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Better than S&M - 60%

Vim_Fuego, August 7th, 2004

This is one of those hard ones to decide on. OK, so it's Metallica tunes, but played by a cello quartet? Have Monty Python gotten back together? Surely, this takes the piss!

But no, here it is, and it doesn't sound half bad. Four Finnish guys, looking like Amorphis' roadcrew, sawing away at antique instruments (one was made in 1738!), and producing some of the most bizarre interpretations of these songs you will ever hear. And it's just cellos — no percussion, no guitars, no singing, and no amplification.

Without the drums and the amps, some songs, and parts of songs, simply do not work. "Enter Sandman" is a prime example. It is too simplistic to do cellos justice. The introductory riff to "Harvester Of Sorrow" also sounds wrong. However, as that particular song progresses, each instrument plays a different guitar line, while one follows the vocal harmony. The end product is something which sounds like a modernist avant–garde Classical composition.

However, Metallica did include classical guitar elements in some of their songs, which do work with cellos. The intricacies of the middle passage of "Master Of Puppets" are given new life. The plucked strings and melancholic introduction to "The Unforgiven" also work well, but then go down the toilet once the vocal melody kicks in. "Sanitarium" is probably the best of the bunch, as Apocalyptica's interpretation is sensitive at times, but then also as heavy as you're ever going to hear four cellos get, unless they fall on your head.

On a whole, this is a novelty album, plain and simple. It also shows that no matter how good they are/were at penning memorable metal anthems, Metallica and classical music just don't mix. It also shows Apocalyptica are incredibly talented at what they do, as some of the material they have to work with is decidedly mediocre. This is an album for Metallica enthusiasts who enjoyed 'Load' and 'Re–Load', and can stomach 'S&M'. For everyone else, it is of curiosity value only.