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Metallica - 1999 S&M

ARTIST: Metallica
LABEL: Vertigo (UK, Europe), Elektra (USA)
SERIAL: 542 216-2, 62504-2
YEAR: 1999


LINEUP: James Hetfield - vocals, guitars * Kirk Hammett - guitars * Jason Newsted - bass * Lars Ulrich - drums * Michael Kamen - conductor: San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Ecstasy of Gold * 02 The Call of the Ktulu * 03 Master Of Puppets * 04 Of Wolf And Man * 05 The Thing That Should Not Be * 06 Fuel * 07 The Memory Remains * 08 No Leaf Clover * 09 Hero Of The Day * 10 Devil's Dance * 11 Bleeding Me * 12 Nothing Else Matters * 13 Until It Sleeps * 14 For Whom The Bell Tolls * 15 Human * 16 Wherever I May Roam * 17 Outlaw Torn * 18 Sad But True * 19 One * 20 Enter Sandman * 21 Battery


If you were ever looking for a contradiction then this album has all the potential for it. A symphony orchestra and Metallica? Standing back however, you will find that Metallica have always been more about music than anything else. When other bands defined themselves with antics, makeup, lifestyles and other gimmicks, Metallica tended to let the music do the talking and cut through the crap. These were the black T-shirt boys without all the commercial stuff. Following on from the eighties, Metallica have managed to develop from being one of the heaviest metal bands through to a band staying true to their roots but managing to evolve with that added maturity (a.k.a. old age) bringing value and depth. While some purists may have questioned their values as to why they cut their hair, that this album was perhaps ultimate proof that they were selling out for the dollars, to me Metallica have managed to reach a new plateau with 'S&M'. Though this is not the ultimate Metallica album, it is something for them to be proud of. Metallica don't sway from what they are all about, there is little softening of their style, the orchestra only adds what could have been keyboards if Metallica were an AOR band (hazard the thought Ed!). The orchestra adds contrast, depth and variation but never subtracts from the Metallica sound.

The Songs
Metallica show their strength with a 20 track 2 CD album that spans material from all their albums. Classics like 'The Call Of Ktulu' and 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' from 'Ride The Lightning' Metallica's second album impress as much as the two previously unreleased tracks 'Human' and 'No Leaf Clover'. Michael Kamen must have influenced these two as he wrote, conducted and helped produce the album. He also offers the poor orchestra the best opportunity to make an impression amongst the power of Metallica.

In Summary
This album is without doubt an experimental album, and like most albums of this type is not perfect. There are places where the orchestra softens the Metallica aggression far too much and places where Metallica swamps the orchestra into oblivion. But all in all there are some moments that lift the quality to a far higher level than one would expect. Again an album those loyal Metallica fans will enjoy, and new fans will find a perfect starting point.

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