In an archived interview just now published by Metal Hammer, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield looked back on the band’s ’90s and 2000s output, discussing what the band’s late bassist Cliff Burton might have thought of it.
“Well, I certainly would have thought there would have been some resistance, for sure,” Hetfield said. “I think the Black Album was a great album and I appreciate the fact that we did have the balls to do that and have [producer] Bob Rock to work with us. It had to be, it really did.
“You know, when I go back and I listen to [1988’s] …And Justice for All, it couldn’t have stayed on that path. We needed to bring in another set of trusted ears,” he continued. “But I think Cliff would have probably interjected some different stuff, getting his bass heard and some more musically challenging things, probably.
“I would certainly think that the Load  and Reload , I would have had an ally that was very against it all — the reinvention or the U2 version of METALLICA,” James added.
When asked if he personally was not comfortable with band’s mid-90s output, he replied: “No, no, not at all. There are some great, great songs on there 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.”