If it's crap ... We'll tell you
In recent years, both Lou Reed and Metallica have become casualities of their own creations, however, there's no denying the fact that both of these artists have made cruicial contributions to the industry. But that was the past. It's 2011, These are the times of Gaga and Bieber, who would think that a collaboration between metals biggest band and rock n roll's crypt keeper would be a good idea?
So before we get into this review let's have a quick recap of what's been happening here. Let's go back 35 years. Lou Reed releases 'Rock and Roll Heart'...and after this the Lou Reed thrill has gone. He has even stated that after the release of this record he "had no fans left". But a rock pioneer none the less, and even without a solo career Reed had already cemented his place in rock history with the Velvet Underground. Now let's go forward 10 years. Metallica, a dirty thrash band from the Bay Area, releases the juggernaut 'Master of Puppets'. Often called the greatest metal album of all time, quintessential when it comes to any metal heads collection. The long and short of the next 25 years is this. Metallica goes art, and Lou Reed wanders around. Then in 2009, an onstage collaboration saw Metallica performing Sweet Jane with Lou Reed, and thus began a partnership that has given metal fans a thirst for blood.
You can't help be curious as to what exactly a Lou Reed/Metallica album would sound like, and when the public were given a chance to view 30 seconds of an album that strecthes over 80 minutes, they, for lack of a better word, lost their shit. I must admit, it was quite bizzare, a song entitled The View showcased Lou's trademark monotone/spoken word vocal style, matched with Metallica bashing the absolute hell out of their instruments, closing the segment was Jame's Hetfield bellowing the chorus in his instantly recognisable growl. Now I am a huge Metallica fan, but to call myself a huge Reed fan would be quite the overstatement. Anything Metallica does; I will donate my hard earned dollars towards any piece of shit they release. So when the day finally came, I strolled in, paid for it, and set myself up for what I was sure was going to be ear rape. But as I listened, I couldn't help but be amazed. This is a necessary album, and an album that needs to be heard.
Lulu, is based on a 19th century German play about a small town girl who comes to the big city to live the dream, but things don't go the way she'd like, and hijinks ensue. The album kicks off with 'Brandenburg Gate', a slow acoustic guitar backs Reed's vocals, the song opens with "I would cut my legs and tits off" so instantly you know that Reed hasn't lost his quirky, dark touch. Then the song explodes with Metallica's undenaiable heavyness. However, this is not the Metallica ypu have come to love (or loathe). It doesn't feel like a Metallica riff. It's almost like something that was taken from the unused tapes from the Load and Reload days. It feels almost awkward in a way. The next song is the previously released 'The View'. Kicked off by perhaps the worst, and I mean WORST drumming Lars Ulrich has ever churned out. Now he is in no way a bad drummer, but this sounds like he let his child have a quick go and went "fuck me that's pretty good". It's so banal and ugly that for me, it almost ruined the song. But never fear, Hetfield saves the day by producing what is arguably the best riff on the album. One thing that stands out on this album is the lyrics, in this song in particular. Even attempting to read them from the booklet, still leaves you going "what the fuck?". A prime example is the chorus, in which Hetfield proclaims to be "the table" and "the root". Really asks the question, what seperates 'deep' from 'retarded'.
The album then goes through a number of bizzare violin segments and harmonics that invoke a grimace. Infact, the entire album has that feeling. If you played the Kirk Hammet drinking game you'd remain sober because the man is almost absent from this album. He'll occasionaly poke in everynow and again just to keep up appearances. Rob, the bassist, just seems to shadow the guitars. No oustanding bass lines in this, really just there to thicken the music. Ten songs that end up stretching over an hour and 20 minutes, an hour and 20 minutes of sheer awkwardness. If you stopped reading now you'd probably think that this really isn't worth your time. But think again.
The day this album was released was the same day as the new Megadeth album. As you may or may not know, Metallica and Megadeth are part of 'the big four' of thrash metal. Now, Megadeth's new album is really just another Megadeth record. It's what you'd expect. Fast guitars, fast kicks, fast...well, music. But Lulu...Lulu is something out of this world. Noone, and I do mean noone, makes music like this. In this day an age you would have to be a complete head case to put your career and integrity on the line to do something so outlandish as this, but it goes to show, that both of these artists, are willing to do something so out of the ordinary that it becomes extraordinary. This album needs to be heard.
This has been the year of collaborations, but Lulu is definetly the most publisized. It may not be the album that breaks the fourth wall, but it's a start. Projects like this need to be supported. But what i've learnt most of all, is that Metallica, at their current status, can do whatever they want, good or bad, and still sell out stadiums night after night. I can't help but respect that.