METALLICA — S&M (review)

METALLICA — S&M album cover Live album · 1999 · Symphonic Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
0.5/5 ·
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.
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more than 2 years ago
I dunno, I like it.
Kustin wrote:
more than 2 years ago
While I as well won't be coming back to this a lot, I'll have to differ by saying that I owe to this live album for finally getting me into the music of Metallica. Granted, it lies in the appeal of symphonic layers backing their music up, probably because I've grown up with soundtrack music and exploring the metal territory all the more.
bartosso wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I love your style and clarity! Your metaphors are hilarious and spot-on. Great review. I haven't listened to this album for 10 years or so I don't think I have to tell what I think about it.
Vim Fuego wrote:
more than 2 years ago
@UMUR: Brilliant description that! Wish I'd thought of it.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I actually like some of the performances on here, but it certainly doesn't work well for all the songs. The Hero of the Day version here I've found excellent.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I'm with you all on this one. I do like symphonic extreme metal though. Septicflesh has got my attention lately but this one is a big fat mess
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I have to agree. I think it´s a terrible album. It´s like the orchestra and the band are playing at two seperate concerts. Nothing fits together.

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