S&M? No, fellows, those two letters don’t stand for a certain method of “love”, you might think of. The S stands for “Symphony” and the M stands for… guess what… you’re right, it’s METALLICA. The idea to combine METALLICA with a symphony orchestra is a brainchild of a certain Mr. Michael Kamen, who wrote the orchestral parts for this album and who moved the baton during the recordings as well. As METALLICA recorded the song “Nothing Else Matters” for their Black Album, this certain Mr. Kamen was also part of the recordings and that’s why he’s no dark horse for Mr. Hetfield & Co. As the name already says, the S stands for symphony and this symphony is performed by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
This double-CD starts off – what else could it be than this song – “The Ecstasy Of Gold”, which has its origin at the “Spaghetti Western” movie “The good, the bad and the ugly” by ENNIO MORRICONE. You can feel this certain symbiosis between Heavy Metal and classical music from the very beginning. “Master Of Puppets” (especially the intro) seems to have more power due to the orchestral production, as it already had at the Black Album. It would be a moot point to write about every certain song on its own, because everybody should at least know the “non-orchestral” version of those tracks. This album doesn’t only consist of “orchestral remakes”, but two songs have been written especially for “S&M”. One of those two is “No Leaf Clover”, which fits perfectly into the symphonic image. It starts off with some strings and a decent played guitar at the background. James’ expressive vocals and the decent strings are a great arrangement. The second song, which was written for “S&M”, is “Human”. This song also seems if it would have been written for a symphonic Rock band (or a rocking Symphony Orchestra) and not just for a Heavy Metal band. Great! Other highlights are the versions of “One”, “Enter Sandman”, “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. But it would be presumptuous to pick out certain tracks of this piece of art, as every single song has been arranged outstandingly.
Some might say that “S&M” means something like METALLICA’s ultimate arrival at the world of commerce. From my point of view, I respect the work and the efforts from both sides (by METALLICA, but especially by the Symphony Orchestra and Mr. Michael Kamen) a lot. I guess, you should take an open-minded step towards this album and you shouldn’t prejudice it. The reviews about this album are strongly varying in opinion, but my opinion goes into a certain direction: BUY IT!
(Online February 13, 2007)