Metallica - S&M - Review
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critics' view

“Fuck ‘em, this is not Metallica! This is not even metal!” That’s what you hear regularly when discussing Metallica’s ‘S & M’. Well, just ignore all those ‘true metallers’ who still join forces and then declare to detest the post-‘Black Album’-Metallica, or even the post-‘Master Of Puppets’-Metallica since ‘it’s not metal anymore’. No, this is no ordinary metal anymore, indeed. This wonderful album takes metal in general, and specifically Metallica to an entire new level. The ‘four horsemen’ and arranger/S.F. Symphony director Michael Kamen (R.I.P.) have chosen a number of songs covering every (musical) era Metallica went through until 1999, from ‘Ride The Lightning’ to ‘ReLoad’. So why didn’t they play early standards like “Seek And Destroy”, or other classics like “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” or “Fade To Black”? Probably because of the fact that arranging these songs for orchestra simply wouldn’t work.

Allright, the music. Let me start by saying that not all the arrangements on this album are as marvellous as the title of this review might imply. For example, “Bleeding Me” just lacks tension and “The Memory Remains” really sounds better when solely played by Metallica. But - and there’s a huge ‘but’ here – the rest of the album varies from ‘good’ to ‘unbelievably great’. And this high level is there right from the start. “The Ecstacy Of Gold”, for years the ‘official’ Metallica intro, just sounds so astonishingly beautiful when performed live by a real orchestra. This magical feeling you get when listening to this track gets even stronger when right afterwards “The Call Of The Ktulu” is played. Just breathtaking. Nothing less. The power, the enormous tension and the wonderful orchestral arrangement make this version of “The Call…” a true highlight in Metallica’s entire career. Other outstanding tracks on the first disc are “Master Of Puppets”, “Fuel” and the new song “No Leaf Clover”.

The second disc takes off with the classic Metallica ballad “Nothing Else Matters”. It’s not really necessary to say anything about this track, since it’s been played over and over again by numerous radio and TV stations all over the world. “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, already a powerful ‘vintage’ Metallica anthem on itself, becomes even more powerful when the four bandmembers are accompanied by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Also the slow but heavy “- Human” (just like “No Leaf Clover” a new song) is interesting to listen to. But the apotheosis of Metallica’s symphonic adventure comes with the final three tracks. “One” gets and extraordinary dramatic effect from both the passionate (yes, that does sound cheesy, but it’s true), emotional voice of James Hetfield and the arrangement Michael Kamen wrote for it, “Enter Sandman” rises above all standards in this orchestral version and the massive and furious “Battery” – with a ripping solo by Kirk Hammett – makes you float out of your body once again and wish you were there when Metallica performed these shows that were recorded for 'S & M'.

One thing about ‘S & M’ is for sure: both ‘lovers’ and ‘haters’ will have to admit that it’s a unique project in music and a milestone in Metallica’s career. Allthough bands like Rage and Scorpions also released so-called symphonic albums, I still concider ‘S & M’ to be by far the best in this range.

Many people (no, I don’t charge anyone) are unfortunately under the influence of the masses nowadays and, after a while, start saying things the masses ‘whisper in their ear’, so to say. Personally, I really don’t give a shit about other people’s opinion about anything, whether it’s music, clothing or politics, and also in this case, I don’t care if people will point at me as being ‘stupid’, ‘not metal’ or ‘very smart’. I just think Metallica couldn’t have found a better way to enter the new millennium.

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Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives (commonly known as Metal Archives per the URL or just MA) is a website which lists bands of predominantly heavy metal music. Encyclopaedia Metallum was described by Matt Sullivan of Nashville Scene as "the Internet's central database for all that is 'tr00' in the metal world." Terrorizer described the site as "a fully-exhaustive list of pretty much every metal band ever, with full discographies, an active forum and an interlinking members list that shows the ever-incestuous beauty of the metal scene". external-link.png
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