S & M
Metallica has constantly been exploring new ideas and concepts in their releases. From thrashing heavy metal at its super-raw state in Kill ‘Em All to mainstream rock, southern, and blues in Load and Reload , the musical themes have always been different. This constant change, of course, has lost some fans for the band on the way, but mostly these twists have made listening to the band more exciting and enjoyable. (What-would-they-think-of-next? types.) Following suit, S & M is a departure for Metallica from the styles it was known for.
Simply put, S & M is a double disc of best-of-Metallica played live, with the San Francisco Symphony playing in. Except for the two previously-unreleased songs, “Human” and “No Leaf Clover,” all tracks are taken from Metallica’s studio albums, from Master Of Puppets to Re-Load . (The fun track is “The Ecstasy Of Gold,” a remake of the catchy tune from the movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly .) Musically, the orchestra and Metallica meld and blend very well in most numbers, especially in the slow ones like “The Call of the Ktulu” or “Nothing Else Matters,” but on fast-paced thrash tunes like “Battery,” Metallica goes out all the way and pounds the living day lights out, kind of oblivious of the orchestra playing. (Like the “darkness imprisoning me…” part from “One”). But this is very well composed, orchestrated, and produced, a lot of credit for which is due to the conductor and co-producer Michael Kamen, who is known for his attention to detail and nuance. (The main producer is Bob Rock, who produced Load and Re-Load .)
Metallica is not the first band to have tried the rock-symphony fusion, (Deep Purple, ELP, and few others have done it before) and S & M may not be the best that one would expect out of a metal band… but this is from a band that loves to play live and known for being good at it. So, if the nice folks who criticize Metallica as having gone “soft” or weird would give this album a willing try, they would find this bold musical move to be fun and worthwhile.