For the entirety of the ‘90s, Metallica almost seemed to have a love-hate relationship with their fans.
If some of the hardcore thrash crowd wasn’t that big on the more radio rock sounds they were doing on The Black Album, they sure as hell weren’t prepared for the Load era, as the band entered their alt-rock phase and started to get haircuts and looking like the GQ-approved version of themselves.
Metallica are always ones to move on from the past, but Lars Ulrich has still stood by their wild experiment.
In a recent interview, Lars talked about the change becoming a bit more necessary over time, saying “back in the day when there was no social media and when you’re off the radar, you’re off the radar.
And then ‘Load’ came out, and all of the sudden there was like, ‘Woah! They all got haircuts!’ And then people came to the conclusion that that was some sort of contrived purposeful undertaking, which of course it wasn’t. People always find an angle to hit you in the places where you least expect it, and you have to accept that.”
Granted, it took a while for even some people in the band to come around to the new look, with James Hetfield being one of the biggest dissenters saying:
“I wasn’t 100% on with it, but I would say that that was a compromise. I said, ‘I’m going with Lars and Kirk’s vision on this. You guys are extremely passionate about this, so I’ll jump on board.”
In fact, Lars even went as far as to say that these records were Metallica leaving their metal roots behind altogether, saying:
“If people think we’re a heavy metal band, a Satanic thrash band from Norway or guys that wanna hang around and do all of Oasis’s drugs, I can’t find the energy to defend that.”
While most of us would probably say that the guys committed to the metal gimmick when they named the group METALLICA, Lars does look back and laugh at the backlash to the whole thing, saying:
“Occasionally we sit and chuckle when people throw some of the stuff at us. Which is fine. Ultimately, I guess it means that people care, that people are passionate, and sort of still caught up in what Metallica does. That’s a good problem to have.”
Though Load may have been a different flavor of Metallica than what we were used to, Lars might have a point of standing by it, actually having a broader impact in the world of hard rock, earning fans amongst artists like Matt Heafy of Trivium.
And let’s face it, when you see how far they fell on something like Lulu, a few haircuts here and there are the least of our problems.