When METALLICA released their 1996 album “Load” and its follow-up release, 1997’s “Reload”, it was not without some controversy.
The artwork for both releases consisted of photographs by creator Andres Serrano which featured urine, blood and semen between two pieces glass which caused quite an stir among fans and also frontman James Hetfield apparently.
In a new interview with Metal Hammer, Serrano was asked about the reaction from METALLICA’s fanbase and the band to the “Load” and “Reload” covers. He said: “I think the images were a hit. I read a review once where the ‘Load’ album was named No. 1 on a list of best album covers. We know Lars [Ulrich, drums] and Kirk [Hammett, guitar] were happy with it but James [Hetfield, guitar/vocals] was not. I think James is still fuming.”
Hetfield has expressed his dislike for the “Load” album cover and era before, saying in a 2009 interview with Classic Rock magazine: “The whole ‘We need to reinvent ourselves’ topic was up. Image isn’t an evil thing to me, but if the image isn’t you, it doesn’t make much sense.”
Hetfield also said that he thought drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett were “after a U2 kind of vibe, Bono doing his alter-ego. I couldn’t get into it. I would say at least half the pictures that were to be in the booklet, I yanked out. The cover went against what I was feeling. Lars and Kirk were very into abstract art, pretending they were gay. I think they knew it bugged me. I think the cover of ‘Load’ was just a piss-take around all that. I just went along with all this crazy stupid shit.”
Ulrich was asked to single out his favorite METALLICA album cover in an interview with Maxim a few years ago, to which he responded: “I’m not much for favorites… the ‘Load’ and ‘Reload’ albums with the amazing pieces by Andres Serrano. They will always hold a special place in my heart. I love him as an artist. I love the imagery. I love the fact that we saw Serrano through as the cover art for those two records. Those are probably my two favorites.”