Review Summary: I don't think these lads can hold their ale
Innovation, experimentation, exploration, deviation, whatever the term may be, any craft seems to live and die by it in these modern times. The very notion of a grand new endeavor into untouched territory is at the forefront of everyone's mind. There must be something new, we can't be bothered with such things as consistency or any restraining framework to draw from, our integrity lives and dies by how much distance can be put between a new work and most anything else real or otherwise imaginable. For all the pretentiousness of this extended prelude to what will eventually become an actual point, my purpose is very simply to state that there is none, at least not where the subject of this session on the soapbox is concerned.
As an ardent skeptic of innovation for its own purpose, shock for its own sake, and all the other stupid excuses for creating revolting messes pretending to be art, it is my duty to be dismissive of such things as this latest abortion paraded out as the brainchild of Lou Reed and Metallica, a veritable collaboration made somewhere in the fecal swamps of musical hell.
But enough with the nonsensical claims of artist relevance that this sloppy collection of sounds hopes to convey. To put it bluntly, this album is pain inducing, not only for the utter randomness it revels in, but because of a very poor presentation from all parties involved. Lou Reed has never been a particular favorite of mine, but his aimless semi-spoken, out of tune ramblings are difficult to stomach, let alone pretend to be amused by. Hetfield's vocals are half-assed and wanting in the same respect that they were on "Death Magnetic", and the riffs presented here are derivative cliches from various eras of Metallica repeated ad nauseam or intermingled with unstructured, directionless non-metal music. The mercifully short opener "Brandenburg Gate" is a perfect display of this, throwing out a rhythmically inconsistent acoustic guitar line right out of a 70s ballad before entering a bizarrely happy down tempo rock groove while Reed rambles about cutting off his legs and tits because of all the early 20th century pop culture references I suppose.
As the album unfolds, so too does the confuted musical ideas and overt lyrical dadaism. Some of the least offensive and more sleep inducing elements of this unfortunate mistake are to be found within the first half of this double album, containing songs that go from moderately to overtly overlong, and revoltingly bad ideas repeated to death. "The View" touts a small collection of doom based rock riffs, "Pumping Blood" attempts to thrash things up with a few cliche riffs and a lot of feedback noise, but no matter which direction things go, an inescapable awkwardness lingers between Lou Reed's idiotic ramblings and the lack of any real stylistic or rhythmic cohesion. Lars' drumming is poorly accomplished, especially with regards to the shoddy, over-processed production job that swallows up his kit. The bass is an out and out non-factor, and Hammett's solos range from uninteresting window-dressing to a logical extension of the painful frustration exuded in the rest of the instrumentation.
For all the terrible things going on during the first half of this disaster, however, the true ugliness of this incipient misconception rears its head in the second. All that can be said about this outlandish niche that has been established is that the longer it goes, the worse it gets. Between the excruciating repetition of "Dragon" and the stagnated ambiance that dominated that latter half of the near 20 minute crap-shoot "Junior Dad", this album just can't seem to cope with the idea that someone is actually supposed to be deriving enjoyment from listening to it. While the first half of this album seems uninterested in the emotional state of its audience, the remaining half is consciously trying to affect it in the most negative way possible.
The ultimate end of any art form is not necessarily a compromise between the capricious demands of any audience and those of the creator, but it is a forgone conclusion that anything hoping to be relevant should at least try to be accessible. But "Lulu" seems to have its own sense of irony in that the audience it has chosen is one of a masochistic nature, indeed, one that would figuratively cut off their own legs and tits before seeing a Metallica release that didn't become a part of their collection. My own desire to walk and manipulate the gas pedal in my car prevents me from the former, while my lack of enthusiasm for the transgender craze of the post-sexual revolution period rules out the latter. If you value your legs and your tits, if you desire James Hetfield to aspire to better things than being a flat, four-legged surface where food consumption takes place, and if you put metal before the religious psychosis of pointless innovation, do not reward this with monetary transactions and mock it whenever possible.