The Vinyl Word on... S&M2
“Same time next year” is the last thing that can be heard from the mouth of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich to the crowd at the end of the first “S&M” album, which was released in 1999. It’s very much a case of “better late than never” as “S&M2” arrives on multiple formats following its successful release last year. The album once again pairs Metallica with the San Francisco Symphony, making this a hometown show for the band whose roots in San Francisco go all the way back to the early 80s.
Metallica have never released a “greatest hits” album, in the traditional sense, but records like “S&M” and “S&M2” undoubtedly feature their most notable songs, albeit with a twist. For this performance, rather than just retread the original material again, the band have made a number of changes to ensure this is a fresh experience. Once again, it is a live concert to a sold out house, and some of the songs from the first go round are brought out, including but not limited to “Fuel”, “The Memory Remains”, “Master of Puppets”, “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman”. However we also get some material that the band released in the interim like “Moth Into Flame” and “Halo on Fire” from the most recent record “Hardwired…to Self Destruct” and “The Day that Never Comes” from “Death Magnetic” which get the orchestral treatment.
As well, in terms of new material, there are a couple of real surprises. An acoustic led version of “All Within My Hands” from “St. Anger” works even better than the original and really accentuates the lyrical content of the song that was missing in its original form. “The Unforgiven III” gets a rearrangement and in this version is just lead singer James Hetfield accompanied by the orchestra, most notable for the fact that it’s one of the very rare times you’ll see Hetfield singing without playing a guitar at the same time. There is a special arrangement of late bass player Cliff Burton’s bass solo from “Kill ‘Em All”, and the tables are turned when two classical pieces get put through the Metallica filter that makes for an interesting experiment if nothing else.
Visually, the live show is very different from the first time around. While the original was recorded in the Berkeley Community Theatre and had a traditional stage set up and was somewhat dimly lit, this new show emanates from the much larger, and brighter, Chase Centre which enables the band to play in the round with the orchestra. This extra space means the band can wander more, and interact more with the Orchestra which makes for a more interesting visual blend of band and orchestra.
Twenty one years ago, I bought the first “S&M” record from Metallica in a Golden Discs store. On the 28th of August, I’ll be doing it all over again.
These are the specialist and experienced words of our man Kevin Dillon.