Review Of S & M — 5 years ago
S & M is bombastic, pretentious, and wonderful. Michael Kamen’s orchestration works better over some of Metallica’s compositions than others, but it is never bad.
The band’s earlier progressive works are most suited to the symphonic treatment, where the orchestra can simply layer more complex counter-melodies over what is already an epic suite. This is most evident in the fantastic “The Call Of Ktulu”. In fact, it works so well that it is surprising no other purely instrumental pieces were used. “Orion” might have been a difficult choice, but “To Live Is To Die” would have been great.
The orchestra is also quite effective on “Master Of Puppets”, “Of Wolf And Man”, “One”, “Hero Of The Day”, and especially the response to the guitar solo’s call on “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. One of the new songs, “No Leaf Clover”, is excellent, while “- Human” is simply good. The rest of the tracks are less remarkable, but in every case the orchestra either adds a bit of sweetening to an already great song or revives one that was not especially interesting in the first place.
Critics will call all of this bloated excess, but for fans like me it is one of the greatest musical collaborations of the modern era. It is a terrible shame that Lars’s exclamation of “same time next year!”, heard at the end of “Battery”, did not come to pass.