Just when you thought METALLICA were back on the redemption track for their near 20 year reign as sell out kings of rock music history, they go and put Lulu out. Few collaborations between two such celebrated artists have turned out as ill-conceived, poorly executed, and abysmal as this record.
First of all, THE VELVET UNDERGROUND’s Lou Reed wrote all the lyrics and does lead vocals. METALLICA handled all the instrumentation/compositions and James Hetfield is on backing vocals.
So what does it sound like? Lou Reed sounds like a crazy old poet doing free form vocal lines that are often all over the place. And when he attempts to actually sing instead of just do his random spoken words, he provides a clinic in off key singing. Lyrically, no one gives a shit what he is rambling about partially because of how awful he sounds. And in case you do tune into his lyrics, they are just plain stupid. In other words, he sounds like total shit.
If you haven’t checked out THE VELVET UNDERGROUND by now, Lulu basically guarantees you will keep things that way.
So you would think that METALLICA learned some lessons in returning to some of the things that made them legends in the 80’s with their last album, but that is clearly not the case. The abominations known as St. Anger and S&M don’t sound as bad compared to Lulu. In what seems like a series of rushed improvisation sessions, the band have tried to write an art rock album with free form or atmospheric nuances. Unfortunately, the music is stricken with terrible riffs, poor songwriting, and poor execution that help create an extremely uncompelling and downright unpleasant listening experience.
Riffs meander and float in space hoping to form a hook or some sense of logic but it’s an overwhelmingly losing endeavor. Songs drag on for what seems like an eternity with no sanctuary in sight. Yes, many songs here are very long. The godawful, “friendly” guitar tones of the Load-era are back. METALLICA also try their hand at various guitar effects, playing styles, and adding classical stringed instrumentation to create a compelling art rock atmosphere but there are a trillion bands who are better than them at this.
Lars Ulrich bestows the world with his worst drumming to date. The free form nature of the music gives Lars more room to take a lead role but his beyond amateurish attempts at drumming 101 are laughable and just plain embarrassing. It’s easy to picture his ridiculous mannerisms and facial expressions as he lays down these tracks. His open gaped mouth like a fish out of water intermingled with his face wincing in the agony of trying to keep a standard drum beat come to mind. There’s a reason why Jason Newsted encouraged him to practice for all those years.
To add insult to injury, the record label is releasing many different versions of this abomination with different packaging and content at different price points. And you know they will all sell a shitload (pun not intended). Look for the Warner Bros. payola machine to peddle this garbage to the world as well as 2011 METALLICA fanboys to defend their old and tired band all across the internet.
When you lack self awareness about your talents and, most importantly, limitations, Lulu is what happens. The sad and pathetic part is that you know deep down inside, Lou Reed and METALLICA earnestly believe that this record is a brilliant collaboration that could warrant successive records together. METALLICA in particular play to all their weaknesses - improvisation, writing music beyond what they do best (their first four records), and the undying mindset that they are boundless. But the reality is, METALLICA stubbornly insist on proving to the world that they can reach new lows.
Lulu should be the final nail in the coffin for the careers of both Lou Reed and METALLICA. Fuck off. (Warner Brothers Records)