Metallica's S&M2 album is officially out. One of the defining moments of the live album that features the band alongside the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra is "The Unforgiven III," where James Hetfield stands onstage alone, singing only with orchestral accompaniment.

It's a powerful, stirring moment and a testament to Metallica's willingness to take bold risks and experiment, as if playing metal with a symphony orchestra wasn't already outgoing enough on its own.

Always looking to innovate, Hetfield, while promoting the release on radio, said, "I thought since we're doing this [live album with a symphony orchestra] for a second time, let's make this a little different. Certain things ended up being a lot more highlighted and we were less fearful of trying new things."

As for "The Unforgiven III," which first appeared on 2008's Death Magnetic, he explained, "I just wanted to strip it way, way down — not have any of the band in it at all and just me singing with the symphony. I thought that would be really challenging and it certainly was. It's probably the most nervous I've been in my life, getting up there and doing that and connecting eyes and everyone just kind of going, 'Okay it's going to be fine, here we go.' And after it's done the rest of the band is high-fiving. It was very, very encouraging."

"Absolutely incredible," praised drummer Lars Ulrich.

"He brought it," he continued, "and also not having the band and the wall of sound envelop him made him sort of vulnerable and I think that's where that song connects in the greatest way possible. It was awesome and I'm happy that he was up for it and the fact that it came together and I think it was the right song for the right moment with the right lyric and the right vibe and so that came together so well. I was actually down in the audience for that huddling and hanging out with the whole crew of Metallica fans. It was a very emotional moment."

Guitarist Kirk Hammett was especially delighted by the performance, saying, "It was a real treat."

"It's very rare where we're actually playing a show and we can actually watch part of the show. (laughs) That was an opportunity where the three of us actually got to watch a Metallica show because we weren't part of the festivities at that point," the guitarist went on, echoing Ulrich's sentiments.

"It was great to see James sing a capella with the orchestra. I thought he did an amazing job. I could tell that he really, really wanted it to be as best as he possibly could make it and I think that he pulled it off," he boasted.

"The Unforgiven III" was especially noteworthy for Hammett, who was dazzled by the symphony orchestra working in harmony to recreate his guitar solo. "It was also really, really great to hear the guitar solo of 'The Unforgiven III' being played spread out over 70-plus instruments," he beamed, noting, "That was a treat for me. It was actually overwhelming because there were so many instruments playing my guitar solo I didn't know what to listen to at any given point. I can't wait for the initial release. I'm going to listen to 'The Unforgiven III' nonstop I think."

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

Listen to "The Unforgiven III" below.

Continuing the spirit of the S&M2 album, Metallica have even worked on an orchestral version of their hit "Nothing Else Matters" for Disney's upcoming Jungle Cruise movie.

Metallica, "The Unforgiven III" From S&M2

See Metallica in the Most Performed Songs by 50 of Metal's Biggest Bands