Dee Snider has defended METALLICA's "Load" album, saying it was an "amazing" record that saw the band "growing" musically.
Released in 1996, "Load" marked a new direction for METALLICA, featuring what one critic has described as "a fresh take on LYNYRD SKYNYRD-tinged boogie rock for the 1990s."
Although "Load" and 1997's "Reload" were warmly received by critics at the time, they've since taken their place among the most reviled work of METALLICA's career.
During a recent installment of his "I Wanna Talk" podcast, Snider spoke extensively about METALLICA, including why he initially felt the band "wasn't going anywhere."
Addressing METALLICA's musical and image changes that came about with the release of "Load", the TWISTED SISTER frontman said (see video below): "I'm not a day-one die-hard METALLICA fan, so I wasn't invested in 'Kill 'Em All' or 'Ride The Lightning' or 'Master Of Puppets' the way you hardcore fans are. And I understand, when you're that invested, how changes can bother you. 'Cause I'm an early QUEEN fan, and QUEEN started much heavier. They were always melodic, but they changed when you got to 'Fat Bottomed Girls' and 'Bicycle [Race]' and bullshit like that. And as an original QUEEN fan, I was disheartened — they had changed. So I could see where you hardcore METALLICA fans felt they were giving in to what was going on. And I've gotta say they and MEGADETH were the two bands that stood up against the grunge era. MEGADETH didn't give an inch, to their credit. PANTERA, by the way, didn't give an inch. But if you're talking about ones that were coming out of the '80s, METALLICA — they seemed to give an inch with their logo, they seemed to give an inch with their hairstyles, they seemed to… I don't wanna say they gave an inch musically. They musically changed a bit."
Snider continued: "Bands need to be allowed to grow, and the fans don't want you to. So, as an artist, your years are going by, and if you're still connected with music, you're growing and changing, things are happening. Fans have a real reluctance to allow that to happen. They don't wanna see those changes happen. Yet at the same time, bands have been accused of being stale and not growing and changing. So it's a real Catch-22 for the band. And personally, [I think] the 'Load' record was amazing. But then again, one of my favorite MOTÖRHEAD records is 'Another Perfect Day', which is hated by MOTÖRHEAD fans. And I'm a MOTÖRHEAD fan. But that record was amazing with [guitarist] Brian Robertson. But was it a MOTÖRHEAD record in the traditional sense. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Some amazing stuff on there."
Dee went on to praise METALLICA for attaining massive commercial success without drastically altering its musical approach.
"There is no band more deserving of their success and they should be given that respect," Snider said. "Because if you're talking about breaking down the wall for metal and making true metal accepted by the masses, METALLICA did that for all of us. So, bravo."
One person who disagrees with Snider's assessment of "Load" is former PANTERA and current DOWN frontman Philip Anselmo, who has previously called it "a terrible record" that should have been released as a side project and not under the METALLICA banner.
In a 2013 interview with Revolver magazine, METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich said that "Load" and "Reload" are "great records" that "are creatively on par with every other record we've made. Obviously, they're bluesier records, and at that time, we were listening to a lot of LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE and AC/DC, and we had a different kind of foundation than records before or after," he said. "And I understand that there are people who couldn't quite figure out what was going on with the haircuts and the rest of it, and that's fine. But musically, if you strip all that other stuff away, if you just listen to the 27 songs — 'Load' and 'Reload' were intended as one double-record — it's a great collection of songs that is on par with everything else that we've done creatively."
METALLICA guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield has repeatedly expressed his dislike of the "Load" album cover and its inspiration, telling Classic Rock magazine in a 2009 interview: "Lars and Kirk [Hammett, guitar] 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."