Metallica’s 1996 album “Load” and its companion release, 1997’s “Reload” saw a similar artwork and James Hetfield has not been a fan of that fact. It was a source of controversy among the band’s fans as well.
“Load” featured a photo called “Semen And Blood III”, which consisted of cow blood and artist Andres Serrano’s own semen between two plates of Plexiglas, while the cover of “Reload” was adorned with a similar Serrano photo titled “Piss And Blood XXVI”.
James Hetfield expressed his distaste
While other members of Metallica reportedly liked the idea, Hetfield expressed his dislike for the “Load” cover in a 2009 interview with Classic Rock magazine. At the time, he touched upon the artwork while discussing Metallica’s so-called “wilderness” years, in the mid-to-latter 1990s, during which drug use and disagreements over the group’s image and sound nearly drove them apart.
Hetfield said he was particularly uncomfortable with the change in the group’s image around the release of “Load”. Hetfield explained: “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 said that he thought Ulrich and 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.”