As a film, Through the Never is a summation of everything Metallica represents: the vitriol, the sheer power, the darker side of life. It’s a concert film with a plot, which follows a young roadie who’s sent on a dangerous mission during one of the band’s shows. This quest is interspersed with actual footage taken from concerts Metallica played last August. Sure, it sounds kinda hokey, but there’s never been a music-related movie quite like it (and early reviews are positive).
In addition to being the biggest heavy metal band in existence, Metallica are tactful businessmen, so, naturally, they released an accompanying soundtrack alongside the film. This two-disc set will undoubtedly sell well, and it’s release is a sensible, obvious decision. Technically, it is the movie’s soundtrack; however, as standalone LP taken out of the context of the film, it’s just a well-produced live recording.
But, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Metallica is a different beast live, so for anyone unfamiliar with their stage persona, this soundtrack is a treat. James Hetfield’s rapport with the audience is that of a man who’s been doing it for three decades, letting the crowd sing the refrains of “Creeping Death”, hyping them up during raucous songs (“Fuel”, “Hit the Lights”), and ignoring them entirely during the lone ballad, “Nothing Else Matters” — the strongest rendition here. Lars Ulrich bashes his drums to pieces and leaves not a single stray beat or cymbal crash. Even bassist Robert Trujillo’s background vocals/grunts add new flavor to old songs. Only Kirk Hammett goes through the motions. Although his guitarwork isn’t unpleasant, it’s just…there, passable but sterile.
For those trying to relive Through the Never, this soundtrack hits the spot, following the precise chronological usage of the songs in the film. For everyone else, it’s pretty pointless, as these versions fall short of the excellent ones included on 1993’s Live Shit: Binge & Purge, and sound especially redundant considering Metallica dropped live album Quebec Magnetic last year. It’s very much “your mileage may vary,” though the band can’t be faulted for releasing it, because honestly, who wouldn’t? It’s free money, and Through the Never will likely be remembered as the biggest (and certainly most expensive) heavy-metal film of all-time.
Essential Tracks: “Creeping Death”, “Nothing Else Matters”