S & M

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 2000 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 149:06 Other Extras Menu Audio & Animation 
Multi-Angle (4 songs, 5 angles per song) 
Featurette (40:12) 
Music Video-No Leaf Clover (Maestro Edit) 
Music Video-No Leaf Clover (Slice & Dice Edit) 
DVD-ROM Extras (Discography, Web Links)
RSDL/Flipper Disc 1: RSDL (38:58)
Disc 2: RSDL (53:42)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,3,4,5,6 Director Wayne Isham
Elektra Entertainment 
Warner Vision
Starring James Hetfield 
Kirk Hammett 
Lars Ulrich 
Jason Newsted 
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Case Boxed Super Jewel x 2
RPI $49.95 Music Metallica 
Michael Kamen

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital None
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s) 
English Band + Orchestra (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256Kb/s) 
English Band Only (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256Kb/s) 
English Orchestra Only (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English 
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

Plot Synopsis

    IN SHORT: Who'd a thunk it?

    Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra? Sounds impossible - the juxtaposition of heavy metal and classical music, seemingly opposite ends of the musical spectrum. Well, after watching Metallica: S&M, I can assure you that it is not impossible. The end result is simply jaw-droppingly stunning. The sheer power and majesty of the full San Francisco Symphony Orchestra combines seamlessly with the toned-down brute force of Metallica, with awesome and brilliant results.

    Probably the most impressive aspect of this entire concert is the magnificently seamless way in which Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra blend together. Neither overpower each other, but they complement one other superbly, with the end result being more than the sum of the parts. This is no doubt due to the brilliant work of Michael Kamen in orchestrating the Metallica songs, and no doubt due to the proper amount of rehearsal time being allotted to the two groups in order to mesh so effectively. There are numerous times throughout the performance when you can see members of Metallica and members of the orchestra break out into broad smiles and even punch the air from the sheer energy and exuberance of this performance. No doubt the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra has never played to a crowd quite so rambunctious as this one!

    When you consider the foregoing, it is worth bearing in mind that I am by no means a Metallica fan. In fact, I found Metallica: Cunning Stunts to be little more than loud noise, and subsequently have been desperately trying to avoid reviewing this DVD. Boy, was I glad that I finally made myself sit down and watch this performance!

    James Hetfield sums it up succinctly during his closing remarks; "Thanks to the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for having the balls to play with us". That says it all.

    Who'd a thunk it?

    For those that are concerned about such things, the track listing is as follows;
Disc 1 
1. The Ecstasy Of Gold 
2. The Call Of Ktulu 
3. Master Of Puppets 
4. Of Wolf And Man 
5. The Thing That Should Not Be 
6. Fuel 
7. The Memory Remains 
8. No Leaf Clover 
9. Hero Of The Day 
10. Devil's Dance 
11. Bleeding Me
Disc 2 
1. Nothing Else Matters 
2. Until It Sleeps 
3. For Whom The Bell Tolls 
4. - Human 
5. Wherever I May Roam 
6. Outlaw Torn 
7. Sad But True 
8. One 
9. Enter Sandman 
10. Battery 

Transfer Quality


    This is a reasonable video transfer of a live concert, filmed over the course of two nights, but it is not without its problems.

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was quite softly defined, particularly in the backgrounds, which often dissolved into a blurred and indistinct image. There was adequate detail revealed in the foregrounds of shots, but this is by no means a finely detailed transfer. The transfer was generally quite dark, although much of this is reflective of the way in which this concert was lit. Shadow detail is somewhat lacking, not helped at all by the generally quite dark lighting and mostly black that the main protagonists are wearing. Low level noise was thankfully absent from the transfer almost all of the time, but did creep into a few of the blacks from time to time.

    The colours were generally muted, other than the typically highly saturated blues and reds that are frequently an integral part of concert lighting. The blues tended to be somewhat poorly defined, with a significant loss of image resolution when blue was the sole lighting colour, and they were occasionally marred by some chroma noise.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen in this transfer, however, aliasing is plentiful. It happened whenever the camera panned across sharply-defined objects, such as the orchestra's music stands and the stage scaffolding. Whilst the aliasing was not severe at any point, it was quite noticeable and was frequently present, making it quite a distracting artefact. There is a slight video skip at 3:26 on Disc 2.

    Both discs are RSDL formatted. The first disc's layer change occurs at 38:58 and is quite distracting and noticeable, made all the more so by a brief fade-to-black. The second disc's layer change occurs at 53:42 and is much less noticeable.


    There are four audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Band + Orchestra), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Band Only) and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Orchestra Only). The Band Only and Orchestra Only tracks have a small amount of Orchestra and Band spill respectively, but are generally reasonably isolated.

    Inexplicably, the audio defaults to English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Band + Orchestra), and can only be changed by going to the main menu. The audio cannot be changed on the fly, an extremely irritating authoring choice, but one that is consistent with the previously released Metallica: Cunning Stunts. The non-alterable on-the-fly audio is made all the more irritating by the fact that the first time that you access the main menu, you need to sit through a lengthy animation before being able to change the audio setting. You need to do this twice; once for each DVD in this set.

    There is only one way to listen to this DVD; in glorious Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The 5.1 soundtrack is so superior to all the other soundtracks that it isn't funny.

    The vocals are nicely placed, generally in the centre channel, and are immaculately clear and beautifully separated from the rest of the audio. Despite this, they remain perfectly integrated with the rest of the mix, a feat that is not always achieved with 5.1 audio mixes. When appropriate, the vocals are spread aggressively into the other audio channels in a most pleasing fashion.

    The audio sync is somewhat problematic, and tends to wander in and out a little. Much of this is due to the combining of two nights of video footage with one night's audio, but Disc 2 is consistently slightly out of sync during tracks 6 and 7. This is the only blemish on an otherwise immaculate soundtrack, although I suspect that only the most sensitive viewers will notice this problem.

    The surround channels were magnificently utilized by this mix. This is how to do a 5.1 mix. Vocals, guitars, drums and orchestral instruments all had their clearly defined place in the soundscape and they all blended immaculately into an immensely powerful and impressive surrounding wall of sound. The resolution of this mix is second-to-none, with a remarkable lack of muddiness to the sound, despite the complexity of the mix. Sounds are placed aggressively throughout the soundfield, and the mixers who created this soundtrack were not afraid to place musical sounds in the rear soundfield, unlike many other 5.1 musical soundtracks that I have heard. Crowd noise has been placed more in the rear channels in order to separate it from the musical mix, but it remains tightly integrated with the overall mix.

    The .1 channel was used aggressively and constantly to support the music without ever become overbearing. It was superbly integrated into the overall sound mix and never once drew attention to itself, instead being perfectly blended with the rest of the sound mix.


    There are a goodly quantity of extras on these very well-presented DVDs.


Menu Audio & Animation

    The menus on these DVDs feature extensive animation and audio enhancement throughout. The only annoyance is going to the menu for the first time, which requires you to sit through quite a lengthy animation sequence. Fortunately, subsequent trips to the menu do not require you to sit through this tedious animation again. The general quality and presentation of these menus are excellent.

Multi Angle

    A total of 4 songs, 2 on each DVD, are encoded with 5 different camera angles. The songs thusly encoded are Of Wolf And Man, Fuel, Sad But True, and Enter Sandman. The 5 angles that can be chosen between are a standard edit of each song, and then edits focussing on James, Kirk, Lars and Jason.

    The video quality of Of Wolf And Man is relatively poor compared to the rest of the DVD.

Documentary - Metallica S & M

    This is a 41 minute documentary presented in Full Frame format with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is supposed to be a "fly-on-the-wall" style documentary, but it seems excessively short on actual meaty content and excessively long on shots of the band in various stages of semi-dress. The opening shot of Jason smashing a violin really distressed me, as it seemed totally out of place with the rest of the concert, where both groups of musicians respected each other. I would have been a lot happier if the violinist subsequently smashed a bass guitar, but sadly this did not occur.

Music Video - No Leaf Clover (Maestro Edit)

    This is simply the live footage of this song focussing on camera angles featuring Michael Kamen. I personally was fascinated with this footage, and in some ways was disappointed that the multi-angle songs did not feature an angle focussing on Michael Kamen, as he very much acted as a fifth member of Metallica.

Music Video - No Leaf Clover (Slice & Dice Version)

    This is a combination of the live audio of this song and a music video-style edited video stream.

DVD-ROM Extras

    These are essentially web links and a discography.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this DVD appear to be identically featured.


    Metallica-S&M is a magnificent DVD that even non-fans of Metallica would do well to check out.

    The video quality is reasonable, but could have been a little better.

    The audio quality is superlative, only denied reference status by some minor audio sync problems.

    The extras are copious and reasonable.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
20th July 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba 1200, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer