Not only is Metallica’s S&M2 a sonic triumph, it’s a middle finger pointed in the direction of people who think that heavy metal is just noise.
Since the dawn of heavy music people have ridiculed it and resigned it to a punchline only followed by a relatively small but devoted fan-base. S&M2, the follow up to 1999’s S&M, sees Metallica once again teaming up with the San Francisco Symphony and proving that heavy metal is so much more than just music for angry people.
The album opens just as its predecessor did, with a hair-raising rendition of Italian composer Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold” which then bleeds into a rousing performance of “The Call of Ktulu”.
Alongside staples such as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Enter Sandman” – which brings a spine-chilling end to the show – we see more recent additions to Metallica’s catalogue such as “The Day That Never Comes” and St. Anger’s “All Within My Hands” which starts off well enough but ends up running out of steam halfway through.
The highlight for me, though, comes after the interval with “Scythian Suite, OP. 20” and “The Iron Foundry” (the intros of which aren’t essential listening but do give useful insight).
In the former the San Francisco Symphony get their time to shine as they expertly capture the essence of a formidable, debauched group of ancient nomadic tribes, the masterful guidance of conductor Edwin Outwater leading them through Sergei Prokofiev’s composition while the latter sees Metallica take the stage again to give Alexander Mosolov’s futurist composition a menacing edge and, in doing so, create a soundtrack for our times.
Through the years Metallica have helped keep heavy metal on the fringes of the commercial music scene so it’s only fitting that they should, once again, remind the world that heavy music is as deserving of respect as any other genre.