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This album gave me explosive diarrhea, and that's not a joke. I sat late one Friday evening reading through the previous reviews on the infamous Lulu, Metallica's 2011 release. After reading the fifth negative review my curiosity got the better of me; so I went searching, found, and listened to the entire thing. Please don't do the same. What Lulu holds deep within its tainted grasp is a horror only to be powered through by the strong-willed and the deaf. This album somehow surpassed 'Saint Anger' as the worst album ever to be written by these slowly dying musicians.
This will be a quick review, as I can't be bothered to spend more than a few minutes on the miserable work that is, Lulu.
This album starts out with the track 'Brandenburg Gate.' After a few randomly strummed chords, the almighty Lou Reed begins mumbling something, and this album's descent into sewage has started. As you lie deep in thought on what this decrepit creature is attempting to say, some poorly recorded power chords kick in. This is followed by an uninspired melody and James Hetfield's half-thrash voice immediately after. As always, Lars Ulrich is right behind these folks pretending to be a drummer, playing the same beat he's played his entire career. This track is like-able however: It causes uncontrollable laughter. Every time James cries out the key line "small town girl," it becomes impossible not to laugh yourself to tears. (Highlight? When Lou Reed blurts "But me? I'm happy cause I got my little nappy." Pretty sure he's talking about having an opiate addiction and the feeling after taking the drugs, but he still actually said "nappy.")
During the second track, 'The View,' the comedic value has lost it's valor. Be prepared for the most cringe-worthy of all the miserable failures placed on this glorified clump of fecal matter. It begins with Lars banging away a monkey tier beat, probably wondering how he still can't play after thirty-fucking-years behind the kit. Reed continues his pitiful drone, this time taking a fake and "Deep" spin with his half-baked spoken word. Lyrically it's not very sense-able, almost as if every word Lou and the gang contributed was uninspired and finely crafted to bend their way around having nothing to actually sing about. Reed will continuously raise his voice's pitch in the middle of some spoken words. This doesn't have the desired, powerful, effect they were going for and it makes the song completely intolerable. The track picks up a couple minutes in where you'll find Kirk Hammett trying to get win back Exodus's hearts, so they'll take him back, by "shredding" out a shitty and misplaced solo. There's really not much else to say about this one, just that it's by far the worst. (Highlight? "I am the table.")
The rest of this horrid album follows in line with the first two tracks, so I will not cover each song separately. It's all uninspired dribble. Not just a smudge on Metallica's already stained history, but proof that they need to throw in the towel. This album, granted, was not supposed to be like their other releases, and had meaning to serve other musical purposes. That, however, is not where the issue lies. The issue is that the biggest name in metal music foiled their name further by agreeing to make it. If you are a fan of all the classic Metallica albums, please save yourself and stay as far away from this gutter-muck as you can. Knowing where your childhood shredders went musically, will make you depressed.
In qualitative terms, this album makes St Anger look like Master Of Puppets. The album begins, innocuously enough, with some moderately intriguing guitar chords. Lou Reed's incoherent ramblings begin, and curiosity dies: this may be a new musical frontier, but not one worth exploring. The entry of Metallica occurs. Stumbling, out of time drum grooves from Lars Ulrich erupt. Dull guitar chords listlessly churn and crash against one another in the background. James Hetfield begins bellowing 'small town gurrrrl' out of tune, and Lou Reed resumes his recital of cringe inducing, entirely forced rhymes like 'I was feeling snappy, perhaps I'd been napping.'
As time marches on, the situation does not improve. The entire album is horrific, speaking as a fan of Metallica, music, and art in general.
I can't overstate how bad Lou Reed's vocals are. It sounds as if a homeless crackhead has broken into the studio and is holding the producer at knifepoint, demanding that his delusion of a masterful artistic vision be captured and applied to some third-rate rejected demo tracks by a former metal band that has given up the ghost. The lazy, unimaginative lyrics, mostly Freudian musings on feelings of sexual inadequacy, are as compelling as the dialogue of a prime time soap opera. Lou Reed might use coarse language, but the same mundane insecurities are being complained about.
The production is crap. The weak, muddy guitar tone from Lulu's predecessor Death Magnetic persists, and although Lulu doesn't clip as horrendously as that album, the overall sound is still poor. Kirk Hammett sounds as if he has finally smoked one joint too many, and his solos, to they extent that they exist at all, consist mostly of incoherent string noise.
The View contains one acceptable passage: 'I am the root...I am the progress...I'm the aggressor!' This part of the song is actually decent enough to sound like it might belong on a Metallica album - not one of the classics, but Load or ReLoad. Whatever points this section might garner are negated by the sheer shitness of the rest of the song, and the album. Iced Honey could also find a home on Load or ReLoad, if care were taken to craft vocal melodies. It could work as a kind of companion piece to Hero Of The Day, but the stagnant groan of Reed once again ruins what little worthwhile musical content there is to be found. Little Dog features Lou Reed droning on about impotence, sounding like a weathered old junkie searching for one last vein, to no avail...Metallica already tackled the theme of homelessness, with taste and eloquence, on Low Man's Lyric in 1997. This track is an inferior take on a subject already covered.
Mistress Dread is a grotesque parody of Metallica's Kill Em All era greatness. The fast tempo, utterly boring two-note riff, and mediocre drumming, topped off by Lou Reed's insufferable droning, amount to a sickening deconstruction of thrash. The same poor excuse for a riff continues for the first few minutes of the song, with no variation other than that of the pitch of the vague theremin-esque whining noises in the background, and the specific content of Reed's senile ramblings. One more chord is finally introduced, albeit an entirely predictable phrygian derived one we've all heard a thousand times before, and the same dogshit continues unabated until almost the five minute mark, after which rhythmically disjointed garbage is spewed until the song finally experiences its graceless death.
Credit where credit is due, Frustration contains one riff (exactly one) which sounds like it could be vaguely compelling in a different context, and could perhaps be acceptable as part of a musical composition. Not a Metallica song, of course - I hold them to higher standards, even after all this time. Lou Reed continues his impression of a mentally challenged homeless drug addict, crushing any chance of an even half-decent song emerging.
In the finale, Junior Dad, Lou Reed intones 'the dream is over...get the coffee. Turn the lights on.' This is an apt metaphor. The dream of Metallica being a viable creative entity is over, and studio minutiae like the acquisition of coffee have become more of a priority to the musicians than producing listenable music. The song does convey some emotional content, to be fair, but it's the metatextual sadness of the fan, mourning the fact that no more Metallica music worthy of listening to is likely to be produced.
These people need quality control. They need a producer who isn't even slightly impressed with their celebrity status, and will accept nothing less than metal of the highest quality. Metallica have lost all perspective on what made their music great, or even listenable. They seem to be no longer even trying to produce anything decent.
Whatever points the three or four semi-decent riffs on this ninety minute audio torture program could be allocated are negated by the awfulness of the remainder of the album. Lulu isn't even acceptable as a piece of surrealist comedy, or anti-art - the word 'Metallica' in the artist name 'Metallica and Lou Reed' invalidates such pretense, by suggesting the potential for a compelling and enjoyable listening experience.
This album is an abomination, and a colossal 'fuck you' to Metallica fans everywhere. Do not purchase this.
This album is plagued by several issues - awful production, the sheer length, to name a few. But I wouldn't say that those quoted by people most often - the general style, Lou Reed's rather tuneless vocals and often comical lyrics are really issues by themselves. They're central to the concept itself and actually primarily work in this case. This album being released under the moniker of Metallica is kind of an annoying distraction. This has less to do with Metallica than anything they've ever released. At most, its merely a vehicle and instrument for Lars to posit Metallica as a bunch of artistic visionaries and rationalise decades of kowtowing to the mainstream.
No, this album is really about Lou Reed. Its practically Lou indulging himself selfishly knowing that having the Metallica sticker on front would mean hapless fans of the band would buy the album anyway. Its an equally parasitic relationship - with Lars exploiting Lou's legacy for some artistic credibility and Lou exploiting Metalllica's crass commercial value for his creative efforts. If anything, this album is much too self indulgent and we can see glimpses of absolutely everything - Lou's mammoth resentment for his own lack of commercial success, his contempt for the public writ at large all over the record witnessed in his saying the album itself is meant for 'literate people'. Even the concept could be seen as chiefly appealing to Lou and practically noone besides him, his latent bisexuality getting its thrill out of describing the central character's sexual masochism in a raw and uninhibited fashion. Heck, I'd even argue that he's attracted to the concept itself for its self evocative title - 'Lulu'.
But I digress. What is chiefly redeeming and simultaneously irritating about this effort is that self indulgence. Now, the role of Metallica in this has been reduced to the backing band - all the riffs, the instrumentation are simply a droning backdrop to the lyrical gymnastics of Reed. Surprisingly, this actually brings out a rather palatable side of Metallica. Witness the droning, Sabbath-like riff in 'The View'. Or 'Mistress Dread' - a riff that has a slight black metal aesthetic (emphasis on aesthetic) in its execution. This is really more creative and lively than the band has been for ages. Nevertheless, the band still manages to get fairly irritating at times - James characterless vocals prove even more annoying than Reed's tunelessness and Lars' drumming being terrible enough to not even scrape up for drone.
Considering the lyrics are where the material aspect of the album really is, they are pure kitsch. Garbage. Its absolutely raw and uninhibited, stream of consciousness stuff. And often entirely comical, which is readily apparent even on the opener. Heck, I guess it takes some balls to throw in something quite as off-putting and comical as 'cut my arms and tits off' in the first 30 seconds of an album of 90 minutes length. But then again the whole album is really very far removed from any pragmatic point of view, and this really couldn't be judged by any conventional means. Doing so would only result in incomprehensibility. Reed's rambling and blathering may strike one as tuneless and untrained at first. But against the backdrop of this drone, and with the sheer rawness of the execution of it all - at times, it actually works brilliantly.
The only real problem is that with its assigned length, this is all too overwhelming. While Reed is taking his shot at his first real work uninhibited by any commercial concerns, akin to Metal Machine Music many years prior - he essentially shoots himself in the foot by really supplying far too much in short demand. But then again, I doubt he even remotely gives a fuck. The album is that blatantly self indulgent. If it was cut in half, much like the arms and tits of the central character, and whittled down considerably - well, it certainly wouldn't be any more palatable for conventional listening, but it would begin making a whole lot more sense. Sadly, for now, the best that can be done is reveling in the album's occasional successes at conveying a sense of atmosphere as it originally intended. And at its unending stream of hilarity with Reed eulogising about being 'spermless like a girl', 'sniffing shit like a dog', 'wagging my ass like a dark prostitute', 'the smell of your armpit' and other unintended slabs of comic gold. Its certainly a provocative listen with no remote equivalent out there. Though you'd do just as well just skipping over it entirely. Just saying.
Many years ago in the first review I ever posted on this site, I declared that the Waking the Cadaver's masterpiece of suck known as Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler to be the worst album ever made. While that album is still incredible in its terribleness, as of November 2011 it was no longer the worst record ever to disgrace the known world. It was in the first week of that month that I heard Lulu, the then-new collaborative album between Metallica, who I will openly and shamelessly admit are one of my favorite bands ever, and Lou Reed, who I had never heard of before first hearing the news of the collaboration between the two, but was somehow an incredibly influential figure in the music world. I honestly don't know how that is, as every single piece of music I've listened to from Reed has completely sucked, be it in Velvet Underground or his own solo material, but especially in this tandem effort with the most successful metal band of all time. Metallica, on the other hand, I enjoy the majority of their work, even records that have been condemned to eternal derision such as Load and St. Anger. I can't give this a pass though, because I have yet to hear a record as aurally displeasing and infuriating as Lulu. in every conceivable way this album falls flat on its face, and regardless of what the band and Reed were trying to do, it is a colossal, spectacular failure.
Taking the double album approach, the album is split into two discs of varying lengths and song amounts. When it comes to disc one, the songs are of a somewhat more digestible nature on the surface due to generally being of shorter lengths, save the disc closer "Cheat on Me" at 11-and-a-half minutes. However, upon hearing the first song "Brandenburg Gate", the massive, inescapable flaw of the record reveals itself in the first two minutes: almost nothing, NOTHING, of any interesting note happens in any of these songs. Guitars are strummed, bass is picked, drums are hit, and words are "sung" (or in Lou Reed's case, rambled off key and endlessly with no real objective or point to be found), but none of it is in any way pleasing to listen to. At times there will be an interesting riff, such as the thrashy start of "Mistress Dread", but the group squanders it by just doing it over and over and over and over and over with no feasible end in sight aside from just turning off the song. It's like the music version of when Family Guy just drags a gag along for 5 minutes without stopping, only more maddening. The point of no return is when Lou Reed first opens his mouth, spouting about cutting off tits when thinking of Boris Karloff on the dark of the moon and AAAAAHHHH. It's the least pleasing noise to ever grace my ears this side of an Alex Jones radio broadcast, and he never shuts up. Let me repeat that for you. He. Never. Shuts. Up. You know the archetype of the crazy rambling homeless guy who just goes on and on and on about things nobody would ever in a thousand lifetimes care about ad nauseum? That's Lou Reed on this album. Combine his nonsensical, possibly drunken spoken word with incomprehensible lyrics about dog prostitutes and being dry and spermless like a girl (Huh?) and cheating on yourself (once again, HUH?) and oh my god, just shut the FUCK up, Lou Reed! The Metallica side of things is no less ridiculous in its badness, with the band lazily playing along not sounding as if they give a single solitary crap in the world about what they are doing. James Hetfield, outside of providing the world great comedic fodder with lines like the infamous "I am the table!", does pretty much nothing of note here. His warbling of "Small town girrrrl-ah!" throughout "Brandenburg Gate" is both really funny and really out of place, as it just feels like it was thrown in without any care for placement within the structure of the song. If there is any one minor, slightly significant positive I can muster up the will to give the first disc, it's that it's at least memorable in its terribleness, like a musical equivalent to a Tommy Wiseau movie. If the record had stopped with the end of this disc, it could possibly be considered a "so terrible it's amazing" record...
...but that sadly is not the case, as there's still the matter of the second disc to attend to. This is where the record, already deep in the depths of a sea of suck, drowns and, weighed down by the bloated nature of its songs, sinks to the bottom of the ocean, never to be recovered by rescue teams. The lengths of the songs jump from mostly under 7 minutes to all over 8 minutes, and all 47 painful minutes of this disc are minutes you wish that you could recover. Unlike disc one, which had a smattering of decent moments throughout, there is only one good riff on this entire disc, that being the somewhat southern doom riff found throughout opener "Frustration". That might just be the most fitting song name in recorded musical history, as not only does the song just continue to happen throughout its 8 and-a-half minute run time, but outside of that doomy riff, a brief moment of incredibly sloppy drum soloing from Lars Ulrich (all while Reed continues to just warble with no sense for time signature or structure), and the one minute intro of broken circus organ and guitar warbling, absolutely nothing worth noting happens. That's more than I can say for the next three songs, two of which take on a significantly more subdued style compared to all the previous songs on both this disc and the first disc. "Little Dog" is 8 minutes of acoustic nothingness, with guitar feedback of various tones blaring over top the music, bare bones drumming, and just a general feeling of "This is never going to end. This is going to play forever." Disc and album closer "Junior Dad" may just be the fabled "cure for insomnia" that people like to label many boring songs with. This song surpasses boring, it surpasses monotony, it surpasses banality. It burrows a nice, big hole straight through your skull and into your brain, where it just attacks you with its TWENTY MINUTES of emptiness before ending in the longest 8 minutes of strings and horns ever recorded. Bands such as Dream Theater and Opeth proved long ago that songs as long as those found on Lulu's second disc can remain interesting and enjoyable. Metallica and Lou Reed are not either of those bands, and although Metallica have created numerous songs reaching 8-10 minute mark that are just a blast to listen to, that same ingenuity cannot be found on this disc. It is an unending, unpleasant, insufferable bore of a disc that doesn't even meet disc one's memorability in terms of terrible music.
This is a combination that should never even have been considered by either party. Neither of their styles mix in any conceivably good way, nor did anyone even speak of both Lou Reed and Metallica in the same sentence. This nearly 90 minute snoozer of a record is not only the worst album Metallica have ever slapped their name on, but it's the worst album I personally have ever listened to. As mentioned many hundreds of words ago, I am an openly massive fan of the band, and I say that without any shame whatsoever despite the years of revisionist history that has affected even their first records (No, Dave Mustaine was not responsible for Metallica's success, nor was he the only contributor of good material on Kill 'Em All), but I absolutely cannot support a record as blatantly terrible as this one. Where the majority of the blame is to be placed is beyond me, as I feel both parties had an equal hand in this atrocious record, but one thing that is for sure is that neither group will ever live this down. Just when you thought St. Anger was the lowest point in Metallica's career, along came Lulu to dethrone it. Way to go, guys. Way to go indeed.
Originally published at http://suite101.com
With the possible exception of Queensryche, there has never been a more controversial metal band than Metallica. Some bands have that one album that divides fans and frequently tops "all-time worst" polls but no one can agree on just how many times Metallica has royally screwed up over time. Thus, it's not too out of left field for them to collaborate with Lou Reed, an equally influential performer who has proudly claimed to have scared away the entirety of his fanbase in 1975 with the release of the infamous Metal Machine Music...
So with this to consider, is this pair's coming-of-age story about a 19th century prostitute who meets Jack the Ripper really such a bad egg? An overwhelming majority certainly thinks so but I am not so convinced. There are still moments on here that make one wonder how it would've turned out if it had been handled differently.
Despite the extreme musical overhaul that occurred between this and 2008's Death Magnetic, one can immediately notice how the production hasn't really changed all that much. The shift away from pounding thrash metal means the worst of the Loudness War glitches may slip under the radar for some but the tone itself still has an uncomfortably dry feeling. It's a minor complaint compared to other flaws on here but it's not the best of signs...
Speaking of which, the band members' performances don't stand out much, an observation made weirder by this being a very jam-oriented release. There are great guitar moments here and there but the drums only stand out when they're being too intrusive (Fix your kit, Lars!) and the leads and bass are next to invisible! And as everyone has pointed out, the vocals are ridiculous. Reed's burnt-out, spoken word style is surprisingly effective when compared to James Hetfield's howled contributions but there are way too moments where his Bob Dylan meets Christopher Walken voice just doesn't fit. Then again, it's hard to imagine a voice that actually would fit this music...
But like St. Anger before it, this album's biggest flaw is that it needed to be so much shorter. Both releases have a bad tendency to dwell on and revisit ideas for longer than it is necessary and both really would've benefited from tighter, more focused songwriting. There is no reason why this album needed to be two discs long; if the closing "Junior Dad" had been cut by 10-12 minutes alone, it would've been a much more enjoyable track and would've made the album as a whole less exhausting.
But while the songwriting is poorly constructed, there are some good songs on here. "Iced Honey" is easily the best song on here due to it being the most tightly constructed while still having a very laid back feel. In addition, "Frustration," "Dragon," and "The View" all have some solid riffs that would've fit a Sabbath-styled doom rock project if they were given a darker makeover. The album also has some songs that manage to present some pretty emotional moments. While they are too long, "Cheat On Me" and "Junior Dad" are fairly touching and the opening "Brandenburg Gate" sets up a somber atmosphere despite all the time James spends warbling about a "small town girl."
And like St. Anger, there is one thing that may redeem this release for some people: it's pretty damn hilarious. Even when ignoring all the jokes that have been made about James Hetfield being a piece of furniture, the lyrics are full of unintentional amusement as Reed laments being "spermless like a girl" and mutters something about a "colored man's dick." Some will brand the lyrics as being reason to hate this album but they really help give this album character in my opinion. It may have had something to do with me being surrounded by too many hipsters in the English department and thus accustomed to the ways of artsy-fartsy pretentiousness. Whatever it is, it does make for good entertainment...
As somewhat expected, this is a hard album to properly rate. Objectively, this is a pretty crappy album but there's just some force that makes me want to like this. Along with the new Morbid Angel, this is pretty much the Troll 2 of music: it tries so hard to be deep but you spend more time laughing than reflecting any sort of philosophical insight. If anything, this is a conversation piece that is meant to be discussed rather than listened to on a regular basis. Get it at a cheap price if you want to really join the discussion. If not, at least go buy the new Megadeth album; this may be the one time that Dave Mustaine has actually come out on top!
"Cheat On Me"
FOREWARD: I decided to revisit Lulu because I felt perhaps it got a bad rap too early and I let that influence my score. So I listened to it again... and now I like it even less. I wasn't being too harsh, I was being far too kind. Anywho, here's the updated review:
Metallica have spent a good chunk of their career now (since the early 90's) making people wonder "why are these guys famous multi-millionaires?" Indeed, every album they've made for quite some time has left fans scratching their heads and wondering exactly what James/Lars were thinking. While Death Magnetic was a half-assed attempt to recreate past glory (it resembled a Metallica tribute album more than a proper Metallica album), Lulu is... well... that's the thing. I can't figure out what this thing is for the life of me. It honestly resembles fuzzy atmospheric garage rock (the production is actually quite nice for having been done in 10 days) performed by aging former metal stars with some old demented coot ranting into the mic. If that sounds unappealing, then join the rest of us; this was an experiment, but a horribly done experiment.
One thing that could've helped is if the process wasn't so rushed. I detect very little Metallica involvement here, and while I'm new to Lou Reed, I'm not new to Metallica, and I can tell what was thought up by Metallica and what wasn't. While "The View" might've contained some good ol' fashioned diminished chords, a hallmark of metal, Brandenburg Gate sounds like Bob Dylan with distorted guitars, and I mean that in the worst way possible, and Metallica sound like they're trying to be heavy on a song that really should not be heavy, at all, and it sounds like they heavily mixed Lou Reed's low-key drawl up in the mix to overpower James' generic shout and the noisy guitars, which is most apparent on songs where Metallica tried to be heavy. Note I said, "tried", not succeeded. Honestly, if they had spent a little more time collaborating, a little more time brainstorming, and a little more time in the execution process, this could've been gold. This could've been a repeat listen. This could've been Metallica's magnum opus.
But it's not. It resembles a collision between 2 trains, one labelled Metallica and another labeled Lou Reed. When Lou Reed's voice comes in, it makes me cringe every time, because his lazy "half spoken, half sung" style doesn't mesh well with the clanging drums and guitars, with his lazy rhythm suited much better to the strum of acoustic guitars and padded drums, not Metallica's setup. However, the sounds are not offensive, just puzzling. This is coming from someone who listens to experimental music in some sort of fashion a good 80 or 90 percent of the time. I'm not against experimentation in metal; if it weren't for those brave souls who introduced outside elements to the metal sound, metal would've died, suffocated on its pureness. This isn't really all that experimental, though. The traditional Metallica method of lengthening songs by repeating stuff over and over (which they've done on and off since ...And Justice) is in full swing here. I would honestly rate Lulu a good ten or fifteen points higher if they trimmed a good half hour from this album. Long songs wouldn't ordinarily be a problem with me, except for the fact that Lulu is impossible to listen to, appreciate, and listen to again unless you listen to the whole damn thing, because obviously, the biggest component of this album are the lyrics, since they mixed Lou's drunken utterings so danged high in the mix, and because the guitars are so dreadfully boring and repetitive. Many songs simply consist of one riff for most of their duration, and usually it's a horrifyingly simple riff. Let me rephrase that: The average riff you heard on "The View" is the best riff on the album. It only goes downhill from there, and the more this album goes on, the more they repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat these increasingly terrible excuses for riffs.
A good analogy would be that if this were food, it would be chocolate covered spaghetti n' meatballs with bits of watermelon and salmon with ice cream on the side. Doesn't sound appetizing, does it? The only reason Lulu gets a score from me at all is because I like the individual parts -- Metallica, at least when they're trying, that is, actually put up a few good moments here, and that James doesn't sound as bad through the mic as on St. Anger I guess is to his credit, and as well Kirk actually solos here, albeit not that well. In addition, I actually like Reed's soothing half-spoken vocals -- just not in this context, and it's when you mix it all together that it becomes impossible to listen to, much like how that hypothetical dish I mentioned would be hard to eat. I will listen to this occasionally, but the problem here isn't that it's supremely inaccessible -- I listen to WAY more inaccessible stuff -- it's that it's one of those ideas that should've stayed as a drawing on a napkin at some restaurant. I suspect somebody detailed the concept of Lulu on a napkin at some restaurant, and then kept on developing the idea instead of simply forgetting it. Some ideas weren't meant to be, and Lulu is one of them.
On the other hand, Metallica are now a guessing game -- "Let's see how much Metallica can destroy their legacy next!" This time, it wasn't so much that Lulu was offensive to my ears (like $t. Anger or Loads) but simply that it's a somewhat ambitious idea, in the sense that it does cross many genre lines, but those lines are not even remotely crossed skillfully, and its put together in too much of a hurry, done by musicians who just don't have the know-how to put something like this together. No disrespect, Metallica, but you should honestly stick to what you're good at. I was hoping they'd develop the direction they took on Death Magnetic and churn out a respectable metal album, but I guess that was wishful thinking, and I'll simply add Lulu to the ever-increasing list of failed Metallica ventures.
Where to even begin with this atrocity that is known as Lulu, the re-burger of Metallica & Lou Reed… Well, we can start with the very first words spoken on the first song “Brandenburg Gate”: “I would cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff…” Literally, reading the lyrics for this entire album will speak for itself. If you're one of the chosen few that "don't get" Lou Reed's poetry (as James Hetfield puts it), then you are not reading this from the enclosure of a padded cell or closet.
This is the most god awful album on the planet. This justifies Metallica’s famously horrible St. Anger in every way, to the point that it makes St. Anger sound like Adele. With as much hype as the guys have been giving this album, this by far wins my vote for not only the biggest letdown of the year, but of any hyped up album ever released. If this album doesn’t get worst album of the year, decade, and century, then I’m a one-legged, pissed off Puerto Rican. I can’t begin to express my disgust of the way they fooled their loyal fans looking forward to this turd. I would rather take my $12 to the bank, cash it all in for pennies, go to the nearest sewer grate or manhole cover, and drop one penny at a time, at a rate of 1 penny an hour. I would derive more enjoyment from that then actually listening to this again.
What can be said about “The View” that fellow writer Sammi hasn’t already said? Read that single review Here. To throw in my two cents, it sounds to me that the instruments of “The View” were recorded onto an LP disc format, but instead of using a stylus to read the music, they used Lou Reed’s nut sack.
Is there any actual musicianship at all within this album? I’m afraid there isn’t. “Pumping Blood” sounds like a heavy version of Phish, and yes I use that as an insult because I cannot stand Phish. If you are unfamiliar with them, be glad. They are a crappy jam band, which is what this song sounds like. As a side note, when James Hetfield croons “Why do I cheat on me” along with Lou on the song “Cheat On Me,” it sounds like he stubs his toe every time he says it.
The angst of millionaires is shown in the song “Frustration,” which, musically, is very much like “The View.” Minimal musicianship that is re-hashed and re-burgered, Lou’s babbling old man nonsense talk, and the overall effect that somewhere, at this time, everyone who is not listening to this album is having a good life. In about four months, you will be making about thirty dollars an hour. You take a trip to the thrift store and you see this album for the low price of three dollars. Seeing the name Metallica, you are excited at listening to a Metallica album that you’ve never heard before. You get home and you play this on your computer, which kills you a little on the inside. So you actually get upset, and drive the 45 miles back to the same thrift store just so you can get that three dollars back, never mind the fact that you spent about twenty in gas to get there alone.
Have you ever had that moment where you were halfway out the door, when a old man appears (grandpa or otherwise), and continues to talk to you about his life, but he has Alzheimer’s coupled with deliria, so he ends up talking in droves about complete nonsense and won’t let you leave? So you try to interrupt him so that you may continue about your day, but every time you do, he talks over you like you don’t exist? That’s what putting myself in harm’s way for this website by listening to this album was like. It amazes me that no one quit the band during or after the recording of this album due to creative differences. No matter where life takes these individual musicians, Lulu will remain in their shadows for eternity. Hopefully this, in turn, will diminish Metallica’s widely publicized diva attitudes, because this is proof that their shit does indeed stink.
I also admire journalist Chuck Klosterman's review of this, saying "If Red Hot Chili Peppers were to acoustically cover the twelve worst Primus songs for Starbucks, it will still sound better than this."
Oh, and to every single reviewer who had the audacity to give this album a positive review and saying that this album is "important" because of it's sheer lack of commercialism, you are the biggest hipsters I have ever seen.
Ever since their last proper thrash/heavy metal album in the form of 1991's eponymous album, Metallica has been going downhill, first with their attempts at hard rock with the Load/Reload albums before finally going "back to their original form" with 2008's Death Magnetic. While Death Magnetic wasn't exactly what a die hard fan of Metallica's earlier works would consider a return to form per se when compared to masterpieces like Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightning, this was certainly an indication of a move towards the right direction.
Things started looking up until the band's announcement of a collaboration project with famed rock singer/songwriter Lou Reed, which left followers scratching their head, wondering what this collaboration would result in. Right from the start, this smelled almost like a quick cash-grab strategy, what with the high profile announcements and the numerous dramatic narrations of behind-the-scenes incidents that displayed the apparently weak and human side of Metallica guitarist James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, with each of them being "brought to tears" during the recording of Junior Dad. The eventual release of the album brought about sharp criticisms, especially in the metal scene. Nevertheless, the optimistic side of me decided to take the risk and find out what the big hoo-ha was all about.
Lulu opens with a somewhat bluesy feel with Brandenburg Gate, and this is certainly uncharacteristic of Metallica, and with the opening moments one almost feels threatened with the possibility of this being an entirely acoustic album with no rock instrumentals. Fortunately soon the electric guitars and drums come in, but this silver lining lasts for only a slight moment as Lou Reed begins his rants about whatever, going on and on like a bitter old man, while James Hetfield does nothing but shouts "small-town girl" at the background, sounding like a broken record. Even when Lou Reed attempts to sing, there are moments when he sounds almost as if he were struggling to keep a pitch, and for the most part sound out of tune. And this goes on for almost the entirety of the album. Thanks Lou Reed, for offering to tell me your life story and your random rants, but no thanks. At least do this in a more interesting format if you really have to let me know what you've been through in the past 60 odd years of your life. The extent of annoyance from his vocals is such that even the unimpressive vocals of James Hetfield suddenly sounds extremely welcome.
Sure, there are heavy metal moments such as those on The View and the few chugging riffs on Pumping Blood, but for the most part of the album the riffs presented are repetitive and lack any sense of creativity, and it sounds as if the band had run out of songwriting ideas. Even the few lead lines on the album are extremely emotional, sounding more like what pop-punk bands would write instead. The attempts to include other stringed classical instruments like those on Pumping Blood instantly remind me of the abomination that is S&M, only that this is infinitely worse (and it doesn't help that Lou Reed sounds as if he were struggling to keep up with the rhythm). Pumping Blood also sees the band attempting a more metal style, but this fails badly, with the entire band just sounding totally incoherent towards the end of the song, with Lars going trigger-happy behind his kit. Mistress Dread also contains some thrash metal moments at the beginning of the song, and as usual, Lou Reed has to come in and further spoil the entire thing (though there's nothing particularly special about the instrumentals as well) and ends up making the song sound like a bad karaoke session. The only decent track is perhaps Iced Honey, and the song is hardly even "heavy", so to speak, and could have worked as a pop-rock track instead, and Frustration contains quite a number of decent riffs as well, but that is about all that is good that is offered on Lulu.
As if the 4 minute Brandenburg Gate weren't bad enough, the album is plagued by tracks that start getting longer from the middle of the album onwards, prolonging the suffering that the listener has to go through. In particular, Cheat on Me have an unnecessary and extremely long intro, leaving the listener to become bored easily and Little Dog ends up sounding pretty pointless and gets nowhere. Dragon takes too long to build up for only a short moment of slight Death Magnetic-styled satisfaction and Junior Dad, while being one of the more bearable tracks initially, end up dragging on for far too long.. I know, I know, it's not nice to laugh at such a "sincere" record, but Lulu certainly sounds like an overdone April Fools' prank to longtime fans of Metallica. Many bands progress over the years, but this? This is regression, not progression. Much as the band talks about how this is the "best damn thing ever written", they can live in their own little cocoon. It still leaves me wondering how I managed to sit through the entire whole 1 and a half hour.
What is the difference between "bravery" and "foolishness"?
I have no problem with Lou Reed. None at all. He's not my favorite by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't dislike him or what he does. I'm just not a fan. His Rock And Roll Animal album is in my top 10 live albums, for sure, but that's about all of his material I can appreciate in one sitting. He has my respect, truly, just not my admiration.
Okay, everyone seems to know about my long-standing grief over Metallica's hypocrisy, but I honestly try to not let that have any influence over my judgement of any new Metallica product. I mean I actually liked Death Magnetic. Granted, I haven't listened to that in probably 2 years, but still... it didn't suck.
This does. A lot.
I have absolutely no idea what either party was thinking going into this project. I just do not see what one party would bring to the other party's fanbase to make them say, "hey, I have them all wrong! This is great!" Lou Reed is doing exactly what Lou Reed does best... telling stories put to music. I've always considered him more of a narrator than a singer, kind of like Bob Dylan. But the thing is that when he's doing his thing, the music is usually setting an atmosphere which will, if done properly, convey the emotional backdrop for the character study he's putting forth. The problem is that Metallica have absolutely no idea how to tell stories through music.
Seriously, all they had to do was ask Lou, "hey, what's this song about and what kind of emotion do you want to put forth through the music?" Seriously, that's it. Oh, and they had to be able to play within those parameters. Instead, it sounds like all that they heard Lou say was "play something, anything, for 8 minutes, but make it one riff and stick with it." Again, this would have been tolerable, but Metallica being Metallica interpreted it as "play one riff for 8 minutes and start throwing in random ego stroking for no reason to throw off any sort of emotional story-telling foundation you may have been headed towards." Mission accomplished.
Seriously, there is absolutely no subtlety to what they are trying to do. Jeez, I actually have no idea what they are trying to do. And poor Lou Reed... All that he's trying to do is tell his little story, but Metallica are so busy ego-stroking all over everything that Mr. Reed feels compelled to start yelling over the music just to try to get his point across. It's embarrassing. Truly embarrassing. Usually I can get at least a chuckle out of hearing Lars trying to be tricky, but here it's just annoying. Listen to the track "Pumping Blood'" and tell me what the fuck he thinks he's doing, because it sure as shit sounds like a simpleton who thinks he's a genius.
Before this came out there were instances of it being called a brave move on both parties parts. But how sincere can such a claim be if the people proclaiming said bravery stand to profit from it if it is indeed successful? Is bravery only applied to actions that have already occurred? If a man crosses a river filled with hungry alligators to save his family while strapped with raw bacon, is that brave or foolish? Does the cause determine the label? I just never saw this as anything but a really bad idea from the moment I first heard about it. You know, if they had such a great time jamming together at that awards thing, then fine, jam away. Whatever makes you guys happy. But if you put it out for public scrutiny then you shouldn't be surprised if EVERYONE starts calling you out on your ego-fueled death race while trying to pass it off as something artistically deep and profound musically.
This should have been just a simple, fun thing between five musicians that they got together and did and then left it alone. Why did they release this, and who did they release it for? It's not that I don't enjoy musical experimentation. far from it. But this is not an experiment, it's an out-of-control ego trip caught on tape and released for the world to gape at in shock and awe.
Seriously, this is so bad that I can't even hate it. But I can't just refuse to acknowledge it exists from this point forward because it is such a slap in the face of both parties' fan bases that it deserves, nay NEEDS TO BE reviled. Maybe then some egos will be checked at least a little bit at some point in the future. One can hope.
I can’t say this is an easy work to give a rating to. It’s practically alien altogether from anything else I’ve ever reviewed. This is Metallica’s latest polarizing work, in which they collaborated with 70s Velvet Underground man Lou Reed. I’ll admit I’m not entirely familiar with Lou’s works as of right now but I won’t let that affect my opinion of this…which is quite complicated. This will be a long one, folks. Let’s get started.
Lulu is the name given to this strange mutated piece of music, which stretches out for 90 minutes and contains music very much unlike anything Metallica has ever done before. The reason for that is because it was written by Lou Reed, with only minimal input from James, Lars and the boys in the structure and whatnot of the songs. Now, this album has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and while I really don’t think it’s bad at all, I also don’t want this to come off like some kind of apologetic rant – so let’s get a few things on the table. This is very repetitive. It’s long. It’s dramatic, and it’s a concept album based on German plays from the early 20th century. Lou Reed’s voice sounds like a crazed, broken old drunk, and Metallica play rather fuzzed out, raw rock/metal grooves to compliment his raving.
It is that very rawness which attracts me to this from the beginning, because I guess I’m a sucker for that stuff. This was recorded in 10 days, and because of that, not a lot of real polishing went into any of it. Thus, the music attains a real nice garage feel, a great, untamed and honest rawness that makes it sound natural and lifelike. There is a real theatrical quality to a lot of this, with Reed’s muttering and hoarse intonations being restricted by the fact that he’s a fossil, but also carrying this strange power to them anyway. I can’t even describe it succinctly. It’s like this whole murderous air that the lyrics have is carried perfectly by these vocals. Yes, he’s decrepit, yes he sounds like a geriatric in an asylum, but it fits! I fully believe that Reed speaks the truth with these lyrics. No flashy showbiz, no tricks…just the demented mind of some sicko poured out into 90 minutes of aural abyss.
OK, so I should probably get into the story of the lyrics before I go any further…basically from what I can tell, it’s about a girl named Lulu who loved nothing except for seducing men and then breaking their hearts and crushing them into a fine powder – oh, and pain; she loves pain. When she meets Jack the Ripper, the two embark on a downward spiral of dejection, insanity and hatred. The lyrics are all laid out in stark naked glory, a dark beauty, and they are by far the best part of the album. They read sort of like mid-20th century beat poetry, which I guess fits, and Lou Reed was around back then. They’re all very disturbing and dark. People make a fuss about the use of phrases in these lyrics that they take out of context and don’t even bother to read the rest of, but really they’re brilliant.
The actual music behind the vocals is, well, Metallica – albeit infused with a different mood and tone than usual; more depressive, more despairing. I have to say the first two songs aren’t the strongest, and while “Brandonburg Gate” has some interesting melodies, it lacks a good climax. “The View” is just a bit safe compared to the rest, which is all rather ambitious and sprawling. There are genuinely beautiful moments like the wistful sorrow of “Junior Dad,” or the broken-down “Little Dog,” and there are moments of building tension and bloody unrest like the incredibly disturbing “Pumping Blood,” or the channeled, senseless rage of “Dragon.” “Mistress Dread,” with its fast-riffs-slow-singing combination, comes off an extremely off-putting, eerie track that sets a tangibly macabre mood. “Iced Honey” is perhaps the only song here that could stand on its own away from the conceptual ties, with its rollicking old school rock groove. The despairing, contemplative atmosphere of “Cheat on Me” leads directly to the furious and wrathful “Frustration,” another one of the more forceful, disturbing songs on display.
Generally the formula with this album is the more intense a song gets, the better it gets – whether it be the angry side or the depressive, bleak side. This is at its fullest power when Metallica and Reed work together to envelop the listener in a pocket of rolling melodies and pounding rhythms. The repetition has been oft-cited as the worst aspect of Lulu and I guess I can see how; these songs are all quite long, but it really doesn’t bother me much. It’s actually done pretty well, and the songs never get boring once you get sucked into the atmosphere. Murderous and blood-soaked, yes, and sometimes cumbersome, but it never sounds like anything you’ve heard before…
Really the failing of Lulu is that it is grossly inaccessible. This is a brilliantly atmospheric piece of music, with a great set-up and all, but it is unabashedly different from literally everything that most people want, unashamedly inaccessible and bullheaded to the point where it’s too far gone to ever be a real masterwork. I applaud these guys for creating such a weird, whacked out piece of work, but they just let it all hang out, and while the roughness and the garage-band aesthetic appeals to me, I can’t deny that they could have done more to trim it down a whole lot and make it a more efficient, economic piece.
Most people hate Lulu for its aesthetic qualities like the repetitive songwriting and Reed’s muttering, but really it doesn’t work because it’s just too clunky and fat. You need to hear the whole thing in order to get anything out of it; listening to just one song won’t really do anything for you. And seeing that this thing is 90 friggin’ minutes long, you better have time to really listen to it. Frankly, as intriguing as this can be, it’s not really worth it. This is an artistic album, but it expects too much from the listener, and doesn’t give enough in return.
For that it remains a curiosity and a singular, weird, fucked up experiment. Every once in a while I’ll haul this out and give it a listen, when I’m in the mood, but the truth is, I can’t really defend Lulu. People will bash and rage about this all they want and frankly I can’t really do much to dissuade them or prove them wrong. This isn’t exactly good music. The atmosphere is interesting and the rawness is cool and I enjoy it for that, but as for actually saying it’s good? Ehhh, I don’t know about that. The lyrics are good, great even. But the music is flawed. Listen at your own peril.
The only question I could really pose to Metallica and Lou Reed would be: did you guys pull this out of your ass? This is, without a doubt, the worst album that Metallica has ever brought to their fans and I must say they have no excuse this time. It wasn't experimentation, nor was it because a bass player died or left the band, it's because they lacked ideas and just want money, that's it. This album, based off a German play on a whore, is an embarrassment to the fans and to the other bands in the Big Four, this is just sad. This album is just a huge heap of nothing that it's really hard to even come up with words to describe this album, I just don't know what to say. After listening to the album I was truly shocked to hear an album that was actually worse than St. Anger, they say it was impossible, but sure enough it occurred. Simply put, this is the worst I've heard since Morbid Angel's new release.
The music as a whole is just sloppy, so sloppy that it makes St. Anger and Death Magnetic musical masterpieces. Never have I heard an album so weak and dull in my entire life as a metal head, this is just one of those "what the fuck" moments. Perhaps I should elaborate a little on the music besides just bashing it. Lou Reed, who you'd expect to be a "game changer" for the band, sounds like he's free styling his lyrics as if he put no effort into making it sound good. Hetfield isn't doing so hot either, his vocals are worse than the last two albums. He sounds like a dying horse that's getting the crap kicked out of him, strained and below satisfactory. At first I thought Hetfield's vocals couldn't get any worse, but sure enough, it did. Ulrich's drumming has gone from bad to worse, it's like his St. Anger drumming but completely dull and wasted. Rob has been inaudible that it's like he's not even there, in the studio, playing and Kirk is playing along with him on his guitar as if he was a novice. Basically, Metallica has been playing in the background while Lou Reed is pretty much free style rapping like a nerd, and he sounds like one too. I mean, you'd expect a lot from Lou Reed, because it's Lou fucking Reed, but no you just hear a bunch of poorly structured lyrics.
Money is all that matters to Metallica now, you can tell by listening to this album. If they really care about the fans, then they'd make something worthwhile and productive. Seriously, if they actually want money then they should get back in touch with their 80s vibe and sound, maybe then they'd actually gain not only forgiveness from their fans, but satisfaction from them as well. You may think this is a complete "anti-Metallica" rant saying how much they "suck" or that they're "sell outs", if I said that on a "Master of Puppets" album review, that'd be acceptable. Here's the thing: reviews are about personal opinions that can sometimes lead to the truth. Right now: I am telling the truth because the album sounds like garbage, a waste of time, money and talent, there's nothing else to really say about it. Metallica, after releasing this atrocity, will never be the same again. This is St. Anger number three.
In conclusion, this album was a big disappointment to us all, we honestly wouldn't think that Metallica could sink this low, but hey, things can happen. I wouldn't recommend this album to anybody, if you should so happen to cross this album on your travels, turn the fuck around and run.
2011 hasn't been kind to a few high-profile bands and artists. The people involved with those projects (who shall go unnamed... okay, fine, Mike Portnoy, among many) should at least be happy they're not Lou Reed or Metallica, though. The collaboration no one was looking forward to, this debacle easily meets the low expectations everyone had about the album. But dear God, this is worse than any of us could have imagined. Metallica truly does not give a flying fuck anymore what they do, they're so goddamn sure it'll sell millions anyway. And what pisses me off is, it probably will, and Metallica will keep releasing half-assed shit like this. Yes, I understand this is a collaboration with famed singer-songwriter and former member of The Velvet Underground Lou Reed, but Metallica's name is still stapled on this product. To me, if this was truly something musically different, they would have come up with a different name entirely, but as it stands, it's a collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica, so elements of both artists should be evident here. If this is the best Metallica can do, fuck them. Just fuck Metallica.
(going on a bit of a tangent here) I never got what was so goddamn special about Metallica, anyway. Yeah, their first two albums (you heard me, TWO) were pretty damn good benchmarks of thrash metal, but it was all downhill from there-- over-commercialized hard rock garbage, and failed attempts at comebacks that fail to recapture their glory days, which Metallica doesn't seem to realize wouldn't have been possible without Dave Mustaine. This is the THIRD album since the infamously bad St Anger album, and Metallica still doesn't have its shit together. The drums are somehow worse, the guitars are almost non-existent, the bass even more so, and the song structures and lyrics are ungodly awful.
Yes, you heard me, the guitars are almost non-existent. All they do is buzz around in the background with nothing of noteworthiness or impact to be had from the "riffs." If these are riffs, they're pathetic fucking riffs. The awful production does nothing to bring out the guitars or the bass. It's nothing but drums here, folks. Nothing but Lars Ulrich's horrendous drumming. Imagine the drumming from Death Magnetic (I know you don't want to, just work with me here), but with a zillion more cymbals.
James Hetfield takes a back seat on vocals and lets Lou Reed take the mic for most of the time. Baaaaaaad idea. Lou Reed sounds absolutely awful here. He's barely intelligible and horribly off-key. And that's just while he's singing! A lot of the time, he does this Ke$ha-like more-talking-than-singing that sounds even worse. When James does step in, it's almost a godsend, and considering how bad he sounded on Death Magnetic, that's a bad sign of what this sounds like. Honestly, if I could give this album a negative score, I could (and believe me, I tried).
Jesus, don't even get me started on how fucking long these songs are! I've been ragging on Junior Dad a lot, between my review of the single "The View" (which still sucks, by the way, but is sadly the best song on here) and just generally talking about this album, and I hate to keep doing that, but come on!!! It's 20 fucking minutes!!! The song lengths don't start off that bad on the first disc. The songs still suck horribly, but at least they're somewhat short. But then it gets to "Cheat On Me," and it's somehow more downhill from there. There is nowhere NEAR enough musical ideas to warrant "Cheat On Me" being ELEVEN AND A HALF FUCKING MINUTES. But then again, this IS Metallica, who never quite know when long is too long, and on top of that, they're collaborating with Lou Reed, the man who did an entire album of guitar feedback. Time means absolutely nothing to these people.
Disc 2 is worse. There are only four songs, the shortest being 8 minutes. There are literally moments in "Frustration" where the entire band drops dead silent, and Lou Reed is left to either ramble mindlessly and repetitiously over feedback or to signal Lars to do some of the worst drum fills in probably literally recorded history. Again, THERE IS NO WARRANTING THE SONGS BEING THIS LONG. If they trimmed off a lot of this fat, they could have crammed the album into one painful disc instead of two, saved a lot of plastic, and thus saved the earth a bit of the process. But nope. They don't give a shit. "Little Dog" goes absolutely NOWHERE (and the lyrics really suck on top of that), "Dragon" is just boring, and "Junior Dad" is abysmal (as expected). Most of "Junior Dad" is some bullshit "spacey" droning that was apparently something orchestrated by a... orchestra. There's no structure or emotion. It's just nonsensical "atmosphere." Fuck that shit. Hell, if Metallica and Lou Reed released this album with just the first disc, I wouldn't be so compelled to try and give this a negative score. It'd still be a zero, but that's all it would be. MAYBE I'd be generous and give it a 1%. But that second disc really bogs down an already insufferable experience.
This is auditory torture. Pure shit. Nothing salvageable can be gained from this... thing's... existence. To use it as a coaster is an insult to coasters, and there are several, much more entertaining shit albums worthy of coaster-hood. Fuck, you could buy a coaster, put it in your CD player, and get more audible enjoyment out of that. Aside from James Hetfield repeatedly calling himself a table on "The View," (fuck what the lyrics say, he is NOT saying 'tablet') you can't even make fun of this. This is just sad. Not only does it bring down one once-mighty name in the music community (Metallica), it brings down Lou Reed as well. Both of their careers are forever marred by this musical tragedy, and nothing can save them. Dave Mustaine could rejoin Metallica and re-record "Kill 'Em All", and it wouldn't help. I'm fucking done with Metallica. To me, they haven't done anything worthwhile since 1984 (save moments of ...And Justice For All), and they're sure as fuck never, ever going to release another Kill 'Em All or Ride the Lightning. Let's just face it, Metallica is over. St. Anger was the first giant misstep, Death Magnetic was the next one, and this is number three--- Three strikes, and you're out, motherfucker. Although, the two aforementioned abominations are sounding better and better each time I think about Lulu. Get Megadeth or Anthrax's new album this fall, and try and forget this artsy-fartsy, hipster-esque piece of shit, or anything else Metallica will ever release again, exists.
Shit, man, I wasn't even this mad with "Master of Puppets..."
Innovation, experimentation, exploration, deviation, whatever the term may be, any craft seems to live and die by it in these modern times. The very notion of a grand new endeavor into untouched territory is at the forefront of everyone's mind. There must be something new, we can't be bothered with such things as consistency or any restraining framework to draw from, our integrity lives and dies by how much distance can be put between a new work and most anything else real or otherwise imaginable. For all the pretentiousness of this extended prelude to what will eventually become an actual point, my purpose is very simply to state that there is none, at least not where the subject of this session on the soapbox is concerned.
As an ardent skeptic of innovation for its own purpose, shock for its own sake, and all the other stupid excuses for creating revolting messes pretending to be art, it is my duty to be dismissive of such things as this latest abortion paraded out as the brainchild of Lou Reed and Metallica, a veritable collaboration made somewhere in the fecal swamps of the Malebolge. Being someone familiar with the concept of "Lulu" from my days as a student of 20th century Expressionist art and music at a respected college, including several classes analyzing the atonal opera penned by Alban Berg covering the same play series this fails at attempting to capture, I can attest to the abysmal nature of this failure of an album, and why even an adherent to the cult of dissonant, non-melodic, non-structured music of the German Avant-garde of which Berg belonged should dismiss it as a bad joke.
But enough with the nonsensical claims of artist relevance that this sloppy collection of sounds hopes to convey. To put it bluntly, this album is pain inducing, not only for the utter randomness it revels in, but because of a very poor presentation from all parties involved. Lou Reed has never been a particular favorite of mine, but his aimless semi-spoken, out of tune ramblings are difficult to stomach, let alone pretend to be amused by. Hetfield's vocals are half-assed and wanting in the same respect that they were on "Death Magnetic", and the riffs presented here are derivative cliches from various eras of Metallica repeated ad nauseam or intermingled with unstructured, directionless non-metal music. The mercifully short opener "Brandenburg Gate" is a perfect display of this, throwing out a rhythmically inconsistent acoustic guitar line right out of a 70s ballad before entering a bizarrely happy down tempo rock groove while Reed rambles about cutting off his legs and tits because of all the early 20th century pop culture references I suppose.
As the album unfolds, so too does the confuted musical ideas and overt lyrical dadaism. Some of the least offensive and more sleep inducing elements of this unfortunate mistake are to be found within the first half of this double album, containing songs that go from moderately to overtly overlong, and revoltingly bad ideas repeated to death. "The View" touts a small collection of doom based rock riffs, "Pumping Blood" attempts to thrash things up with a few cliche riffs and a lot of feedback noise, but no matter which direction things go, an inescapable awkwardness lingers between Lou Reed's idiotic ramblings and the lack of any real stylistic or rhythmic cohesion. Lars' drumming is poorly accomplished, especially with regards to the shoddy, over-processed production job that swallows up his kit. The bass is an out and out non-factor, and Hammett's solos range from uninteresting window-dressing to a logical extension of the painful frustration exuded in the rest of the instrumentation.
For all the terrible things going on during the first half of this disaster, however, the true ugliness of this incipient misconception rears its head in the second. All that can be said about this outlandish niche that has been established is that the longer it goes, the worse it gets. Between the excruciating repetition of "Dragon" and the stagnated ambiance that dominated that latter half of the near 20 minute crap-shoot "Junior Dad", this album just can't seem to cope with the idea that someone is actually supposed to be deriving enjoyment from listening to it. While the first half of this album seems uninterested in the emotional state of its audience, the remaining half is consciously trying to affect it in the most negative way possible.
The ultimate end of any art form is not necessarily a compromise between the capricious demands of any audience and those of the creator, but it is a forgone conclusion that anything hoping to be relevant should at least try to be accessible. But "Lulu" seems to have its own sense of irony in that the audience it has chosen is one of a masochistic nature, indeed, one that would figuratively cut off their own legs and tits before seeing a Metallica release that didn't become a part of their collection. My own desire to walk and manipulate the gas pedal in my car prevents me from the former, while my lack of enthusiasm for the transgender craze of the post-sexual revolution period rules out the latter. If you value your legs and your tits, if you desire James Hetfield to aspire to better things than being a flat, four-legged surface where food consumption takes place, and if you put metal before the religious psychosis of pointless innovation, do not reward this with monetary transactions and mock it whenever possible.
So to begin with, my reasons for listening to this ‘album’ are out of the scope of this review, so I must begin without stating them. So Metallica now thankfully get hold of a new idea with vocalist Lou Reed for a sort of concept album. Now taking into consideration the fact that Metallica lyrics were always hard to decipher because they seldom carried any meaning, the concept album thing is little hard to imagine. But if it is your hope that Lou Reed might bring about some creative spark within the dumb brains of Ulrich and Co., then you are utterly mistaken.
On a technical level, Lou Reed is terrible and will make James Hetfield look like Hansi Kursch. The guitar work is terrible. Do not try to find some riffs anywhere in the album, Metallica forgot how to properly write them by 1992 and totally by 2001. So you cannot expect them to come out suddenly with a Time Does Not Heal which shoves riff after riff down your throats. Kirk Hammett is well to do in his department and somewhere and sometimes within the dry dessert of musical void, you find a decent lead or too to cheer about. Ulrich’s can bashing worsens from his death magnetic days and has no proper rhythm or beats. He does not know about decent fills, so forget about them. The production thankfully is decent compared to the band’s last two outings and the rhythm guitar has a decent sound to it.
So we begin with an age old Metallica ritual of beginning the album with a horrendous acoustic riff. It appears as if Reed was forced to drink a bottle of anti-biotic eye drops before ‘singing’, so bad does he sound. “I would cut my legs and tits off”, well may I help you with it? There is a sort of duet between Reed and Hetfield, with Hetfield bellowing “small town girl” over and over and Reed reading the day’s news report. The upcoming, The View is even more terrible with Reed’s news report getting more and more sleep inducing. The song is mid-paced and the riffs are so poor that will make Enter Sandman look like Coma Of Souls. Pumping Blood has Reed totally speaking, he might well be reading step by step instructions to keep ants off your food when you go for a picnic, or how to protect and defend yourself if you are being ass raped. The song picks up pace after a while and I imagine Ulrich being paralyzed for a couple of weeks for thrashing his cans at that pace. Mistress Dead and Iced Honey are more of the same. Cheat On Me begins slowly and atmospherically, where we actually begin to think that the album would pick up. This is then followed by Reed’s “why do I cheat on me”; you are a brainless retard that is why. The song plods on for eleven minutes with Reed and Hetfield barking “why do I cheat”, over and over and the little troll Ulrich bashing up his cans.
The next disk begins with Frustration, yes that is what we are exactly feeling, for buying the disk. These guys would have made decent psychologists for reading other people’s minds so accurately and naming their songs with the same. The opening riff is decent and might actually be the best off the album. But the rest of the song sucks as much as the others. I won’t go on to give beautiful adjectives for the lyrics as I am afraid to be kicked out of here for indecency of language. Dragon offers a much needed change of pace and is quite memorable due to that. Kirk accomplishes a small distorted lead somewhere in all the news reports. The final song is twenty minutes of useless political speeches and can thrashing of which not even a single minute could be remembered. Come on guys, write a song that can remain interesting for two minutes, and then think of writing twenty minute ones.
This infernal piece of abomination is even worse than St.Anger, Blackwater Park, Unarmed, Risk; you name your worst album, and this will suck far more than that. Where Hetfield was at least tolerable, Reed is not even that. Regardless of what is said and done, he does not sing anywhere in the album. He just blurts out some random line trying hard to catch a tune, but helplessly just cannot. The vocals are even more grating than the BBC weather reporter or my third grade history teacher so infernally bland, tasteless and boring are they. The pace barely moves above the Enter Sandman mid-pace and with so hideous riffs and songs you sure as death would be wanting to go and bash up Ulrich and Co. Above all, this piece of can thrashing and news reports, which this band had decided to call music, is more than eighty minutes long. So after reading all this, the question of buying this must not arise. But if it has, then I might suggest you to switch on BBC news, and watch the weather report of the day. I will say that it has more musical ideas in it than this abominable piece of shit.
Sometimes, an album ends up dropping into your lap that isn’t a necessary listen. Or a recommended release. Or even a guilty pleasure. An album just so OUT THERE that, despite its iffy nature, you just can’t ignore it. That’s exactly what I felt when I learned about Metallica and Lou Reed coming together to record an album. I mean, seriously…Metallica and LOU REED??? Now, for the record, I’m all for different genre collaborations, but there was just something about the two of them throwing songs down that just was a little TOO oblong for its own good. And too oblong to not take notice.
So, let’s find out just how it all went down…
If there was EVER an album that would redefine “mismatch”, THIS should be at the top of the list. Other words come to mind when it comes to “Lulu”. Bizarre. Lifeless. Soulless. But in the end, the two that best describe it would have to be “train wreck pile-up”. By all the gods of death, this is one of the most confusing, slapdash albums I’ve had the misfortune of giving a listen to. It’s not just that it’s BAD (it is, trust me), it also seems so completely unsure of itself, like a multi-track stylistic tug-of-war ending in a penultimate stalemate. Is it metal? Is it rock? Is it country? ALL OF THE ABOVE?? NONE??? I just don’t fucking know! But what I DO know is that it’s so bad that you can’t even laugh at. I’d overheard from a little birdie named Dov that this makes “St. Anger sound like Sgt. Peppers”, and you know what? That little birdie is on to something, as “Lulu”, on a creative aspect, is a disgrace of retardation-inducing proportions. Bear in mind, though, that I’m looking at this as objectively and abstractly as possible, trying to find any redeeming qualities no matter how skimpy or rare, but after repeated bouts of exposure I’ve yet to find ANY.
“Lulu” isn’t on par with the most vapid side of Lordi. It’s not even on the same level as mid-to-late era Ozzy. Hell, this is a HAIR’S-WIDTH away from being on the same spectrum as the worst of post-Tarja Nightwish! And SO MANY ASPECTS of this album are at fault; the watered-down, repetitive semi-thrash riffs, the lack of at least good enough solos, the mid-pacing that doesn’t get any better the more its hammered into the ground, and, worst of all, Mr. Reed’s stroke-addled-like slurring and mistimed warbling that is hardly on key or on time with the rest of the music. It’s almost like Metallica wrote a bunch of half-baked riffs, recorded a simple demo of them being played OVER and OVER and OVER again, and had Lou come up with an even more demo-quality amount of singing the same few lines OVER and OVER and OVER again, ending with a numbing of the mind and ear drums for would-be listeners. It would have been one thing if this was done for personal shits and giggles, but the fact that this has been released as a PROFESSIONAL album just makes the circumstances all the more bothersome and disorienting thanks to tracks like “Brandenburg Gate”, “Pumping Blood“ and “Iced Honey”.
In the end I find no real reason to listen to this, or for it to exist. I wouldn’t consider this even a curio for the most militant of Metallica fans, let alone anyone interested in musicians from different walks of life throwing an album together. Avoid…AVOID!
Originally written for The Offering
This album will beat all the scores on any metal portal. This collaboration record between the old and tired experimental rock singer Lou Reed and the aged thrash metal legend Metallica will probably get the lowest average rating ever by the fans. My rating score will probably be amongst the most favourable reviews because I try to analyze this output from an objective and not an emotional point of view. I may accord a score of twenty-five to this album but emotionally, this is not even worth half of this score indeed. Let's take a look on what happened.
Lou Reed and Metallica decided to work together after having played together live at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame 25th anniversary show. Lou Reed had been working on a conception album featuring passages inspired by the controversial German playwright Frank Wedekind. Lulu tells the story of a desperate and disillusioned woman that is only a shadow of her past and lives a fatal emotionless circle of sex, abuse and despair. The emotionless spoken word vocals by Lou Reed, the minimalist instruments, the experimental style of this album and the cold and simple album cover underline the concept. Let’s note that this album doesn’t feature much of James Hetfield’s vocals and only a few lost thrash riffs. This album is eighty percent Lou Reed and maybe twenty percent Metallica and this estimation is eventually even quite optimistic.
So far, so good but the music itself is even harder to digest as the story itself. The two artists created a lot of overlong tracks with a lack of variation, emotion and diversity. This is no accident but an effect they really wanted to create to bring the story to life and give an authentic and unique twist to this experimental collaboration. The final result included though too many emotionless overlong passages that may even bore the most open-minded and intellectual music fan in the world to death. After two or three minutes, everything is said but the songs are stretched at least three times too much with a peak of almost twenty minutes of dumb and hypnotizing boredom in the final "Junior Dad". Metallica sad that the section of classic music in the second half of the track made them cry and really touched them but I never heard such a boring and closed minded piece of classic music. There are a few additional musicians that play viola, cello, violin and electronic instruments but everything sounds as one big indefinable potpourri. Don't even think about symphonic metal bands such as Therion, Apocalyptica or even Savatage if you read about those guest musicians who know how to mix metal music with classic passages. Even Metallica's controversial "S&M" experiment which I actually liked was way more convincing than this failure.
Almost all songs are overlong, boring and dumb but I really must point out the track "Little Dog". This is by far the worst metal song I have ever listened to in my life. Well, I would not even call this music. It has a more than minimalist and exchangeable instrumental work while Lou Reed uses a completely emotionless and blurry murmured voice to put some almost random spoken word passages over the music for eight long minutes. He has no charisma, no variation and no energy. This can't even be defended by the fact that the band wanted to bring a desperate and emotionless character to life. Music, vocals and lyrics just don't fit together. If you are at this kind of emotional degree, you are already more than suicidal. Even a dog would moan and run away by listening to this incredible piece of garbage and try to commit suicide by biting his own tail off until there is no blood left to be shed. This song is an open insult to psychedelic rock, Krautrock and any progressive Stoner metal as any amateur band of any of these kinds is better and more authentic than what Lou Reed and Metallica deliver with this anti-effort. This sounds like Johnny Cash on a heavy dose of cannabis just before his death. I declare this the worst metal song ever.
Compared to this disasterpiece even the really bad tracks on this overlong double-album merit a few low percentage ratings and vary between horrible and pretty bad. The longer the tracks are, the worse they get. Many critics laughed about the weird "The View" with its strange and ridiculous lyrics but this track turns out to be the most dynamicle and diversified track on the album which is only beaten by the solid opener "Brandenburg Gate" which is simply too short to get redundant even if the chorus is already repeated way too much. I want to underline that we talk about acceptable to mediocre songs and not about good efforts but next to the eight disasterpieces that follow these songs sound like a relief. Anybody that bashed "The View" will be stunned by the high degree of failure of the rest of the record if he or she is tough enough to make it entirely through this record. Sometimes, you can skip five minutes within the song and everything still sounds the same. Let me give you an advice: Don't waste your time and money on that. Don't buy this because you have all the other Metallica records. Don't expect this to grow on you. It will probably even get worse the more youi listen to this. If you didn't like "The View", you'll hate the rest even more. If you liked "The View", chances are elevated you may nevertheless hate the rest. This is the kind of record one person among ten thousand will like but I'm not into this at all.
In the end, the acceptable two first tracks, the story and the at least interesting concept itself and the acceptable sound of the record add a few points to a very bad final rating. I always defended Metallica and I liked all of their experimental works in the past. I'm one of those who adored "Load" and especially "ReLoad" quite a lot and who was able to accept the "St. Anger" record which really grew on me over the years and happens to be among my favourite Metallica albums. "Lulu" just won't grow. There is no diversity. There is no energy. There is no authenticity. Even harsh critics must admit that the controversial "St. Anger" is a masterpiece compared to this, anybody else is really out of his mind. The release date of this garbage is a hard day for the heavy metal universe. But let's see this from a positive point of view. No matter what Metallica will record in the beginning of the next year, the band's upcoming solo record can definitely only be an improvement. But they surely lost a lot of fans with "Lulu" who won't give them any new chance and I can really understand this. What did Metallica think by doing this? I really think they do whatever they want and don’t give a damn about anything else. That’s artistically interesting but commercially suicidal. There is no excuse this time.