The eagerly awaited, but
at the same time, low key Metallica Orchestral shows performed in early
’1999 were both recorded and later released under the name S&M.
Symphony & Metallica.
Without really knowing
what to expect after hitting the play button, you are greeted by the
faded in crowd as per any live album.
Then something different happens.
Yes, it is the Ecstasy Of Gold but this time its no intro tape
but a full on 80+ member orchestra.
It is goose bump inspiring.
As it eventually dies
the silence is interrupted by the opening pickings of The Call Of Ktulu. A rarity to say the least but
performed as tight as ever. The
strings slowly fill in and this instrumental offering takes on a
completely new live concept. An apt insight into things to come.
mix during this recording is very well balanced. The engineering must have been a
bitch to master due the complexity of the sound. Full marks to all
concerned. Early on you are
hit by the legendary Master Of Puppets.
Its difficult to know what parts to listen to! Half of you will
be twitching away to Lars & co doing the business and the other half
trying to listen in detail to what, and how Michael Kamen and his band
are doing. The harmony part
is so bloody nice!
With Of Wolf And Man and
The Thing That Should Not Be bringing the opening quarter to a change of
theme, we are treated to a new one in the shape of Fuel. How the fuck they worked out the
orchestral parts to this I’ll never know. Blistering you could say. Next up is another Re-load
track. The Memory Remains. Yet
again, sounding flawless and as if they’d been there all along. I actually found that I listened
to S&M so much that it took a while for me to adjust back to
listening to the studio albums! You can’t help but hear the extra
thickness of the guys in Tuxedos even when they’re not there!
The first of the new
songs included on this record is No Leaf Clover. This is my personal highlight. It is awesome. Starts with a clean melody then
crunches into a trademark Metallica riffathon with silent parts where
James asks whether “the soothing light at then of your tunnel… is
just a freight train coming your way?…”
Hero Of The Day, the
heavy toon entitled Devils Dance and Bleeding Me closing the first half. No complaints yet….
One of the reasons that
may have (or probably did) inspired the S&M gigs taking place is the
opener on CD2. Nothing Else
Matters. It doesn’t
disappoint either. The
strings are arranged slightly different to the Black version, which is a
nice touch. We delve back to Load with the underrated track that is
Until It Sleeps. This is
followed by For Whom the Bell tolls which is OK but not as outstanding
as some of the earlier tracks or what’s still to come.
After another orchestral
intro, -Human kicks you in the teeth.
The inclusion of these previously unreleased tracks is a nice
touch and gives the whole album an extra point in the Value For Money
stakes as well as compelling you to listen to it “just one more
time”. I only hope that
song may be included in future show’s as has No Leaf Clover.
Wherever I May Roam is
up next and as expected sounds as good as ever. Sad But True takes us nearer the
end with One taking over. A bit of a surprise considering the brutality
of the last half of the song but it comes over well, especially the
opening clean verses.
Sandman and Battery are
the icing on the cake.
If this were a normal
gig without the symphony, it would have been a healthy audio snapshot of
what Metallica are like in concert.
The fact it includes the orchestra and has 2 new songs makes it
something special. Everyone’s
heard these (well most) songs live at some point, be it at a gig or on
one of the live box sets or b-sides.
This is an essential album due to the fact this will never happen
again (I’m guessin’ anyway!) and is Metallica in a different light. A real live treat and a must in
any fans collection.