REVIEW: Metallica - S&M2

SECOND TAKE: Metallica reunited with the San Francisco Symphony last year for S&M2.

SECOND TAKE: Metallica reunited with the San Francisco Symphony last year for S&M2.

METALLICA fans generally fall into two camps when discussing the band's 1999 live collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony.

S&M is either viewed as a masterful jousting of classical and metal which enriched Metallica's muscular thrash. But critics saw it as the final narcissistic indulgence of a band that had gradually grown from its metal roots during the '90s to become a bloated commercial behemoth obsessed with protecting its riches from Napster downloads.

Whatever your opinion, S&M delivered James Hetfield (vocals, guitar), Lars Ulrich (drums), Kirk Hammett (lead guitar) and company like you've never heard them before.

The same cannot be said for the sequel S&M2, released 21 years later. Half of the 21 actual songs on the album appeared on the original album. The record even opens in the same manner with the instrumental double act of The Ecstasy Of Gold and The Call Of Ktulu.

It's not until track four we're given fresh meat with a performance of The Day That Never Comes, the epic first single off 2008 album Death Magnetic. It's a welcome addition. The string section supports Hetfield's melody in the verses before Metallica crashes into the chorus and later the orchestra provides an extra layer of drama to the song's frantic finale.

The track that receives the biggest make-over is All Within My Hands from the ill-fated St Anger. The frenetic nu-metal of the original is stripped away, allowing Hetfield to expose a fragile melody that was buried beneath the ballast.

No Leaf Clover, which debuted on S&M, returns on the sequel but in a far inferior state. Other Metallica tracks to receive a symphonic revision include the usual suspects - One, Master Of The Puppets, Nothing Else Matters, For Whom The Bell Tolls and Enter Sandman.

However, San Francisco Symphony's music director Michael Tilson Thomas never drifts far from the arrangements the late Michael Kamen delivered in 1999.

You cannot fault Metallica's live performance, they remain a spectacular beast almost 40 years after their formation, but the sequel is never as good as the original.


This story Metallica rehash past symphonic glories on S&M2 first appeared on Newcastle Herald.