Shunning arena pyrotechnics for a bemused San Francisco Symphony under the leadership of conductor Michael Kamen, Metallica adjourned to the Berkeley Community Theater in 1999 to see if their mega-heavy tunes could withstand an infusion of symphonic sophistication. While the merits of this collaboration (christened S&M for "Symphony and Metallica") are debatable, the previously released results are available again, this time on DVD, with several interactive options to please diehard fans.
And just what can they expect? There are additional versions of "Sad but True" and "Of Wolf and Man" that follow each band member exclusively, while a "Maestro Edit" of "No Leaf Clover" spotlights wild-eyed conductor/composer Kamen. A 41-minute documentary chronicles rehearsals of this grand experiment.
The most interesting feature here is the choice of several different audio mixes Metallica alone, the symphony alone, or both together, in stereo or in 5.1 surround sound. The band bleeds through caesuras in the orchestra-only version and vice-versa close to the way the musicians probably heard it onstage.
Without all those pesky violas and oboes in the way, the set's two new tunes, "No Leaf Clover" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Human" (RealAudio excerpt), stand up pretty well, though they don't seem quite so complete without Kamen's lush, appropriately ominous orchestrations. It's fun to check out what the 100-piece orchestra is doing during the speed-metal thrash of "Master of Puppets" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Battery." (Hint: "Puppets" sounds a bit like a shark attack.)