METALLICA's official web site has been updated with the following message:"We know it's been a little time since we last talked vinyl, but we're keepin' our promise to release the entire catalog, bringing you 'Load' on May 18. "If you've been following along, you know the drill — there will be two packages, a two-disc gatefold package for the 33.3 version, and a box for the four-disc, 180-gram, 45-rpm deluxe edition. "All the music was half-speed-mastered from the original analog tapes at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood, California to bring you audiophile quality. "Check out your fave local record shop, or just head over here to the METALLICA store to pick up a copy starting Tuesday, May 18. "We don't have details on a release for our friends outside of North America at this time so we'll hit you back here as soon as we know more. And, of course, 'Re-Load' is next in the queue... tentative date for that to hit the streets is at the end of June." METALLICA's sixth studio album, "Load" was released on June 4, 1996. It spent four consecutive weeks at the top of The Billboard 200 chart and has since sold over five million copies in America. With a running time of 78 minutes and 59 seconds, "Load" is METALLICA's longest studio album. Initial pressings of the LP were affixed with stickers that boasted its long playtime, simply reading "78:59." Consequently, "The Outlaw Torn" had to be shortened by about one minute to fit on the LP. The full version was released on a single for "The Memory Remains" as "The Outlaw Torn (Unencumbered by Manufacturing Restrictions Version)" with a running time of 10:48.
The cover of the album is original artwork entitled "Semen and Blood III". It is one of three photographic studies by Andres Serrano created in 1990 by mingling the artist's own semen and bovine blood between two sheets of Plexiglas. The liner notes simply state "Cover art by Andres Serrano" rather than listing the actual title of the work. In a 2009 interview with Classic Rock magazine, METALLICA guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield expressed his dislike of the album cover and its inspiration. "Lars [Ulrich, drums] and Kirk [Hammett, guitar] were very into abstract art, pretending they were gay," he said. "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."