Sound — 8
For a hardcore pre-Load Metallica fan, Load will come as a bit of a surprise. The album sounds a bit insecure, because Metallica seem to be in unfamiliar territory, trying to get a bit deeper than they normally would. It also has a bit of a Western sounding feel to it, from songs like "Ronnie" and "The Outlaw Torn". However, don't let this put you off. There are some rocking songs on this album, that still have the essence of Metallica but still sounds different.
Lyrics — 8
James Hetfields lyrics here are much more deeper and complex than other albums, which is a nice surprise. "Mama Said" for example is a touching song of James's feelings towards his dead mother, and is very personal. Fans who likes James' lyrics from previous albums may find these lyrics frustrating, seeing as there is more than the literal meaning to them. That said, songs like "Cure" see Hetfield trying a bit too hard to be poetic, but "Cure" is essentially the only to be trying too hard, the rest are of a higher standard than previous albums.
Overall Impression — 8
This album is VERY from the Black Album, and some fans may be put off by this, (I originally was, but then I realised its impossible to replicate an album like The Black Album), however, it is still a fantastic album. The songs here are just as rocking as other albums, but wanting to dig a bit deeper, which I think is a good thing. Buy this album and see for yourself.