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3.08 | 66 ratings | 6 reviews
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Live album · 1999

Filed under Symphonic Metal


Disc 1
1. The Ecstasy of Gold (2:32)
2. The Call of Ktulu (9:36)
3. Master of Puppets (8:56)
4. Of Wolf and Man (4:20)
5. The Thing That Should Not Be (7:28)
6. Fuel (4:37)
7. The Memory Remains (4:44)
8. No Leaf Clover (5:45)
9. Hero of the Day (4:46)
10. Devil's Dance (5:28)
11. Bleeding Me (9:01)

Total Time: 67:19

Disc 2
1. Nothing Else Matters (6:49)
2. Until It Sleeps (4:32)
3. For Whom the Bell Tolls (4:54)
4. -Human (4:21)
5. Wherever I May Roam (7:03)
6. Outlaw Torn (10:00)
7. Sad but True (5:48)
8. One (7:55)
9. Enter Sandman (7:41)
10. Battery (7:24)

Total Time: 66:31


- James Hetfield / lead vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar
- Kirk Hammett / lead guitar, backing vocals
- Jason Newsted / bass, backing vocals
- Lars Ulrich / drums
- San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Kamen

About this release

Live, double CD, Elektra/Vertigo, 1999.

Recorded on April 21–22, 1999 at Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, California.

Thanks to Pekka, CCVP, adg211288 for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

When it was first revealed that Metallica's next endeavor would involve playing with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, I can only imagine the disgust and doubt that crept into the minds of fans. After the divisive 'Load' and 'Reload' albums, and the covers album 'Garage Inc.' (none of which were likely to convert anyone), most people must have thought Metallica had lost their minds to consider playing with an orchestral ensemble.

Thankfully, Metallica proved them all wrong.

This album is great! Not only does it highlight the progressive elements in Metallica's music, but also how adaptable it can be to other genres. It's really hard to visualize what Metallica's music would sound like with a symphony backing it, but the orchestra, conducted by world-renowned Michael Kamen, take the band's songs and make their own arrangements and compositions from them, blending the two with ease to create an all-out attack on the senses.

Featuring pretty much all of their big hits, the band come across as stronger than ever. The musicianship is of a high standard, and some would argue that James Hetfield's vocals are at their absolute peak. And two new songs, '-Human' and 'No Leaf Clover', show that, at a time when the band leaned more towards hard rock than metal, they could still go toe-to-toe with some of the heaviest bands the genre has to offer.

I don't really have any major complaints with 'S&M', although, if I can indulge in a bit of nitpicking (everyone's a critic at heart), there are one or two songs I'd have maybe left out in place of an alternative. For example, 'The Thing That Should Not Be' does nothing for me, and where the hell is 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'?! Still, all the classics are here, with songs like 'Master of Puppets', 'Battery', 'One' and 'Bleeding Me' never sounding heavier.

In all honestly however, I've never really been too big on live albums, preferring the crisp and polished production of a studio recording, so this being a studio album would have been a huge plus for me. But still, it's fantastic none-the-less, and definitely as essential to any music collection as the bands earlier output.
Vim Fuego
From the lean, mean, thrash machine they once were, Metallica have become fat, bloated rock dinosaurs of the type they once despised. The transformation from velociraptor - speedy, sharp and dangerous - to diplodocus - slow, docile and blundering - has been distressing for long time fans to watch. The biggest problem here is that most of the songs are simply not suited for orchestral accompaniment. Like attempting to mix oil and water, it just doesn't work. The band really would have been better to admit the experiment did not work, cut their losses and release a four song EP of the tracks that actually DID work.

Let's be positive here. The tracks that they do pull off are excellent. The obvious one is "The Call Of The Ktulu". The instrumental from 'Ride The Lightning' is the oldest track here, and definitely the best, which is a shame because it's straight after the intro track, and the next two hours are basically a waste of time. Strangely, the only other song from the first four albums which even approaches "The Call..." is "For Whom The Bell Tolls", which is given a huge, militaristic movie soundtrack feel, like something out of `Ben Hur' or `Gladiator'. "No Leaf Clover" was obviously written with this performance in mind. The band lay off a little, allowing the orchestra to flood through. The strings, woodwind and brass sections weave in and out of the simple melody. Unfortunately, the other new track "-Human" is, for want of a better word, shit. The gentle "Nothing Else Matters" is given added facets by the orchestra, although they are obvious, as the original also has orchestral backing.

"Bleeding Me" almost works, as do a number of other tracks, but they are very patchy. The odd introduction or bridge is good, but it is never consistent enough for a whole song. Thrashers like "Fuel", "Master Of Puppets", "One" and "Battery" are absolutely ridiculous. Violins, horns, and triangles just do not belong in a song where someone is shouting "Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire!" over them. Nor do Jason Newsted's barked backing vocals fit.

In other places, violins play the counter-guitar lines, which are either multi-tracked or where Kirk Hammett's leads would normally be. A third guitar player would have been better than making some unfortunate violinists who have spent decades mastering their art fill in the gaps around a simple plodding guitar riff. That is when there actually are gaps. Much of the time, the orchestral instruments seem to be straining to be heard, and come off as superficial decoration. Much of Metallica's career has been built around a gargantuan rhythm guitar sound. It simply stomps over the subtleties of the orchestration, like Godzilla let loose in the Louvre. At other times, the orchestra is a nuisance, where just hearing the band on its own would be a classic metal moment.

If Metallica were really considerate to their fans, as they used to claim to be before we all started sending them to the poorhouse by stealing their music off the internet, they would have released a reasonable sized unaccompanied live album (not like the overpriced 'Binge/Purge' box set) with the aforementioned orchestral EP as a bonus. Instead, we get the fat Elvis version of Metallica, a self-parody, the once shiny facade dulled by decadence and overblown egos. If you really want Metallica live, get hold of one of the hundreds of bootlegs made of the band. They do not deserve your money for this album.
"S&M" is a live album release by US rock/metal act Metallica. The album was released in November 1999 through Elektra/Vertigo. It´s quite a massive release containing two CDs, both of which feature over an hour of music. "S&M" is not your "regular" live album release with the band playing in front of a cheering audience. On this release Metallica have teamed up with composer/conducter Michael Kamen and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra to perform a hybrid metal/symphony orchestra version of some of the group´s most popular compositions. In addition to featuring select songs from all studio albums spanning "Ride the Lightning (1984)" through "ReLoad (1997)", "S&M" also features two new compositions in "No Leaf Clover" and "-Human" and "The Ecstasy of Gold" by Ennio Morricone. The latter composition has been used as intro to Metallica´s shows for many years and appear here in an orchestral version that also works as an intro. The album was recorded on April 21–22, 1999 at Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, California.

The merging of rock/metal group and symphonic orchestra has been done before, but I guess Metallica couldn´t pass on the opportunity when they were presented with the idea. And it´s easy to understand why. Hearing your own compositions accompanied by a symphonic orchestra isn´t something that happens every day. Not even for a band like Metallica.

The result is a mixed bag though. Metallica deliver a decent performance, but as usual James Hetfield couldn´t hit a clean note if it came up and bit him in the ass. His performance here is sloppy and unfocused. The merging of rock/metal band and symphony orchestra doesn´t work very well either. Most of the time it sounds like the band playing their thing and the orchestra having a completely different agenda, playing some film score thing that doesn´t go very well with what the band plays. it´s especially bad in the older more thrashy tracks while the orchestra fit sligthly better on the more recent material. Overall the orchestra is a major distraction though and an even bigger power killer. The sound quality saves the album slightly but it´s not enough to make me smile.

Over two hours of music that I can barely stand to listen to is a bit much and the length of the album does end up having an impact on my rating along with the unfitting mix of metal and symphonic film score music and the awful vocal performance by James Hetfield. I almost always try to find something positive to write about a release, but other than the pretty good production values, I can´t for the life of me find anything positive to say about "S&M". This is just another example of the fact that Metallica at this point had run completely dry of original ideas and had to resort to projects like this to still get attention. I think I´m being generous when I hand out a 2 star rating.
This is the ultimate exercise in excess, to marry Metallica with a Symphony orchestra. It has been done before of course with Deep Purple and other metal acts. It is almost becoming a cliche of late with many bands taking up the idea including Kiss, Within Temptation, Dream Theater and Therion. Non metal acts have done it such as Camel, Yes and ELP. The weird thing about is these orchestral and rock marriages always work for me. I love to hear that massive orchestral sound with the crunching distortion of guitars. To hear a violin sweep across when you expect a guitar solo is bliss to my ears.

It is refreshing to hear music you love played in a different way. And Metallica do it so well. Master of Puppets is more dramtic than ever. The Thing That Should Not Be is incredible. The Memory Remains sounds iconic with audience participation. Nothing Else Matters is absolutely stunning. For Whom the Bell Tolls sounds very Gothic with the sweeping violins, and the song One is a masterpiece with the orchestral accompaniment.

None of the songs are less heavy, they are augmented to majestic heights. Watching this concert live is an even better experience of course but this is still very listenable, and perhaps a pinnacle of the group's existence. Soon after it all turned sour as we know, but it is so great to see Metallica at the height of their powers as we do in S & M.
Conor Fynes
'S & M' - Metallica (4/10)

The idea of having Metallica's generally raw and energetic music combined with an entire symphonic orchestra is an amazing concept, to say the least. In theory, the added dimension would shed a whole new light on the music the band composed and created.

For the most part, it failed to meet much of my high expectation, which is a real shame, because something really amazing could have been done here.

For starters; while Michael Kamen is undeniably a musical prodigy as far as arranging and conducting goes, alot of the symphonic arrangements here really don't do much to make the songs better, they just overlap a bit thoughtlessly, except for the occasional moment of brilliance, such as the gorgeous opening to 'Battery.'

While I've never been a fan of James Hetfield in any capacity, he really seems to bug me here. His vocal inflections and constant addiction to throwing in a 'hell yeah!' into every break gets on my nerves. Some may constrew that as being 'showmanship,' but it doesn't pass me as being any more than irritating, and it really seems to make the performance lose some of the class it could have had.

While I can understand that the live performance was recorded during the bands 'Load/Reload' period, I wish there could have been less songs from those albums here. Symphonic touch- ups do not make for a good replacement in contrast to good songwriting.

There are some good parts on the album though. The epic 'One,' 'Battery,' and 'Master Of Puppets' are all done well. The highlight of the album would probably be the instrumental 'Call Of Ktulu,' which actually works suprisingly well with orchestration.

Despite the high-points, it's not great, and while I am very tempted to give it three stars, there's far too much dissapointment here to warrant it. If you're looking for something along these lines (rock/metal infused with symponic orchestra) then turn to Pain of Salvation's 'Be' record or Nightwish's 'Dark Passion Play.'

This could have been so much better... Like many great concepts, this one is executed poorly.

Members reviews

S&M must be one of the most divisive albums in Metallica's huge discography. Some listeners seem to believe that Metallica has no business playing their most popular songs with a symphony orchestra. I obviously disagree. They're far from the first metal band to try this, but their innovative songwriting makes them more justified in this approach than most. James Hetfield has stated in Ultimate Guitar magazine, and other places, that the idea of combining Metallica with orchestral music started with Cliff Burton. How much, and how open-minded, of a Metallica fan are you? How tolerant are you of the musical experimenting that the band has done since the release of RIDE THE LIGHTNING? I think it makes a difference in the final rating of S&M. If your answer to these questions is "a lot", like me, you should definitely enjoy this album. I disagree with some of the MMA & PA collaborators whose reviews I respect and follow closely. I like James' singing. With all of his acknowledged flaws, I think his voice suits the band's music.

Metallica's setlist here wisely starts with RIDE THE LIGHTNING, when the songwriting began to improve and James began to learn how to sing. When it comes to individual highlights, I love the percussion in the second half of "The Memory Remains". It reminds me of John Adams' HARMONIELEHRE. "Devil's Dance" sounds like its name; it could be the dance before the ritual sacrifice in the soundtrack of an old horror movie. I do agree with the reviewers who write that S&M is too long at over two hours. But I'm a biased Aspie; I think that most albums over 45 minutes are too long! It helps to get the DVD version of this instead of the CD. Unusually, Metallica are a band that still seems to love playing live and getting the audience feedback, and it's apparent on the DVD. I now realize that I'm posting this review in the live album instead of the video section. I enjoyed both formats, but the DVD is really the one to get!

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