Review Summary: 90 minutes of completely pointless musical drivel.5 of 5 thought this review was well written
Many years ago in the second 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 *** 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.