James Hetfield shares what Cliff Burton would have thought of Metallica’s 90’s albums

Hetfield also admits that he 'wasn't comfortable at all' during the 'Load' and 'Reload' period

Metallica frontman James Hetfield has revealed what he thinks late bassist Cliff Burton would have thought of band’s 90’s material and the records they made after his death.

Burton was killed in a bus accident when the band were travelling through Sweden on tour on 27 September 1986. Now, Hetfield has told Team Rock that Burton that Burton probably would have ‘resisted’ their shift from their thrashier roots to a more mainstream rock sound.

“Well, I certainly would have thought there would have been some resistance, for sure,” said Hetfield. “I think Cliff would have probably interjected some different stuff, getting his bass heard and some more musically challenging things, probably.”


He continued: “I would certainly think that the ‘Load’ and ‘Reload’ [era], I would have had an ally that was very against it all – the reinvention or the U2 version of Metallica.”

“There’s some great, great songs on there,” Hetfield said of the ‘Load’ and ‘Reload’ era – but that he ‘wasn’t comfortable with that period at all’.

“But my opinion is that all of the imagery and stuff like that was not necessary. And the amount of songs that were written was… it diluted the potency of the poison of Metallica. And I think Cliff would have agreed with that.”

Hetfield added: “For me, ‘St. Anger’ kind of stands alone. It’s more of a statement than an album. It’s more of the soundtrack to [Some Kind of Monster], in a way. There’s some really interesting and cool riffs, some great songs on there. But sonically it sounds fragmented, which is exactly where we were at the point. But in that fragmentation it brought us together. So it was a very necessary piece of the puzzle to get us where we are today.”

Burton was replaced by Jason Newsted, and later Rob Trujillo, who plays in the band today.


Hetfield also paid tribute to their friend, collaborator and mentor – the late, great Lemmy.

“My vision of him was as a statue of a man that was immortal,” he said. “When he passed it scared me, like, ‘where’s our captain now?’ He’s been a godfather to us. There’s no doubt that without him there wouldn’t be a Metallica. When he was around, it just felt like things were going to be okay.”