Sound — 8
"Through the Never" is the name of the movie, the soundtrack, as well as a track from Metallica's "Black Album." Oddly enough, the song "Through the Never" doesn't appear on the soundtrack. When Metallica first planned the ambitious full-length movie project, "Metallica: Through the Never," a lot of people were very curious about what the band would come up with. Many assumed it would just be concert footage edited together, which it was with the twist of having a truly bizarre storyline running intermittently throughout the video. The soundtrack itself are some prime cuts of live tracks which were used in the film. The album consists of 16 tracks lasting over 100 minutes. The album opens with "The Ecstasy of Gold," which is appropriate as this has been their standard opener for years. Next up is a rousing rendition of "Creeping Death" which is only marred by a poorly recorded chorus provided by the audience members. Next up is "For Whom the Bell Tolls," which uses audience participation very briefly. The vocal reverb/delay used on the live version of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" is what really makes the track stand out, and the guitar solo seems to have a "freak out" moment by Kirk. "Fuel" is next, and oddly what I believe is a pyrotechnic going off in the first few seconds of the song provides an odd addition to the percussion. The performance of the song was energetic except for an odd instrumental stumble at about 45 seconds in, but the band did recovery very quickly. "Ride the Lightning" came up next, and went pretty well with the exception of James sounding like he couldn't remember some of the lyrics for a few seconds. "One" starts out using audio clips of explosions, helicopters and gunfire which goes on for almost 2 minute unaccompanied by any music until the opening riff finally comes in. "The Memory Remains" starts out with some "playful banter" with James and the crowd, but quickly builds to a very energetic performance with the most successful audience participation on the album. "Wherever I May Roam" was a pretty straightforward live performance with the audience singing the line "wherever I may roam" along with James. "Cyanide" is most notable for having a very awesome bass tone audible through most of the track and making me wonder what equipment/settings Robert was using. You can also tell that the band is way more used to playing this newer material, as their playing is tighter than on some previous tracks. "...And Justice for All" was next up, and while it would never stand up to the studio recording, and wasn't even completely accurate to the original, it was one of my favorite performances from the album. "Master of Puppets" was performed with a great surge of energy by the band and the audience's enthusiasm was contagious for me, as the listener. "Battery" is another track where the pyrotechnics provide some unexpected percussion, and for whatever reason James' vocals weren't working for me on this track. "Nothing Else Matters" started out with about two minutes of guitar noodling, that while interesting was also a little confusing as I tried to figure out what it was. By the time the actual intro to "Nothing Else Matters" came in, my brows were furrowed and I was checking my track listing to make sure I hadn't become confused, but then the performance was one of the better performances from the album. "Enter Sandman" was next up and started out with Kirk initially playing around too much with his wah pedal, but quickly turned into a very tight performance, pyrotechnics included. "Hit the Lights" starts out with some general noodling and banter with the audience but grows into another very energetic performance. The album closes out with a rendition of "Orion," managing to be both a very tight performance as well as having good energy - making it the perfect performance to close out the album.
Lyrics — 7
James Hetfield has very distinctive vocals, and unlike many other vocalists he generally gives a very good vocal performance live as well as in the studio. For the most part, this is true with this album with the exception of a few spots were his time seemed a little bit off or where he seemed to have trouble remembering lyrics. The forgiveness that goes along with this being a live album covers for most of these small mistakes. Something that might just be in my head is that his voice doesn't seem to be quite right for some of the older tracks anymore, but that is what comes from being an aging vocalist.
Overall Impression — 8
A live album is good for recreating the experience of the concert, probably especially for people actually present at that specific concert. Point being, you can't judge a live album the same way you judge a studio album. Mistakes are more forgivable. Energy is often a more important factor than how masterful the actual performance was. What you want from a live album is to be made to feel a part of the concert; to feel like you are there. That is something that was accomplished sometimes during the album, but not for the entirety. The bottom line is that as far as live albums go I've heard better and I've heard worse. Something that this live album did that many others having, however, is give me a strong nostalgic feeling remembering when I first heard Metallica, and also a long ago concert I attended as a teenager that has always stuck with me as one of my better memories.