http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/63a475b3ad782eed09a72539e16ecb8ab5503f4f.jpg S&M



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5 3 0
January 20, 2000

Metal warhorse Metallica invite the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra over and create the most crowded, ceiling-rattling basement rec room in rock. If the point of nestling Metallica's massive crunch inside a muscular swirl of chugging strings and ominous winds is sheer awesomeness, then S&M, the live performance, succeeded. But S&M, the two-CD record of that performance, sounds like an artifact from the faux-satanic, light-and-fog age of classic metal — pompous, humorless and too weighty for even James Hetfield's considerable presence. The band found the right composer and arranger in Michael Kamen (as his liner notes show, he loves exclamation points!), who has the strings sawing away manfully during such Dungeons & Dragons fantasies as "Of Wolf and Man," "Enter Sandman" and the great "Human." Speedy tunes ("Fuel") and ballads ("Hero of the Day") bog down miserably, but since Metallica traffic chiefly in symphonic bombast anyway, the monster numbers benefit from supersizing. The effect is more one of timelessness than progression — with or without the symphony, Metallica will always rule that basement.

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