The Spinners

S&M (Metallica, 1999)

In American, Heavy Metal, Juno Barbra Streisand on January 14, 2010 at 5:42 am

Metallica was never a big sensation for me until I stumbled on S&M, an album dedicated to Metallica’s all-time greatest hits combined with Michael Kamen’s ingenious touch on the orchestra—something like Deep Purple’s take but not quite.

The album is divided into two CDs, each with eleven tracks. Sometimes it really takes a live concert CD that can make a band live up to the hype of their legend; and with S&M, Metallica passed it with flying colors. I absolutely love James Hetfield’s voice; all manly and gritty when needed, yet still manageable to croon a ballad. “Wherever I May Roam” and “Hero of the Day” prove that indubitably; his live voice beats his studio-recorded songs any time. I also have a particular fondness for “No Leaf Clover”, a single that the band had specifically written for the album, because of its powerful and enticing intro and flawless vocals.

But it’s teamwork, for sure. There’s Lars Ulrich whose arrogance and self-righteousness exude even through his drumbeats. For relentless evidence, just listen to “Fuel” and “Master of Puppets”. On the other hand, Kirk Hammett’s solos in “Enter Sandman” and “Outlaw Torn” are still intact and awe-inspiring in their intensity. Jason Newsted, a now-defunct Metallica member who has had enough rivalry among Hetfield and Ulrich, has managed several years of grudges and sneers with his signature bass lines. But of course, no one can replace Cliff Burton, and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” just proves that. (Too bad he already died even before I came to being) Even Dave Mustaine’s bitterness of getting sacked, which created Megadeth at the expense of continuous mudslinging, made Metallica’s success and downfall (see St. Anger) all sweeter.

S&M was meant as a tribute for the faithful fans as well as a collection of the band’s blood, toil, sweat and tears; but in the end, it also became a stepping stone and an introductory guide to nearly two decades of Metallica’s pregnant contribution to the world of heavy metal.

– Juno Barbra Streisand

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