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Metallica’s S&M2 Review

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Metallica & San Francisco Symphony S&M2 (2CD & DVD/Blu Ray). Blackened Recordings

“Working on this was an experience of a lifetime, from the opening discussions of stage design through the two unforgettable shows at The Chase Center. My deepest thanks and appreciation go to James, Lars, Kirk and Rob, team Metallica, Bruce Coughlin, Greg Fidelman, Michael Kamen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Scott Pingel and my entire SF Symphony family. Everyone was game, and the music soared.” Edwin Outwater (Conductor)

“I was very happy to put them in contact with one of the most creative arrangers in the business, Bruce Coughlin, and with my colleague conductor, Edwin Outwater, who became the prime musical mover of the symphonic side of the project…Months later, my very first rehearsal of anything was the one I had just with the band a few weeks before the forces all came together. I’m very happy to have been a part of the project and have the chance to experience the energy and joy that the band and their fans share.” Michael Tilson Thomas (Conductor & Musical Director San Francisco Symphony)

“As the orchestra share the first notes of ‘The Ecstacy Of Gold’ and we stride into the arena, the raw meaning of the endeavor reaches a climactic new level of purpose, namely connection…connection to the music, to the players, to the fans, to the city, and above and beyond, to each other. Yes indeed…It is intense. It’s way beyond fucking intense. And I love every second of it.” Lars Ulrich (Metallica)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRCLe6_kBRc&feature=youtu.be

https://www.metallica.com/sm2/

For All Available Formats and Background: http://www.shakenstir.co.uk/live/metallicas-new-sm2-live-lp/

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Review

20 years ago the genius Michael Kamen produced the first S&M and it was mind-blowing. S&M2 is even better more atmosphere from a venue custom-made for the show, and an audience playing an even more major supporting role. Lord knows how it’s possible to record band, 80-piece orchestra and audience all at once without creating one helluva mess, but miracles do happen, and they certainly happened here. Whatever your taste in music, you have to own this, for the musical experience of your lives. It’s that beautiful, it’s that simple, it’s that historic…And for pity’s sake, buy hard copy with the movie to get the full impact of this extraordinary musical event.

The venue is of primary importance here. It’s represented by several concentric circles - the first outer circles (and in several soaring tiers) house the audience. The second houses the 80-piece orchestra while the central circle accommodates the band. It’s effectively an amphitheatre with a seating capacity of over 18,000, and in the movie it looks full to capacity. Above the central band circle there are a series of circular screens which throughout show videos and stills. The overall effect is magical with both lighting and sound of the highest order.

The first CD opens with the roar of the crowd before Morricone’s ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold’ quietly slips out complete with audience vocal chorus and cheers. The orchestral climax is reached before the audience scream out again to greet the band who play the initial gentle opening chords of ‘The Call Of Ktulu’ which build with Ulrich’s primal drumming dominating and the orchestra giving full voice as the song inevitably builds and explodes. The magnificent, familiar guitar riffs then enter in the best Metallica style as the rush to the finishing line starts and ends with a drumming flourish to beat all drum flourishes. And this is just the start of over two hours of the finest symphonic rock you’ll ever hear!

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Then seamlessly comes the instrumental intro to ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and the first Hetfield vocal of the night with accompaniement from some 18,000 fans. ‘The Day That Never Comes’ offers some initial sonic respite with brass coming to the fore before mellow guitar notes arrive accompanied by the steady beat of those brilliant drums. Hetfield’s vocal is super-expressive and as clear as a bell. Then comes one of many special moments when Hetfield asks the audience to “Let’s show the symphony how loud you can get” during ‘The Memory Remains’. And they oblige with a vocal chorus which almost never ends with both band and orchestra smiling at the response. ‘Confusion’ meets with another major crowd response. Hetfield then asks, “Shall we play some more? Well we’re going to anyway.” The frantic pace of ‘Moth Into Flame’ is followed by the opening jagged orchestral vibe of ‘The Outlaw Torn’ followed by the familiar and wonderful tones of classic ‘No Leaf Clover’. After the diverse pace and vibe of ‘Halo On Fire’ Hetfield announces a short break…

CD2 opens with Ulrich welcoming and thanking the symphony’s musical director who in turn introduces the orchestra’s rendition of Prokofiev’s ‘Scythian Suite, Opus 20: The Enemy God And The Dance Of The Dark Spirits’ which the director explains is a mix of classical amd metal. The audience love it! It’s followed by Mosolov’s ‘The Iron Foundry, Opus 19′ which is explained as industrial, metal and the future. This time the band join in with one of the joint performances of the night. ‘The Unforgiven III’ offers 8 minutes of gentler respite as does the moving and beautiful ‘All Within My Hands’. Then another special moment when symphony bassist Scott Pingel is introduced by Hetfield to play an homage to Cliff Burton, an American musician and songwriter, best known as the bassist for Metallica from December 1982 until his death in September 1986 in a coach crash while the band was on tour. The song is called ‘(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth’ which was written by Burton. Pingle played solo for the first half of the song before joined by Ulrich’s drums. It was unforgettable and very moving.

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More of the band’s best and most popular songs followed including ‘Wherever I Roam’, One’, ‘Master Of Puppets’ (co-written by Burton), ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and finally ‘Enter Sandman’. I then turned to the included DVD and was blown away by its quality and the vision of the band, orchestra and audience basically playing as one. As musical experiences go S&M2 I believe is better than the original and is without doubt one of the major rock performances of all time. Put simply, you all need this in your collection, it’s essental.

5/5

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