There are too many titles that Metallica earned throughout its extraordinary music career that spans over four decades, such as being one of the most commercially successful bands of all time. The band has also been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by numerous respectable magazines including Rolling Stone.
During their 40 years of making music, Metallica has released a total of 10 studio albums all of which are extremely successful and monumental, such as ‘Master of Puppets,’ ‘Ride the Lightning,’ ‘…And Justice For All.’ Furthermore, the last six studio albums of the band have consecutively debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Just like these records, Metallica’s sixth studio album ‘Load‘ was a commercial success, debuting and spending four consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart when it was first released on June 4, 1996. Although the album has many unique aspects, such as having the biggest opening week for the band after selling 680,000 units, its album cover also features one-of-a-kind artistry created with some peculiar ingredients.
While the band members loved the album cover of ‘Load,’ it was lead singer James Hetfield who didn’t necessarily agree with his bandmates. Let’s break down the story behind the album cover as well as Hetfield’s opinion on the artwork.
The Album Cover Of Metallica Has Blood And Semen
The cover of ‘Load’ is actually an original artwork titled ‘Semen and Blood III’ which is one of three photographic studies that Andres Serrano created in 1990. The image was made by mixing bovine blood and Serrano’s own semen between two sheets of Plexiglas, also known as acrylic glass.
The liner notes on the album cover simply state ‘cover art by Andres Serrano’ rather than listing the title of the work, which was smart considering the strange name of the image. The band most likely liked the artwork itself but didn’t directly reveal what its made of in order to avoid backlash from their fans.
James Hetfield Does Not Like The Album Cover Of ‘Load’
During an interview for the July 2009 issue of U.K.’s Classic Rock magazine, James Hetfield was asked about the album cover of ‘Load.’ The rocker revealed his reason for not liking the cover and stated that his bandmates who chose the image to bother him.
Apparently, drummer Lars Ulrich and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett loved abstract art, especially when both of them had formed a special bond through their drug use. While the two knew really enjoyed the aforementioned artwork, they also knew Hetfield wouldn’t like it at all.
Metallica’s frontman also didn’t forget to mention how he appreciates every form of art, aside from the ones which have a shock factor just for the sake of making people uncomfortable. If you ask Hetfield, the cover was chosen by his bandmates to aggravate him and he played along.
During the interview, Hetfield said:
“How can I put this? I guess when I talked about the resentments of being left out of the bond that they had through their drug use, Lars and Kirk 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.”
Although Hetfield expressed his dislike of the album cover, it was another aspect of it that bothered their fans. The album’s cover marked the first appearance of a new Metallica logo that had round edges rather than the iconic stabbing edges of the band’s earlier logo. Since the appearance of the logo was immensely simple compared to the previous one, fans didn’t even pay attention to the blood and semen but focused on hating the new logo.