ALBUM REVIEW: Metallica – S&M2

Release Date: August 28th 2020
Label: Blackened Recordings


From literally all of the drama surrounding ‘St. Anger’ to the bewildering ‘Lulu’ project with the late Lou Reed, fans of thrash metal icons Metallica have been asked to put up with a lot.

On the other hand, both 2008’s ‘Death Magnetic’ and 2016’s ‘Hardwired… To Self-Destruct’ were more than enough to evidence that the band could still deliver some thirty years on. You just had to catch them on a good day.

With all this in mind, ‘S&M2’ seems poised to reignite the fuel (get it?) to the passion of their fans. With a strategic blend of classic and latter-day material, the set curation sees only the essential tracks from the preceding ‘S&M’ making a return, with ample room provided for some of the strongest of their 21st century output, including ‘The Day That Never Comes’, ‘Moth Into Flame’, and ‘The Unforgiven III’.

There’s also an inspired inclusion of the group’s instrumental work, with ‘The Call Of Ktulu’ and the Cliff Burton-penned ‘(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth’ appearing, as well as epic renditions of classic compositions from composers Sergei Prokofiev and Alexander Mosolov, which form some of the most thrilling, theatrical, and grandiose moments of the entire set.

Performance-wise, James Hetfield denies his veteran age of fifty-seven, carrying every track with the same energy and professional consistency he exuded twenty years prior. Musically, the entire band is on top form, which is to be expected from one on the biggest metal groups to ever exist. It’s how they gel with their accompanying musicians, however, that’s truly commendable.

With conductor Edwin Outwater stepping in for the late Michael Kamen, the fusion of conflicting styles from the S(ymphony) and M(etallica) sound as equally bold and seamless as before. Neither outshines or detracts from the other, with impeccable mixing throughout the extensive near-two and a half-hour run-time.

It would’ve been utterly disappointing if ‘S&M2’ failed to deliver. Thankfully, it’s the most potent and revitalised that Metallica have sounded in years, totally eclipsing the head-scratching, underwhelming 2013 concert film, ‘Through The Never’.

As of now, ‘S&M2’ stands as the highest grossing rock concert-movie ever, which to accomplish almost four decades into your career is immensely impressive. With an intimate inclusive atmosphere, crisp live production, and a vast, career-spanning, subversive set, elevated by an excellent collaborative orchestral performance, it’s really no surprise why. A worthy addition to the limited community of projects whose sequels are as strong as their predecessors.