Harps,violins and flutes usually aren’t the first instruments that come to mind whenpeople think of Metallica. On their latest release, “S & M,” the bandexperiments with a new sound, playing their greatest hits with the San FranciscoSymphony Orchestra. Surprisingly, the combination works well. Metallica isn’t thefirst rock band to try this, but succeeds where others have failed. Metallica’smusic is epic and symphonic to begin with, so the orchestra and the bandcomplement each other perfectly. Michael Kamen, conductor of the San FranciscoSymphony, said, “Metallica’s music is always a story. Adding an orchestrawas like writing a film score to that story.”
Recorded live during twoperformances last year, the double CD opens with the Symphony playing “TheEcstasy of Gold,” the theme from the film “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”Metallica joins the Symphony in “The Call of Ktulu,” an instrumental,followed by an amazing rendition of “Master of Puppets.” The best tracks aremore recent Metallica songs, such as “Devil’s Dance” and “The OutlawTorn.”
The older songs are far from disappointing. A new, theatrical feelis added to “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “One,” and lead singer JamesHetfield shows his versatility from the high-energy “Enter Sandman” to thesoothing “Nothing Else Matters.”
Although mainly a greatest hitsalbum, “S & M” includes two previously unreleased songs. “No LeafClover” shows that despite Metallica’s 17 years of writing music, the band hasnot lost the ability to produce an epic song, though listening to Hetfield growlout lyrics can be downright frightening on “Minus Human.”
“S& M” is much more than greatest hits; it is a good addition to any Metallicacollection. Some fans say the band has lost their edge in recent years, but thisCD is proof they’ve refined it.