Saturday, 30 July 2011

Symphony & Metallica (live)- Metallica

Metallica, when you think about it, are a really odd band. They started out doing thrash, but of the Big 4 took the most influence from prog, with so many riff changes and solos etc they pushed parody. Over the course of their career they’ve gone from brute force in the 80’s to primal ballads in the 90’s, then onto the bizarre nu-metal inspired rock on St. Anger and then again to full blown prog. They make a great band to get deeply into because a) they have so many great tunes everywhere and b)they’ve never stayed the same band for long. This process can take forever, but fortunately there is a short cut.
Symphony and Metallica can be considered a best of+ album because it takes their hits, makes them better and sorts some of their problems out. This is a live performance from 1999 of their biggest hits aswell as some of the more overlooked 90’s stuff accompanied by an orchestra.
Most bands would sound terrible in this arrangement but Metallica have such huge, ridiculous songs this approach makes the affects grander. The album opens with the classical performance of “The Ecstacy of Gold”, taken from the film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. This sets the scene perfectly with an epic, haunting sound. The set pounds into the bands thrash years. “Master of Puppets” sounds great with the added oomph the orchestra gives. From here on the album alternates slower 90’s stuff with hits until the roaring finally.
Unlike some live albums the sound quality is absolutely perfect, infact better in places than on the studio albums, for example Justice For All was a very poorly produced album which sounded tinny and indistinct. On this album “One” is preceded by an atmospheric pyro techniques display that sound like a warzone. Furthermore Hetfield’s vocals when he screams “No! No! No! NOOOOO!” are fantastic here and far exceed what he accomplished in the studio. Best of all is “Wherever I May Roam” which doesn’t fade out over the ending solo, which is utterly fantastic. If not the whole album then this recording alone is worth tracking down as it takes a fantastic song and improves it.
Solid Metallica fans will find a lot to enjoy here and first timers will save themselves a lot of time with this brilliant album.

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