It seemed like Metallica were running out of ideas at the end of the millennium. However, in 1999, they released S&M, a live collaboration between Metallica and maestro Michael Kamen's San Francisco Symphony. It was really a fantastic example of an alternative band expanding its horizons.
S&M, which means for Symphony and Metallica, wasn’t a pioneering achievement, but it was a rather cool experiment that produced an iconic album. The work features at least one selection from every studio album, as well as the two new pieces, “No Leaf Clover” and “Human,” for which Kamen wrote a harmonious orchestral score with over 100 musicians.
Kamen discovered Metallica when he worked with producer Bob Rock on an arrangment for an acoustic mix of the “Sad But True” single. Intrigued by the prospect of a full size collaboration, Kamen asked Metallica if they would be interested in playing a set of their themes along with his orchestra. The band agreed and provided Kamen with the track list they wanted to play. Kamen crafted a score for the songs that increased and enhanced the music with violin passages and military-like horn parts to accompany some of Metallica’s heaviest riffs. The band and orchestra debuted the program at two concert night. The shows were recorded in full, and Bob Rock mixed the best takes into the album.
After Kamen's passing in 2003, Metallica issued a statement:
“S&M was Michael's idea, Michael's brainchild. He said he had always felt that our music lent itself to collaboration with an orchestra. From the time he approached us with the idea at that first breakfast meeting in 1997, to the day after the final mixes were complete on the record and the DVD, through the performances in Berlin, New York, and Las Vegas, we enjoyed two extremely fun, challenging, and creative years together,”