METALLICA — Lulu (with Lou Reed) (review)

METALLICA — Lulu (with Lou Reed) album cover Album · 2011 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
1/5 ·
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.
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