At first the idea seemed brave, but fundamentally flawed. A symphony orchestra playing with Metallica ? Hmmm, a bit too Deeep Purple … surely it couldn’t be done successfully – after all, many have tried and failed. Would the men in black have to tone down their sound to suit the occasion and perhaps pull a punch or two to keep the high-brows happy? Would they hell! As you know, these ‘Metalliclassical’ concerts took place last April to great critical acclaim and this double live CD is the official record of the event.S&M is the sound of two spectacular musical forces working in perfect harmony. The presence of the orchestra has driven Metallica to even greater heights on the evidence of this performance. However, much of the credit for the final product must be due to Michael Kamen who has interpreted the Metallica live show perfectly and scored it with imagination, flair and ingenuity. At times the orchestration fits in so well you hardly notice it. Which is not to say the San Francisco Symphony sound timid. Not in the slightest. In fact on those tracks you might expect them to take a frightened backseat, such as ‘Fuel’ or ‘Battery’, they really make their presence felt. On the former they quite simply rock! To single out individual songs is pointless as the whole set is awesome. Suffice it to say that on those songs which allow them the space to work the orchestra sounds magnificent. Metallica’s performance is virtually flawless. The enormity of the occasion has resulted in a supercharged set. Each and every one of them play out of their skin. It’s as if they had decided that no orchestra was going to eclipse them on the night! Just a quick word on the sound quality which manages to bring the classical and hard rock disciplines together without compromising either. Everything sounds clean, clear and bright. The one casualty is Jason’s bass which at times is a little muted but Lars’ drums sound tremendous. In fact the whole mix leaps out of the speakers, so much so that on first listen it’s almost to much to take in. This release marks a milestone in the band’s career and is also deserved of noteworthy inclusion in the annals of rock history – it’s that good. No Metallica fan should be without this. Quite simply, I don’t know how Metallica are going to top this one – then again I think I might have said that when they released “….And Justice for All”.