The Intimate Anatomy of Metallica’s “Orion”

An instrumental composition has equally as compelling a story as any song would. Often, a musical piece conveys a meaning that is significantly more profound than stanzas, couplets, and refrains. Such compositions are many, but one stands out in particular. “Orion”, the melodic metal epic by (who else?) Metallica feels like an intimate snapshot of courtship. Let’s embark on an eargasmic journey by looking at the album recording, part by part.

Cliff’s bass fade-in (0:01-0:57) plants the seeds of attraction. The bass depicts an object of desire.

James’ rhythm guitar and Cliff’s bass (0:57-1:42) sets the stage for *getting to know you*. The guitar dominates the initial conversation, eager to share their story and make a pitch as to why they are the ideal partner.

Cliff’s bass (1:43-2:13) beautifully reciprocates. The charming overtures have made an impression.  

James’ guitar relentlessly continues to woo Cliff’s bass (2:14-2;56).

Kirk’s lead guitar (2:57-3:58) releases the pursued partner’s inhibitions. They resonant notes evoke candidness and ease, wherein the partner is willing and ready to engage in a relationship. James’ bass subtly, reassuringly, sings along. The couple is in tune. They yearn to connect. They are confident in their decision.

Cliff’s bass (4:00-4:17) is a prelude to complete, unadulterated intimacy. 

Kirk’s and James’ guitar harmonies (4:18-4:56) accelerate the passion and longing. The tone is intense yet gentle. 

Kirk’s guitar solo (4:57-5:37) exudes an elegant yet raw desire that fills every fiber of their being.

Kirk’s and James’ harmonies (5:38-6:16) ease into a tantric rhythm.

Kirk’s guitar  (6:17- 6:35) elicits notes of an insatiable urge. The crescendo is an energy flowing throughout. James’ guitar and Cliff’s bass encourage further anticipation, teasing the moments to come. 

Cliff’s bass sings in ecstasy, as the climax builds and finally unleashes. (6:36- 6:44).

Cliff’s bass and Kirk’s guitar harmonize, signifying the lovers’ unity in the moment (6:45-6:54).

Kirk’s guitar solo shouts out to the world about the melodic consummation. The bass concurs in a more subdued yet confident manner. (6:55-7:31).

The fade-out (7:37-8:27) confirms the courtship as a lasting relationship. 

No lyrics needed. The music tells all.