Review Summary: Is this the signal that Rock music is perhaps slowly fading to black?
Metallica are one of the most followed and successful acts in the last 30 years. Their seminal debut record, Kill ‘Em All, was one of ground-breaking albums that defined the Thrash Metal genre, their magnum opus, Master Of Puppets, remains arguably the greatest Metal album ever released, and The Black Album was immensely successful, and cemented Metallica as the Kings of Heavy Metal.
Sounds impressive, but if you were to say Metallica to a normal person, the first word that might come to mind would be “Napster” or “Sell-out.” Metallica have an extensive and infamous history of alienating their rapid fan base since the controversial release of Load, which resulted in unhappy fans. Fans were also disappointed with ReLoad, which was a dismal collection of B-Sides from the Load recording sessions, Garage Inc., which was an unsuccessful attempt at trying to prove they are still a Thrash Metal band, the insufferable and laughable S&M concerts and recordings, and of course, the atrocity of St. Anger. Even Death Magnetic was a vapid attempt at trying to recapture the band’s early Thrash era.
When it was announced that Lou Reed and Metallica were going to record an album together, the news was met with a large amount of sighs and drones amongst the Metal community. Metallica, for all these years have been the most successful heavy metal band of all time, are fading to black in the music business, and all the members in Metallica are now reaching the fifty year old barriers. Lou Reed, is now sixty-nine years old and like Metallica, has built a reputation of recording some interesting but questionable music, the best example of this is his 1975 record Metal Machine Music, which, if you have listened to the album, is basically a bunch of irritating noises in a construction factory being put together. A 30 second preview on Youtube of Lulu’s leading single “The View” of what was to come was met with twice as many dislikes than likes and accusations of the entire release being some kind of joke.
Listening to Lulu for the first time, and indeed the last, you really get the impression that Lou Reed, Metallica and anyone else involved with the project sat down for a lovely lunch, or disgusting in this matter, depending if the quality of their lunch influenced the terribleness of the album, and decided to create excruciatingly long songs with vocals that are offbeat, lyrics that will give you nightmares, intrusive clicking drums and guitar and bass that only the supersonic hearers could hear.
The album’s opener, “Brandenburg Gate”, has you thinking that Metallica have transformed into a late
night Billy Joel tribute act as James Hetfield goes on about a “small-town girl”. Even though the song only lasts for 4 minutes 21 seconds, it becomes boring. “The View” is slightly better, and the Metallica jam that ends the song is half decent, but it’s the drum pattern that becomes irritating. “Pumping Blood” isn’t memorable at all. Reed mutters the title continuously and Lars’ drumming is too intrusive and not very good throughout the whole song. “Mistress Dread” contains a frantic riff and a fast drumbeat, but there is no musical change throughout the song and Reed’s vocals catastrophically are out of time and very slow. The second single off Lulu, “Iced Honey” isn’t terrible by no means, and it lurks back to the Load/ReLoad era, but doesn’t set any benchmarks. “Cheat On Me” clocks in at 11:26, and the first 3 minutes are very reminiscent of Lou Reed’s notorious 1975 LP Metal Machine Music. It is around the 5 minute mark where the song really should begin.
The second disc of this torturous EP is no better than the first. “Frustration” contains the most powerful example of Metallica’s work on the record, but Lars’ drum solos throughout the song becomes a nuisance. “Little Dog” may well just be a new found cure for insomnia, “Dragon” bursts out some breaths of life, but it’s ruined by a very repetitive riff and “Junior Dad” is definitely one of the most pointless songs ever committed to any record in a very long time that lasts an agonising 20 minutes.
The average song length on Lulu is a whopping eight minutes 42 seconds, and three of the songs, “Cheat On Me”, “Dragon” and “Junior Dad” all exceed 11 minutes and contain the same riffs and drum beats being repeated constantly.
Are there any positives? Although Lou Reed’s lyrics are extremely strange, some of the lines in the album are hilarious. Several of them are standouts: “I would cut my legs and tits off”, “The cook got drunk and all the whores they shrunk”, “Like a coloured man’s dick”, “I’m a women who likes men” and “To be dry and spermless like a girl” are all worth actually listening to the album, but the greatest lyric on Lulu is sung by James Hetfield in “The View” in all his glory, where he says, and I quote, “I am a table.”
Metallica will certainly want to avoid performing any of this stuff live to avoid a wave of boos and hisses from die-hard fans that most likely hate Lulu with a passion. As for Reed, he won’t have to deal with any severe criticism despite a statement that claims death threats have been sent to him. If there are any Lou Reed fans left, they might enjoy the EP. It’s very difficult to predict whether Metallica’s next step will be a pleasant one. Of course, we could be wrong.
• Comedic lyrics
• Vocals are out of time
• Drums are intrusive and too loud
• Guitar and Bass are too soft
• Riffs and beats are repeated over and over
• Longer songs are very excruciating to listen to
• Entire EP is too long
• Very hard to choose a favourite, but “The View” is probably the best song on the record.
FINAL RATING: 1.5 / 5