Metallica: James Hetfield (vocals, guitar); Kirk Hammett (guitar); Jason Newsted (bass); Lars Ulrich (drums).
Additional personnel: Michael Kamen (conductor); The San Francisco Symphony.
Engineers: Bob Rock, Randy Staub, Stephen P. McLaughlin.
Recorded live at the Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, California on April 21 and 22, 1999. Includes liner notes by Michael Kamen.
"The Call Of Ktulu" won the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
As the strains of Ennio Morricone's "The Ecstacy of Gold" filled the Berkeley Community Theater, metal heads and classical music enthusiasts were both in for a special evening--where many previous rock/classical collaborations had failed, Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony delivered the goods.
"The Call of Ktulu," a track that had never before been performed live, was fated for a debut such as this. The epic instrumental, given added depth by the charts of Michael Kamen (who succeeds in putting a new spin on the band's material as he did on Metallica's self-titled 1991 release), is nothing short of bombastic. The same applies to the speed-metal classic "Master of Puppets." "Hero of the Day" works very well, with its melodic tone enhanced by the symphony. Two new songs are debuted on S&M, "No Leaf Clover" and "Human," tracks that will make for an interesting comparison to their studio versions. The anti-war anthem "One" seems as if it had been made for the classical treatment it receives here. The balance among guitar, drums, strings, and brass makes for a winning sound. Chalk up one more for the band that continues to go against the grain.
Rolling Stone (1/20/00, pp.57-9) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...creates the most crowded, ceiling-rattling basement rec room in rock....[in its] sheer awesomeness...the performance succeeds....the monster numbers benefit from supersizing. The effect is...one of timelessness..."
Spin (2/00, pp.114-5) - 8 out of 10 - "...makes their tempo and texture dynamics...into a topic in and off of itself, a deep evocation of bad-voodoo creeping willies culminating in 'One' and 'Enter Sandman'....Freed from ritualized superhuman extremism, it builds a soundtrack to everyday life..."
Entertainment Weekly (12/3/99, p.102) - "...Buttressed by grim strings, creaky horns, and thundering timpani, staples...creep with fearful new dimension, like an old Posada print come to life..." - Rating: B
Q (2/00, p.86) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...another just about forgivable flirtation with [Spinal] Tap-esque lunacy....a fine hit-heavy live LP with bolted-on bombast fromthe S.F. Symphony....Michael Kamen's scores swoop and soar with impressive portent throughout..."
Q (Summer/01, p.127) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...A creditable experiment with the San Francisco Symphony..."
CMJ (12/20/99, p.24) - "...stunning....orchestral renditions of hits from the bands '90s output..."