetallicAs up with other great unforgettable MetallicA songs.
Though sadly its very overlooked , but that makes it all the more special. Its like finding gold in a mountain somewhere no one cared to look.
"Thorn Within" continues the quality song craft. This song is as dark as anything sung by James on the Black Album but in more hard rock mode, but its still very heavy and dark. Memorable lyrics. Memorable song. One of the better songs offered on Load.
Now heres another one of those songs you have to be patient with lol. It tells a story of a kid who i think grew up being ridiculed and finds revenge in a way thats not really all that nice. When the chorus sings "...Now they all pray!...Blood stain wash away!!" , you get the idea. And i think that chorus is the highlight of the song. The song as whole is allright, definatly takes a lot of listens probubly to really get into. But ill tell you what. MetallicA created their own sound here with Load....you cant really put your finger on the sound. Its got blues, its got hard rock, with a splash of alterntive rock.....who makes this kinda music? NO ONE. just MetallicA did, and it was pretty damn good. Even when songs like this were one of those more "acquired taste" lol.
"The Outlaw Torn" is a lumbering, dark, epic song. James sounds great here. Very good lyrics. Raw real emotion was pumped into this song, you can feel it. One of the more dark songs on the album. A great closer to a very good album. It one of MetallicA's longest songs clocking at 9 minutes and 48 seconds. Its a bit progressive, heavy , and laid back, but all together dark and cold as a desert at midnight.
This might not be as speedy as past 80s work by this band or as utterly heavy, but the songs are so good that i didnt even really notice, i forgot about it, the songs were that infectious and well done, ya cant help but like this album. Its still very much MetallicA in the end ,just matured and with a bit more grooves.
The LOAD album seems to have aged very well, like strong whiskey.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2000
I guess the "sell out" naysayers have been shredded enough here, and elsewhere, but I have something else to say on this subject, anyway. First of all, let me say that, no, I'm not crazy about this album or the artistic direction that Metallica has taken with this album and "Re-load." That said, claiming that they have "sold out" - which is, by the way, the oldest, most common, and most ASININE criticism, ever thrown at rock bands - is patently ridiculous. Crying, "sell out," has always struck me as exceedingly lame, but it's only after hearing this criticism hurled at Metallica, mainly by their most disloyal, numb-skulled, so-called "fans," WAY TOO OFTEN, that I felt compelled to call B.S., once-and-for-all, on the "sell out" thing.
First of all, let's define "sell out," as it pertains to Rock-and-Roll (or any form of art, for that matter), shall we? A band has "sold out" if they have... 1) compromised their own artistic beliefs, by going with the popular trend, mainly for the purpose of making more money. 2) given in to greedy recording label executives' wishes, even though it goes against the band's own artistic direction. I can guarantee you that neither of these scenarios has happened with Metallica, and I can also guarantee you that, historically, either of these scenarios has probably actually happened only a small percentage of the time that a "popular" or "successful" band has been accused of "selling out" by disgruntled fans who are allergic to ANY sort of stylistic change that a band might make.
Metallica certainly doesn't need any more money, and they've never done anything that would indicate that money is more important to them than the music; and anyone who has paid any real close attention to the things these guys have said and done over the years would know that changing their musical style just to give in to the greedy wishes of a record label, is just NOT their style - besides the fact that this hard-working band has paved its own way enough that I'm sure they have earned a considerable amount of autonomy with their record label over the years.
As far as this album goes, yes, I like the "old" Metallica better. But this "new direction" is not about "selling out," it's about a band getting further back to its roots, which is an impulse that many a great rock band has taken somewhere along its path. And while most of these songs don't do much for me, there's nothing here that smells of lack of passion or conviction, which would be tell-tale signs of a "sell out." If you don't like this music, don't listen to it, but stop making accusations that don't make sense.