Home » Mike Portnoy Reveals the Metallica Album That Doesn’t Quite Hit the Mark for Him

Mike Portnoy Reveals the Metallica Album That Doesn’t Quite Hit the Mark for Him

Mike Portnoy recently joined The Prog Report’s Wheel of Rock podcast, where he candidly shared his perspective on a particular Metallica album that doesn’t quite resonate with him.

The Prog Report’s unique series involves panelists spinning a wheel featuring a band’s albums and then ranking them from highest (‘S’) to lowest (‘D’). In the company of four others, they introduced three special albums and a ‘wild card’ to add an element of unpredictability to the rankings. Discussing Metallica’s live 1999 orchestral album ‘S&M,’ the drummer assigned it a ‘C’ in the tier rank, stating:

“I’m not the biggest fan of this, to be honest. I have no problem, obviously, with bands playing with orchestras. It seems like all the great bands have done it at this point.”

Examining Dissonance Within the Details

He elaborated on his dislike for the record, stating: “I wasn’t the biggest fan of Michael Kamen’s orchestrations. They sounded very dissonant. They didn’t align with the songs as much as I personally would have preferred. He was almost creating a counterpoint dissonant kind of string arrangement.” The musician went on to explain why his reception of the work was less than favorable:

“I understand why they did it. It’s a time-honored tradition for rock and metal bands to collaborate with an orchestra. I’ve done it with Dream Theater and Sons of Apollo. I just feel it missed the mark a little bit. Also, it was during the time of ‘Load’ and ‘Reload’ where I was just kind of checking out. So maybe it didn’t hit me as hard because my headspace in the late ’90s/early 2000s was different.”

Continuation of ‘S&M’ and Its Artistic Evolution

Later on, Metallica released ‘S&M2,’ serving as a sequel to their 1999 album ‘S&M.’ Recorded during a 2019 concert in San Francisco, the performance was also adapted into a movie, released on October 9, 2019. Reflecting on their goals for the second album in a 2020 discussion with Uproxx, Kirk Hammett shared:

“Well, we knew from the first album that there needed to be a balance, and finding that balance was a trick. With the first one, there wasn’t much of a precedent. The only precedent, really, that we can think of that was similar was the Deep Purple album [‘Concerto for Group and Orchestra’]. A concerto written for the London Philharmonic, but that was written in collaboration, and for symphony, and it was different on that behalf.”

The ‘S&M2’ concert, commemorating 20 years since the original ‘S&M’ album, took place and was recorded at Chase Center on September 6 and 8, 2019. Conductors Edwin Outwater and Michael Tilson Thomas led the symphony orchestra, and the event also marked the opening celebration of the Chase Center. Wayne Isham, who directed the first ‘S&M,’ filmed the concert. You can watch the video below.

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