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Review – Metallica "S&M" (1999) September 11, 2008

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 1999, Metallica.
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Written by Jake

As far are live albums go I usually tend to steer away, or at least narrowly avoid them. Metallica’s S&M, however, intrigued me significantly. This is no simple live album put out to tide hungry fans over until the next gigantic epic from the metal giants. This CD was produced because Metallica realized they were missing out on an entirely untapped collection of fans: the orchestra nerds.

Metallica’s S&M is a series of 21 songs performed live with The San Francisco Philharmonic backing every delicious thrashing chord. While I’m on the subject, may I just say that Michael Kamen, the conductor of said symphony, is a genius with the wand, and his philharmonic is equally genius with their respective instruments.

No new material appears on the CD, neglecting “No Leaf Clover” and “-Human” of course, but that doesn’t stop it from being a truly fantastic album. The first 11 ½ minutes are pure instrumental, just beautiful guitar and orchestra in wonderful harmony, something we as a generation do not see very often.

The energy is certainly alive and well, and the balance between Metallica and the orchestra is finely tuned and perfected with a somehow god-like control. Every old Metallica song you thought you knew, every one you had heard just one too many times and were sick of are given a second chance on S&M and they do not disappoint.

As anyone will tell you, I’ve never been a TERRIBLY huge fan of Metallica, though I do appreciate the music they put out. What turns me off mostly is their average track length; somewhere around 7 minutes. I find that to be just a few minutes longer than I can handle and am subsequently am turned off of most Metallica.

A significant portion of S&M is sang by the crowd, which isn’t so much a turn off as a, “What the fuck?” If I’m listening to a Metallica CD, quite honestly I want to listen to Metallica. The crowd can sing a few parts, yeah, like the extremely well-known bits of choruses, but for the most part I want to hear Hetfield and Ulrich. The crowd is prominent on about a fifth of the two-disc set, throwing in their wondrous talent to aid in this mastery of audible art.

You are treated to well over an hour of beautiful music on disc one, featuring sonnets such as “Master of Puppets”, “Fuel” and, “The Memory Remains”, and then, as you think it’s over, you reopen the case and find another gem waiting for you. The second disc is packed with so much more fantastic it seems as if the circle of plastic should explode in your hands. Tracks like, “One”, “Enter Sandman”, “Nothing Else Matters”, “Wherever I May Roam” and “For Whom The Bell Tolls” make appearances.

Reviewing a live CD of this caliber is extremely hard to pull off due to the sheer awesomeness that is every live recording ever released. There is a certain energy that comes with a live rock show, something that can barely be tapped on a disc of plastic. Metallica took that energy, shoved it on said disc(s) and forced your ears to bleed from happy. Even if the songs are three hours long, I can kind of live with that, and I’m sure you can too.

The Point — Metallica’s S&M is one of the greatest pieces of metal ever concieved. The orchestra adds a whole new element to something that was already finely tuned. If you don’t already have this CD then buy it now. If you don’t, I fear Lars may hunt you down in your sleep and gouge out your eyes.

10 out of 10

Download this – “No Leaf Clover”

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