Orion

Album: Master Of Puppets (1986)
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  • This epic instrumental runs 8:12. It is named after the constellation Orion, as parts of the song evoke a night sky. Lars Ulrich called it "Nine minutes of ever-changing, mind-provoking weird-and-wonderfulness."
  • Metallica bass player Cliff Burton died on September 27, 1986 when the band's tour bus went off the road (the album was released March 3, 1986). Burton had cited "Orion" as one of his favorite Metallica songs, along with "Master Of Puppets." He had a big part in writing the song (along with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich), and his performance on the track is regarded as one of the best of his career. The song was played at his funeral on October 7th, 1986.
  • Cliff Burton's bass section was the starting point for this song. "Cliff came up with a very different-sounding piece to anything we'd done before," Ulrich explained in Creem. "To me it sounded like a Swedish folk song. We really liked listening to it and playing it, so we just based the whole song around that middle part."
  • Metallica played bits of this song at live shows throughout their career, but it wasn't until June 3, 2006 at the Rock Am Ring festival in Germany when they finally played the whole song live in concert.
  • Cliff Burton used his bass in such a way that there are two bass solos in this song that are commonly confused as guitar solos. The first begins at 1:42 and continues on until 2:13. The second is found much later in the song after the bass Interlude. It begins at 6:36 and continues until 6:55. The opening sounds were achieved by Cliff using a wah wah pedal on his bass. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    JT - Tullahoma, TN, for above 3
  • The album was recorded in Copenhagen with Flemming Rasmussen, who owned the studio, serving as engineer and co-producer. In a Songfacts interview with Rasmussen, he talked about recording "Orion":

    "That was starting at one thing and then working through, and getting it done. It was actually really fulfilling, because it started to sound better and better. It wasn't hard getting the performance - it was more deciding which kind of performance we wanted."

    Regarding Cliff Burton's bass parts, he added: "He had more or less all of the ideas himself, and he perfected them in the studio."
  • James Hetfield has the notes for the bass part in the middle of the song tattooed on his left arm. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Zander - Los Angeles, CA
  • This is the only track on the Metallica Through the Never soundtrack that was not recorded live from the 2012 Canadian shows at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, on August 17 and 18 and Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, on August 24, 25 and 27. Instead, it was recorded live at soundcheck. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
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Comments: 40

  • Zero from Nowhere, NjWell, as a lot of people know by now, Cliff started out as a classically-trained pianist. My friend told me he thought that would Cliff had stayed alive, they eventually would have incorporated pianos into their music (an interesting thought; not a bad thing in my book). BTW we both saw them at Yankee Stadium last year (with the Big 4) and played this song, except they did it a little differently; Rob played the second half of Kirk's 2nd solo on the bass while Kirk played Cliff's solo on the guitar. They dedicated the song to Cliff.
  • Ryan from River Vale, Nja true masterpiece of a song/instrumental, very powerful and moving. You can easily tell that Cliff wrote the vast majority of "Orion" when you analyze it's song structure... very-well organized from beginning to end and written entirely within a "Diatonic-Modal framework". Intro riff is in E Aeolian (natural minor), the last of bar of which (before the riff repeats) features an Authentic Cadence from the Dominant V chord (B) to the tonic (Em) by raising the leading-tone/7th from D to D#, which arises from the E Harmonic Minor mode. Then modulates to E Phrygian in the next section (where you hear the distorted bass), and back to the first prog. up until the Bridge, which is in F# Aeolian... man, I could go on.
  • Hildy from Los, CaNamed my first son after this song!! Good times!
  • Jarrod from Adelaide, AustraliaVery nice story there Shingami, but i've seen it before and i said that time as well as this time you can't be locked up in a Sanitarium. A sanitarium is a voluntary mental hospital, so they can't lock you up in one
  • Shingami from Lusaka, ZambiaOk I am a big metallica fun and I came up with this little story based on the titles of metallica songs. the titles are in capital letters.


    I park my 2*4 and step out, home at last but I'm in a FRANTC state thinking about my narrow ESCAPE. I get into the house and I drink some of my WHISKEY in a JAR but that doesn't ease the pain clearly caused by the THORN WITHIN. At this point even i know the only solutions to deal with the STRUGGLE WITHIN. In the SMALL HOURS of the morning I stare into the dark night and see ORION, but now is not the time to think about ASTRONOMY the pain is too much it feels like I'm TRAPPED UNDER ICE yet I cant seem to convince myself that its my fault, betrayed by who i thought was a friend and betrayed by THE JUDAS KISS now I go towards my bed in this old rugged house, how am I supposed to sleep in THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT after I shot him between the eyes and left him STONE DEAD FOREVER and at that point it felt like NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. I close my eyes and try to sleep hoping it will all just FADE to BLACK but THE MEMORY REMAINS clear to me that I will always be UNFORGIVEN and it worries me because the things i just did make me wonder AM I EVIL. This cant be I was raised right how did I turn to this BAD SEED I know what I did was wrong but I can't feel it, it's like I am on ANESTHESIA.

    I had lost my mind when I decided it was KILLING TIME, I ran around taking them all out high on drugs I believed I was the INVISIBLE KID and the opponents I took out one by one where DISPOSABLE HEROES. I can't sleep so I stay up looking at the DIRTY WINDOW and start to think maybe its time I DISAPPEAR because right now I am CREEPING DEATH at any point the cops and feds will be all over looking for me. For so long I looked forward to exerting my revenge but that day seemed to be THE DAY THAT NEVER COMES nothing hurts more than taking the life of your BROTHERS IN ARMS. The pain was too much yet still I feel like the HERO OF THE DAY and I decided not to think about what others thought of me after all to the one who I was revenging I would always be the perfect PRINCE CHARMING her LOVERMAN as was the case when she lived and everyone else called me KING NOTHING. As my nerves began to calm I remember what MAMA SAID about salvation forgiveness trusting in God and THE FOUR HORSEMEN but I will not pray to THE GOD THAT FAILED seeing as he let my loved one die she truly was MY FRIEND OF MISERY so I decide to live the rest of my life with NO REMORSE.

    Knowing my fate as I step into the bathroom that bottle of CYANIDE seems appealing but I will not give up I will FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE. Arrested I find myself locked in a SANATARIUM because the cops couldn't believe any normal person could do what I did. The DEVILS DANCE is what they called it and maybe this is where I would spend the rest of my days on THE FRAYED ENDS OF SANITY. A brilliant mind I don't deserve to be here but what i did deserves to be punished and that is SAD BUT TRUE. At this rate I don't think even a priest can PURIFY my soul. I think of to myself POOR TWISTED ME but I decide to not have self pity because when it comes to who killed those men I will always be the ONE. From a mother's boy RONNIE went on to become a killer and sometimes I would think SO WHAT right until the judge decided i would RIDE the LIGHTENING. I know I am SOME KIND of MONSTER but do I really deserve to die. The judge is not letting me off easy as he proclaims THAT WAS JUST YOUR LIFE and now you've reached THE END OF THE LINE. Alone in my cell I think it seems I have become THE OUTLAW TORN thinking about SUICIDE AND REDEMPTION what to do I cant let them kill me oh the STRUGGLE WITHIN talk about THE THING THAT SHOULD NOT BE. After a nights sleep I think maybe its fine after all TO LIVE IS TO DIE what is this THE UNNAMED FEELING maybe its time to TURN THE PAGE.
  • Shingami from Lusaka, ZambiaThis song is a masterpiece this is most definitely art at its best such compositions are the stuff you only find in classical music which isn't surprising considering Cliff was said to use classical scales for his compositions.
    Its a song I can never get tired of listening to and at no point to I find myself bored or drifting during this song. To me this is the greatest rock instrumental ever from my favorite band of all time.
    Go Metallica
  • Jordan from Liberty City, Txhey tiff elaborate on that feelin that rushes over ur body wen u listen to metallica
  • Matt from Bakersfield, CaOrion is Cliff's highlight song that cements him as the greatest bassist in the world over. RIP Cliff love ya forever!
  • Tiffany from Cleveland, OhOrion is definitely my FAV Metallica song. The bass is bananas and I'm not going to even start on the guitar solo. Every time I hear it, I get the same feeling that rushes over my entire body. KUDOS to this group!! May you rock on for many more years...and forever. I LOVE YOU METALLICA!!!!
  • Mem from Melbourne, Australiathe first marching section is great also the last & fade out marching section is even better! lol
  • Luke from Dayton, OhRIP Cliff Burton, who will always be the greatest bassist in history,
  • Rickey from Lansing, Mithe first time i heard this i was blown away. i love metallica. James, Lars, Kirk and Cliff are probably my favorite players in what they do.
  • Joey from Wellington, Fllove this song, best instrumental ive ever heard. Cliff, you are the best Bass player that ever has and will live. R.I.P. Cliff Burton
  • Cameron from Sana Fe Springs, CaThe bit about Cliff playing the intro on his Morley Power Wah Boost isn't true. He routed both pickups on his Rickenbacker to a Leslie speaker & used the proprietary effect to create the distinctive swirling growl. His other two solos (1:42 & 6:35) are done with the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff (fuzz).

    One of the greatest strengths to this song has to be how rife it's filled with music theory. Anyone who's played this song, be it guitar or bass, can see a well-structured pattern to the notes. God bless Clifford...

    PS: A common misconception with playing the intro (especially Robert Trujillo's "interpretation") is that it's an ascent/descent, not just an ascent. On a bass the notes are: A string-7 (whole note), D string-9 (half note), A string-9 (half note). It'd sound even more like the source of course if you used a Leslie speaker...
  • Nick from Cairns, Australialet me just say that this song is......AWESOME!! i love the solos, especially cliff burton's solos. I read somewhere in the garage inc. booklet that cliff burton wrote most of the music during the bass interlude about halfway through the song, where the dual guitar hamronies and melodies are. He must've been a musical genius to come up with such tuneful pieces that, are just so nice and soothing that you got to listen to the song itself to really feel that energy since words can't describe it enough. The only thing i don't like much about the song is the end and how it just fades off, maybe they should have done a "Call of Ktulu" kinda ending, lol :] . Yeh i'd give it 5/5. This and "Pulling Teeth (Anesthesia)" are propably the songs that best highlighted his career.
  • Chelle from Memphis, TnOrion was the best thing they ever did and very hard to follow.
  • Adam from Poplar Bluff, MoListen to Rodrigo y Gabriela's version of this song. It is played acoustically and is very good.
  • Anthony from Sault Saint Marie, CanadaWow.Incredible song, And now I* acuallty Remember the words for a song =D
  • Matt from Fullerton, CaGreatest song Ever! Cliff is crazy good throughout the whole song! 2 thumbs way up!

    R.I.P. Clifford Lee Burton
    Feb. 10, 1962-Sept. 29, 1986
  • Jason from Derry, Nh"the poem you are referring to is said on "To Live Is To Die" on "Justice" which is a tribute to Cliff Burton"
    ...Just to add to that, the poem itself actually was Cliff's. On the Orion note, I go back and forth between Orion and Ktulu as among my favorite instrumentals of all time. It's tough!
  • Breyd from Athens, United Statesquote:I can put Orion on repeat and probably listen to it all day long...
    - Sina, Memphis, TN

    I can put Orion on repeat and probaly listen to it for my whole life...
  • Bill from Arroyo Gande, CaAmazing song! God bless Cliff Burton
  • Declan from LiverpoolMetallica's best song
    I may go as far to say my favourite song ever

    Oh and definitly the best song to have on in the gym.

    Are there any other metallica instrumentals other than this and call of Ktulu as there amazing :)
  • Carl from London, EnglandOrion is the best song I have ever heard and I don't think I'll ever hear another song as good as this, that's how good this song is. All of the band are amazing on this song, especially Cliff Burton(whos two awsome solos are all ways mistaken as guitar solos). Cliff's 2nd solo is the last solo on the 2nd section of the song. Cliff is the best Bass player I've heard.
  • Deco from Sligo, IrelandRahul in Ottawa....there are no words in Orion. the poem you are referring to is said on "To Live Is To Die" on "Justice" which is a tribute to Cliff Burton.
  • Jt from Tullahoma, TnI used to be able to listen to Metallica a lot, and this song was my favorite. BUt this song got so depressing because in my head it tells a very sad story, and honestly I just cannot listen to any Metallica music anymore in fear of me going over the edge and killing myself.
  • Sina from Memphis, TnI can put Orion on repeat and probably listen to it all day long...
  • Richard from Tulsa, OkSindre: Are you sure you and I are taking of the same thing? Listen to the song from 6:35 to 6:54, the bass solo, not what is commonly referred to as the bass interlude. Cliff Burton even mentioned this when asked what he wanted his fans to know that many didn't know. He said that the last solo on Orion was a bass solo and not a guitar solo. In fact the Master of Puppets guitar tab book mistakenly included it as a guitar solo. Again, I am not talking about the main riff/ bass interlude riff. I am talking about the 20 second solo, the last solo of the interlude. Anyways, I am positive I am right. It is played on the last six frets of the G and D string, I have seen the sheet music and the tablature.
  • Marc from Niagara Falls, CanadaAMAZING this is awesome especially the solo after the bass solo
  • Richard from Tulsa, OkThe bass solo beginning at 6:35 and ending at 6:54 is often mistaken for a guitar solo. This is due to the whole solo being played on the last 6 frets of the G and D string, well into the guitarists range. The interlude is heavily influenced by classical music, most noticeably J.S Bach.
  • Rahul from Ottawa, CanadaThe spoken words come from a poem written by Cliff Burton.James Hetfield says the words in the song.Orion is definitely one of the greatest songs ever composed with Cliff Burton taking bass guitar virtuosity to a whole new level,while Kirk,James and Lars are also at their very best.
  • Scorpion from Las Vegas, Nvhands down...the best rock song ever composed.....ever.
  • Oscar from StockholmI was surprised when i saw that cliff died in sweden (thats where i live) and even more surprised when i saw that his last gig was in stockholm.
    R.I.P Clifford Lee Burton
  • Joseph from Marikina, OtherMetallica's best instrumental imo.
  • Rob from Perth, Australiathe power of orion is as follows... my parents both h8 metallica... mainly cause of the decibel level i play it... but both thought Orion could challenge ANY of the great peics of music written if played in the right context... they said this after i told them about cliff...
  • Nick from Sydney, AustraliaOrion is the best song of all time. The main riffs are sick and the solo's are soooo f'n mad. love it. This song deseves more credit. MetallicA all the way. RIP Cliff.
  • Jason from Everywhere, United StatesOrion is one my favorite songs of all time. I believe that if Cliff had not died Metallica would gone beyond, far beyond the fame that now have, as hard as that might be to imagine.
  • Joblahblah from Sanjoaustin, United Statesawwwww this song is lonely!
  • Katt from Dallas, Txtonight I will play Orion for my old friend Jason Rippy. No one will read this that knew the two of us in the same room at one time. Kids, jumping on a trampoline. Watching him grow into a handsome man. Tears are shed all over for Jason tonight, and tomorrow. Live on...
  • Ian from Hamilton, CanadaWow! no one's posted anything here yet! I can't see why, Orion might be my favorite metallica song. Anyway I love the bass in this song, and the solos are just incredible. Kirk, James and Cliff all show the hight of their soloing skills. I think they got the name "Orion", when they were listening to the mid section and they thought it sounded all spacey and stellar hence the name of a star constellation.
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