METALLICA — Lulu (with Lou Reed)

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METALLICA - Lulu (with Lou Reed) cover
1.73 | 74 ratings | 11 reviews
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Album · 2011

Filed under Heavy Metal
By METALLICA

Tracklist

Disc 1
1. Brandenburg Gate (4:19)
2. The View (5:17)
3. Pumping Blood (7:24)
4. Mistress Dread (6:52)
5. Iced Honey (4:36)
6. Cheat on Me (11:26)

Disc 2
1. Frustration (8:33)
2. Little Dog (8:01)
3. Dragon (11:08)
4. Junior Dad (19:28)

Total Time 87:04

Line-up/Musicians

- Lou Reed / vocals, guitar, continuum
- James Hetfield / vocals, guitar
- Kirk Hammett / guitar
- Robert Trujillo / bass
- Lars Ulrich / drums
with
- Sarth Calhoun / Electronics
- Jenny Scheinman / Violin, Viola & String Arrangements
- Megan Gould / Violin
- Ron Lawrence / Viola
- Marika Hughes / Cello
- Ulrich Maas / Cello on "Little Dog" and "Frustration"
- Rob Wasserman / Stand Up Electric Bass on "Junior Dad"
- Jessica Troy / Viola on "Junior Dad"

About this release

Type: Studio album
Release Date: October 31, 2011 (November 1, 2011 in North America)
Record Company: Universal/Warner Bros

A collaborative album by Lou Reed and Metallica, based on material written by Reed.

Thanks to Pekka for the addition and Stooge, adg211288, mlkpad14 for the updates

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METALLICA LULU (WITH LOU REED) reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Vim Fuego
Metallica fans hate the fuck out of “Lulu”, and if it were a genuine Metallica album, this would be fully justified. I mean, take a look at it.

It’s a high concept album, based on two plays by German playwright Frank Wedekind, which in turn was turned into mostly spoken word poetry by Lou Reed, a man whose musical career is a real world embodiment of the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. And the whole album is basically Reed droning on over some very bare bones music, which sounds like rough, rejected Metallica riffs from various times between 1984 and 1994. Any album which starts with a 69-year-old man channelling the spirit of a young girl drawling “I would cut my legs and tits off/When I think of Boris Karloff and Kinski/In the dark of the moon” isn’t going to go down well with a crowd who are more used to albums kicking off with “Lashing out the action, returning the reaction/Weak are ripped and torn away” or “Do unto others as they have done unto you/But what in the hell is this world coming to?”

But that’s the biggest problem with “Lulu” right there. It’s NOT a Metallica album. It’s a Lou Reed album, with Metallica as his backing band. The writing credits are all Reed’s, with Metallica as collaborators, and the whole album sounds like it.

And back to the self-amputation of legs and tits. This is the lead-off track “Brandenburg Gate”. Instantly, it’s obvious it’s not Metallica, but rather Lou Reed strained through a Metallica filter. “The View” sounds like a cross between Hero of the Day and King Nothing, but for the vocal delivery and lyrics. “Pumping Blood” pumps like, well… a heart, which is a blood pump. And then it goes into a section which bears a slight resemblance to the introduction to Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing”.

“Mistress Dread” is an industrial loop freakout, the likes of which Metallica has never created before, repeating the same frantic (no not that fucking “Frantic”!) simplified stuck-record riff over and over, overlaid with drones and scrapes, and a depraved mistress caterwauling a missive to a lover over it. It’s the fastest thing Metallica has recorded since “Dyer’s Eve”.

“Iced Honey” bears striking similarities to Reed’s own “Sweet Jane”, and features his most tuneful vocal on the whole album. Musically, this wouldn’t have felt out of place on one of Metallica’s “Load” albums. The gentle intro to “Cheat On Me” sounds goes sour, and build into a brooding, throbbing self-examination.

There are a couple of quiet-ish songs which wander off into pointlessness. There seems to be little point to the self-flagellating “Little Dog”, and the minimalist “Dragon”. These are ambient spoken word tracks, until “Dragon” unexpectedly bursts into a full on rock track which wouldn’t have been out of place on the Black Album, except for Kirk Hammett’s schizophrenic lead guitar seizure. Reed’s vocals are some of his most aggressive and angriest on the whole album.

“Junior Dad” is a nineteen-and-a-half-minute marathon, which basically stretches a simple little rock ballad into a drawn-out ambient fade to musical oblivion, the last seven minutes seeming totally unnecessary, but hey, it was all part of Lou Reed’s vision, which the rest of us don’t need to understand.

Metallica exploded in the metal scene in the 1980s because they challenged the metal and musical establishment. Lou Reed, both as a solo artist and with the Velvet Underground, also challenged the musical establishment, but at a more fundamental level, even messing with the concept of what music actually is (see 1975’s “Metal Machine Music”). It seems that while Metallica were up for this deeper challenge, a lot of their fans weren’t. The obscure and emotionally confronting source material was perhaps too oblique for Metallica’s usual audience. “Lulu” isn’t easy to listen to. There are no songs of pure metal aggro, no comforting sing-along choruses, no searing solos, and very few big bollocked chugging riffs. “Lulu” delivers subtle new surprises every time you listen to it, but it seems it so alienated many listeners it won’t often get a second listen.

In essence, the biggest band in metal was reduced to the role of hired guns. Here it seemed they had surrendered creative control almost entirely to someone else, managing to throw in a few spontaneous studio jams, but otherwise totally in submissive bondage to Lou Reed’s ambiguous, androgynous vision. The lyrics and subject matter most certainly weren’t what the long-established team of Hefield/Ulrich would ever come up with. For example, what does “I puke my guts out at your feet/You’re more man than I/To be dead to have no feeling/To be dry and spermless like a girl” even mean? For a band usually in total control, it proved to be difficult to handle. Lars Ulrich was even called out by Reed at one point, challenging him to a street fight. Jason Newsted would have been entitled to have a bit of a chuckle at hearing this...

By 2011 when “Lulu” was released, Metallica was big enough that they could easily take risks like this collaboration and record an album which wasn’t a true Metallica album at it’s core, and the damage to their career would be minimal if it didn’t pay off. Lou Reed was long past caring what others thought of him, and understood the value of creating something just for the sake of creating it. His long-time friend David Bowie called it one of Reed’s greatest works, while Reed’s widow, electronica pioneer Laurie Anderson said “…this was really challenging, and I have a hard time with it.”

“Lulu” definitely didn’t pay off commercially, but it remains as a historic marker as to where the band, and a whimsical creative man, were at artistically and emotionally at this time.
The Angry Scotsman
Oh my...here to begin?

When I heard Metallica and Lou Reed were doing a collaboration, I was intrigued to say the least. What on Earth would that sound like? While I had no idea what to expect, safe to say it was not this.

I have to have a bit of fun, there were some young, (my age) Metallica fans that started discussing Lou Reed, and I knew they had absolutely no idea who he was. I thus enjoyed their utter horror at this album, clearly having no idea this was never going to be a standard Metallica album.

Then there's the Metallica purists who haven't liked the band since "selling out" 20 years before, and the die hard Metallica fans, who hated this because it doesn't sound like Metallica. Some of course hate anything this band does, while fans of Lou Reed were also pretty displeased with this. Never have I seen such a diverse hatred for an album.

Well, what about the music itself? This has been a difficult review to write. I tried to free myself of all these outside influences, sat down and really listened to this, digested it and really wanted to think about the music. Keep in mind, I actually think St Anger isn't so bad, so I'd say I'm fair as possible. What did I finally come up with for "Lulu"?

Messy. Random. Boring. Laborious. Painful. Unrewarding. A failed attempt at being experimental.

"Lulu" is a lot of simple, boring music. Emphasis on a lot. 87 minutes! Most of it sounds random, like it was not even constructed but just thrown together and the songs drag on and on. Lou Reed does spoken word over this musical train wreck, and age has gotten the best of him. There's no way to put it: he sounds terrible. His singing is no better, and in all fairness I think James Hetfield doesn't sound very good either.

There is no hand holding, this album goes right into it. A nice acoustic guitar intro leads into Reed's nasaly, raspy voice delivering the fairly hilarious opener "I would cut my legs and tits off". There's a cool droning riff that kicks in with James howling while Lou continues on. It works, for a bit. It became quite boring though and felt longer than a 4 minute song should.

"The View" became a bit of an internet sensation due to the line "I am the table!" being shouted by James, but this song is actually pretty good! There is a simple, but cool, riff that plays as Lou Reed delivers spoken word over it, slowly and subtly building to a brief, moderately up tempo crescendo with James singing. It shifts back to Lou, building back up to another James crescendo and finishing off with some shred like soloing, transitioning back to that churning, chuggy riff.

The reason this song works is because it was well constructed. It never grows tiresome because it builds. There are some minor changes to the drum work as the riff drones on, there is progression opposed to simply going on without change. The crescendos hit hard, the settle downs feel more impactful, there are some solos and neat guitar work sprinkled throughout. There is variation, progress, a coherent song structure. Thus no part gets stale or feels awkward, and there is enough going on to keep you there.

Unfortunately this can't be said for the rest of the album. Sure there are good moments sprinkled throughout, but it's like dumpster diving to find them, a big dumpster and all you find are nickles. There's not much reward for all the work and filth. Whenever "Metallica" comes through, it's generally simple and uninteresting. Little technical skill or songwriting ability is displayed.

The album actually finishes on a pretty good note. The only other good song, "Junior Dad" is a 19 minute journey, and I don't use that word lightly. The song actually moves. Peaks and valleys, builds, some nice riffs, melodies and songwriting. There are many textured parts and the drumming is simple but effective, and throws enough unexpected moments and fills in there to keep your head bobbing. Much of the second half are just strings, but it's quite beautiful and is a fitting end to this slow paced, gentle yet moving song.

I wanted to emphasize those two songs, "The View" and "Junior Dad" to give this album some positive words. The pretty good pieces of bread that hold together this sandwich of minimalist droning, noise, spoken word, hard rock all smushed together randomly. I have read that most of this album is improv, and it shows. Kudos for the ambition, but it's not something I think Metallica proved very capable of doing.

I always applaud a band for doing something different, for experimenting and for challenging their fans. I understand this is what Metallica was doing with "Lulu". They have always been a band to try something new, no matter the criticism, and "Lulu" takes it to the nth degree. Metallica is saying we've been around for 30 years, sold 100 million albums, we have everything we could want so we're gunna do something different, something we want and no fucks are gunna be given. While I admire the effort, it is not successful. Just like how people shouldn't automatically hate something without giving it a fair try, a band experimenting doesn't mean it needs to win our approval just for doing so.

"Lulu" has 2 good songs, the rest of which is boring and frankly, terrible. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes painful, I am hesitant to give this album even a one star rating, because even a completionist will be A OK not having this album in their collection. Yes, it may not even be worth having solely to complete a collection, no one would blame you. That said, it's not 100% garbage so I can't give it a half.

ONE STAR
Warthur
Lou Reed has crafted a masterful, finely-produced concept album which is inspired by the German expressionism of the inter-war period and updates those ideas for the modern day, backed by a competent backing band of highly capable musicians who expertly bring his ideas to life. That album is called "Berlin", he put it out in 1973 and it's really quite excellent.

Lulu, on the other hand, wow. A lot of words have been written, spoken, and yelled about Lulu from the point of view of it being a Metallica album - and as far as Metallica albums go, it's pretty poor - but I want to spend a little time to speak about it from the perspective of a Lou Reed fan. As I outline above, the album occupies territory which Lou has already covered, and covered more than adequately over the course of his solo career. The fact that he is choosing to revisit it with Metallica only shows how short on ideas the guy is these days. (His other most recent endeavour? Trying to put across the idea that the Metal Machine Music album was a serious artistic statement and touring with a trio playing similar noise. Sorry Lou, the noise rock bandwagon already left you in the dust.)

I love him for the contributions he made to proto-punk and glam back in the day, but the fact is that he just can't cut it as a lyricist or a singer any more. Putting him front of Metallica only makes these problems even more blindingly obvious than they already are.
Andyman1125
To many Metallica seemed to be a dead horse the moment the band released their eighth studio album St. Anger in 2003. The amateur production, undeveloped and raunchy compositions, and overall rather, well, bad album seemed to signal the death of the once most popular metal band in the world. Band tensions were at an all-time high, and the band seemed to be on the verge of dissolution. Yet, the band returned in 2008 with the significantly better Death Magnetic. The album signaled the apparent return to their thrash metal riffs, and while the songs on the album were not as progressive or forward thinking as some on their earlier albums, the album was decisively not bad. When the band announced in 2011 that they were to be collaborating with legendary experimental artist Lou Reed, understandably many fans were rather frightened at the prospect. The two famous musicians, Lou Reed and Metallica as a whole, are very well known not only for their strong headed beliefs but also their general jerk-ish nature. While other similarities may have made it seem as the collaboration might have had some lick of potential, the interesting pairing was bound to have issues. Lou Reed, who is just about 70 years old, is certainly in no position to start making music with a famous metal band. Metallica, whose strong headedness and desire to not care about anyone else in the music business, was not exactly in the position to make music with this 70 year old musician. Nevertheless, LULU was made. The LULU project was an interesting concept to say the least. The album is a double concept album based off the drama of the same name by playwright Frank Wedekind. Reed was allowed to lead the vocal output as well as write all the lyrics. What emerged was the single "The View." The song was abrasive, to say the least. Reed's more "elderly" voice recites his amateurish "poetry" in a spoken word style over Metallica's thrash metal based riffs. The riffs weren't the most creative the band's ever produced, and Reed's choppy vocal work made the whole song entirely humorous. This laughable effort made me, as well as most critics and fans, very worried about the overall release.

The listener's trepidations were answered on Halloween 2011 with the official album release. The 80+ minute album was a true pain to endure through. Reed's vocal performance on "The View" is sadly one of the best on the album, with his vocal work on "Brandenburg Gate" and "Cheat on Me" being especially horrendous. I must say if I begin to laugh hysterically at any body of music that is meant to be released entirely seriously is not a good sign. The awkward, badly coordinated and uncomfortable don't aid this either. While the music behind the awkward vocals as well as James Hetfield's strong backing vocals are overall "good," I really can't take Lou Reed's chanting seriously.

Somehow I can see how the band seemed to enjoy making this album. The music they wrote is not bad. It has that thrash flair that was present on Death Magnetic and is overall quite good for the classic thrash band. They obviously still have somewhat of an experimental bone in them, and what they heard of Lou Reed's dissonant screeching must have impressed them somehow. Also, I can see that they thought it might have been cool to stick to the music industry with this album. Somehow they succeeded in not only drawing me in to the album but getting it and listening to it a number of times, despite the fact that I hated near every listen. There is a point where "avant-garde" and "experimental" becomes "terrible" and "pointless," and this album has for sure crossed that threshold by many miles.

There's not much more to say on Metallica's tenth studio album. The album, pointlessly running at over 87 minutes, is spread over two discs and is a laborious listen the whole way through. Each song has something hysterical to laugh at, and usually its Reed's warbling spoken word vocals. The album also features a few "epics," most notably the pointlessly long 19-minute drone piece "Junior Dad," which really ends at 3 minutes yet continues on for another 16 minutes in a vindictive rant of droney strings, Reed's occasionally haunting wolf moan, occasional actual music, and an overall pointless run of ambient mush. In the end, LULU has shown itself to be Metallica's most controversial release yet, and it doesn't tilt in their favor. 1 star.
progshine
People are funny, really funny. The ones called 'trolls' are all over the internet. You can't make anything different cause they'll complain, but if you release the same record every year... they'll complain as well.

I've been never a Metallica fan, always thought Load better than the Black Album, ...And Justice For All better than Master Of Puppets and despite the fact I don't like it, I do understand St. Anger. Never been a Lou Reed fan as well, just heard the 1972's Transformer and I don't like Velvet Underground, yeah, maybe I'm not the best one to listen Lulu, but, who cares?!?

What made me listen this record, that is still available for streaming (www.loureedmetallica.com/listen-to-lulu.php) was the fact that something different was being made on our tired musical world.

For me, the only thing that is really awfull in Lulu are the drums being beated by Lars, but, at this point, everybody is used already to his terrible drums.

Some of the songs here are quite too long and James definitely had to sing more cause he have a very good voice and Lou sounds too tired for me (maybe the years are being really heavy on him). Metallica at the end brought some very good riffs and great melodies, but, really, nothing really outstanding, fantastic or original.

The album as a whole, is very experimental, and if you open your head, and really stop to listen it, not just play it as a soundtrack while you 'troll' someone on Facebook or Twitter, it's possible to find a lot of good moments, even not being an album for all moments But of course, the silly Metallica fans that will eternally have 15 years old (even if they're 40) will not do that. They'll just say it's the wors thing ever. Maybe the Lou Reed fans get it.
Time Signature
I am the table...

Genre: (old f)art metal

This release is, if nothing else, interesting. It has received a lot of criticism so far, and this criticism seems to be primarily directed at Lou Reed's vocals. I can kind of follow that, as Lou Reed definitely is an acquired taste (I mean, his first lines in 'Pumping Blood' should be enough to turn any power-vocals-loving metal fan off). I am not a Lou Reed fan, but I kind of like how his spoken word-ish vocals are laid on top of the heavy music. Yes, it is a bit arty-farty, and, yes, when he tries to sing, he's off-key and all that. But the tension between the spoken-word, poetry-slam-like vocals and Metallica's heavy music works quite well, in my opinion.

Tracks like 'The View' and 'Frustration' are actually quite cool. They are heavy and sort of groovy with a couple of uptempo sloppy passages every now and then, and I quite like Lou Reed's spoken word-ish vocals that are overlaid on top of the music - and then there is, of course, James Hetfield's new slogan "I am the table!" in 'The View'. And the following track 'Pumping Blood' with its ventures into both alt rock, thrash metal, noise rock and more traditional metal is another interesting track I think where Lou Reed's bizarre vocals go well with the music. The dark and acoustic 'Little Dog' also comes across quite okay, which also applies to 'Dragon' where the intensity of Reed's vocals actually follow the rises and falls of intensity in the music (something which some of the other tunes on the album lack).

Of course, not everything is swell and dandy, and the opening track 'Brandenburg Gate' is a bit too sloppy for my tastes, while the fierce repetitive primitive thrash riff that constitutes the majority of the musical make-up of the tune does not go especially well with Reed's moaning vocals here (well, to be fair, it's Reed's vocal that don't go well with the music), and the atmospheric noise in the background ends up being sort of annoying. Also, while otherwise a cool track, the "spermless like a girl" breakdown of 'Frustration' sort of falls flat and comes across as unintentionally funny.

I think that the one track where it all comes together the best is 'Iced Honey' - probably because it sounds like a more typical Lou Reed song which has just been added distorted guitars. It comes across as a melancholic and repetitive hard rock song whose sloppiness goes well together with the Lou Reed aspect of this release.

So, yes, I think this is an interesting release and I am glad that I have not just rejected it before listening to it, because I found it enjoyable, and, while it will never be a 'Kill 'em All', 'Ride the Lightning', 'Master of Puppets', '...And Justice for All', 'Metallica', 'Death Magnetic' or even 'St. Anger' - not by a long shot - I do enjoy this release much more than 'Load' and 'Reload'. Also, if one ignores the vocals and lyrics and focuses on the music itself, one will find that it is actually not that bad - apart from 'Junior Dad' which I think is too long, and boring, for its own good.

And, detractors, take comfort in the fact that this is not a 'real' Metallica album, but more of an experimental project (had this been a proper Metallica album, it would have been unforgivable... even to me). Let's hope that their next album proper will more in line with "Death Magnetic" and in the meantime accept this release for what it is.
adg211288
Lulu is a collaborative double disc studio album by American rock musician Lou Reed (of The Velvet Underground fame) and thrash/heavy metal band Metallica. The music on the album, although principally written by Reed, is more in the heavy metal vein than anything. Although Metallica’s James Hetfield provides vocals on the album he is pretty much a secondary vocalist to Reed, so sometimes it seems that despite the style Lulu is much more of a Lou Reed release than it is a Metallica release, and he just hired Metallica as his backing band. Since this is a metal site this review will be aimed towards Metallica’s fans, although to be honest the album may hold more appeal to Reed’s fanbase all things considered.

Right from the first track, Brandenburg Gate, it’s easily to tell that Lulu isn’t going to be your typical album. Actually scratch that, you know that before you’ve even heard it because of the two distinct musical worlds that are teaming up for the album. On paper Lou Reed and Metallica don’t go together, so really before you’ve even heard this you know that the album is either going to be amazing, or it’s going to make you go running back to St. Anger and beg for forgiveness. So which is it?

Sadly it is most probably the latter. Perhaps in his own field Lou Reed’s vocals work but over Metallica’s heavy metal he just sounds totally out of place. I’d go as far to say that Lulu sounds like heavy metal karaoke when someone’s embarrassing Dad has got up to sing. As harsh as the statement sounds, take a listen to a track like Mistress Dread and you’ll hear exactly what I mean. James Hetfield’s vocals are better but less common than Reed’s. It’s kind of sad to note though that Hetfield actually sounds better in what vocal parts he has here than on Death Magnetic, although admittedly not by much.

Lyrically Lulu is often ridiculous. Single release The View showcases this pretty well, with Hetfield delivering a line that will perhaps ultimately be the most memorable thing on the album, “I am the table!”. I guess it all fits in with the ‘artistic’ nature of the release, but it ultimately makes the album an even more difficult listen. Lulu is most certainly a weird one, and not in any sort of avant-garde sense, since the music actually seems pretty standard, that’s probably because Lulu seems structured so you focus on the lyrics and thus the album’s concept. Bearing in mind that it is a two disc album, with a total running time of around eighty-seven minutes, none of this makes Lulu an exactly exciting listen.

Maybe it is just too much for us mere mortals to really comprehend, but Lulu is one of the most boring albums I have ever come across. By the time the first disc is over (six of the ten tracks, but actually the shorter disc due to the near twenty minute track Junior Dad on disc two) I’m bored out of my tree. Most of the tracks drag on and on with what may just as well have been senseless droning. It doesn’t matter if they are long or short, every track on Lulu suffers from the same problem that they inspire boredom to set in quickly since the music is very repetitive and Reed’s vocals are totally characterless. Very rarely is there even a memorable riff that us metalheads can really sink our teeth into and after the track Iced Honey is over all we’re left with is lengthy tracks of at least eight minutes all the way to the album’s end. Although it seems designed to focus on the concept because it is so boring I actually find this an incredibly difficult thing to do because my attention wanders far too easily so I really have no idea what the hell is going on, although again in line with how repetitive it is I’d like a pound for every time Reed repeats the same lyrics during these lengthy tracks, but even if some cutting down had been done, I think this would still be boring. The album most certainly does not make the most of being a double disc; the ratio of good parts in the music to the drivel is very poor. One disc would have been enough. Two is almost unbearable.

Although I never felt the need to turn Lulu off in disgust I was coming to just wish it would end long before its eventual completion. The album goes beyond being just bad really. It’s dismal, way too drawn out and boring. Lulu is quite easily the worst thing Metallica has put to their name, and yes that includes the infamous St. Anger. Metallica fans, it’s my humble opinion that you can safely avoid Lulu. I’m not so sure about Lou Reed’s fans. I’m not at all familiar with his own work in order to comment on how Reed’s fans may find Lulu, but even taking a moment to consider Lulu as a part of the wider musical landscape it’s still extremely boring. There’s not really anything else that can be said about it, except this one last thing.

I AM THE TABLE!

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scored at 1.0/10, "Utterly Dismal")

Members reviews

mlkpad14
Overall, LuLu is a good experimental album.

It has some drawbacks: it doesn't flow good, and I don't think Lou Reed's voice really fits with the instrumentals.

I love both Metallica and Lou Reed.

Metallica have always been ridiculed for their new material. St. Anger is one of my favorite albums of all time, and yet no one could stand their sound on that album. Metallica's new album is also awesome, yet people look down on it just because "the old stuff is better".

Lou Reed is an old rock n' roller, and a true 70s experimentalist. He has a real great voice; he's so talented with words. The Velvet Underground were groundbreaking when they came out - they are still a real treat.

Put that together... these artists were having fun. Atonal pieces are hard to get into; this one wasn't done the best either. Still good, though... Why all the hate?
kluseba
his 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.
optisailor2002
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.

Originally written for http://www.heavymetaltribune.com/
Doomster
I once had an interesting discussion with a Metallica elitist.

Elitist: Did you hear the new Metallica album with Lou Reed?

Me: Yeah, what about it?

Elitist: What about it? Are you kidding? It's terrible! It's the worst album of the decade for sure!

Me: Care to elaborate?

Elitist: They sold out!

Me: How did they sell out?

Elitist: Because they went for a cash grab with this new album, LuLu!

Me: Dwell on the aspects you dislike about it?

Elitist: Metallica cut their hair and stopped drinking beer, and then got together with an old guy who makes noise music! It's just a bunch of ambience and stuff! There's no RIFFS, man! It's just Metallica playing some shitty powerchords that sound like Black Sabbath over my grandpa lecturing me! HELL NO! BLACK SABBATH SUCKS! METALLICA ARE THE GOODEST METAL BAND IN THE WORLD!

Me: Metallica were experimenting. They weren't expecting anyone to like it. And you insulting Black Sabbath without acknowledging their importance? Wow, dude. Cutting their hair and reverting to sobreity does not make their music bad. Plenty of bands who look standard and don't do drugs can make amazing music. And there is plenty of riffs on this album. Did you even listen to it yet?

Elitist: No shit, dumbass! Everything about this album sucks! It has no redeeming qualities! The riffs are good, but go nowhere!

Me: You just said there are no riffs, then said that it has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, then complemented the riffs. Time paradox, much...?

Elitist: Screw you man! What I mean is, there are no REAL riffs! I want heavy thrash riffs! I want Ride The Lightning and Kill 'Em All reycled over and over and over! I don't want them experimenting! They should make it a goal to please their fans!

Me: So you want Master Of Puppets Part II? You want absolutely nothing differentiating from the previous efforts whatsoever?

Elitist: Exactly!

Me: You're an idiot, then.

Elitist: The vocals also suck! I wanna hear James sing, and he almost never does! Lou Reed is just boring!

Me: I'm actually quite fond of his monotonous drawl. He adds atmosphere, uniqueness, and experimentation to this album. Something you obviously can't tolerate.

Elitist: Are you actually implying that you like this album?!

Me: Well, yes. It's not perfect, but it is good. Why is it good? Because I can appreciate musical evolution.

Elitist: Fuck you. *Walks off*

Me: When will people learn to appreciate a band going in a different direction? *Sigh*

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