Journalist Defends Metallica's 'Lulu:' 'It Has Some of Best Drum Sounds From Lars Since 'Black Album''

"It's a fantastic Lou Reed album utilizing Metallica to varying success," the report reads.

Ultimate Guitar

In an interesting column titled "In Defense of Their Good Name," one of colleagues at Metal Insider took a defensive stance towards the infamous Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration "Lulu."

"'Lulu' is fundamentally not a Metallica album," the journalist instantly stressed. "It is a Lou Reed album. Production duties were split between Reed and his long time collaborator Hal Wilner. The music was not solely performed by Metallica but by Reed, other members of his solo band, and a string section. Metallica had a heavy hand in the creation of the album, but were still part of a larger whole and the single worst entity to be evangelizing the project.

"The amount of false expectations set up by Metallica were staggering," the article reads. "A punchline before anyone heard one note, 'Lulu' was an album destined to fail. Being based on a German play adapted by Reed with random sounding lyrical phrases made an already easy target for ridicule come across as a fully formed SNL parody."

Focusing on the music, the author explained, "The truth is 'Lulu' is a fantastic Lou Reed album which utilizes Metallica to varying degrees of success. At its worst, the incongruous nature of the music reinforces why people thought this collaboration was a terrible idea. At its best, the muscular riffing of Metallica adds a wonderful escalation to the sublime soundscapes created by Reed's narration and the Velvet Underground-esque string drones."

Noting that James Hetfield's vocals come as the record's critical flaw, the report continues, "Trying to be a hyper-masculine Flavor Flav-style hype man to Reed's understated vocals is a mood killer. I hate cilantro and try to avoid it in any meal. A stray taste of cilantro in my burrito won't ruin my whole dinner, but it will ruin that bite. James Hetfield's vocals are the cilantro sprinkled on top of 'Lulu.'"

As far as the good parts go, the author singled out parts of "The View," "Dragon," "Cheat on Me" and "Junior Dad," explaining, "The greatest successes on the album are when Metallica actively work to complement Reed's songwriting. A great example is the Black Sabbath doom riff playing over string drones in 'The View.' In the second half of 'Dragon' the music shifts from avant-garde rock into classic Metallica riffing and the epic scale of the arrangement sounds genuinely earned."

Summing it all up, the article praises Lars Ulrich's drum performance as one of his finest in over two decades. "So in the end we have a great Lou Reed solo record with one of the world's greatest metal bands backing him up," the conclusion reads.

"You have some of the best drum sounds you've heard from Lars since the 'Black Album.' More than half the record is extremely successful which is a higher ratio than a lot of other later-era Lou Reed records. There is a lot of great music on Lulu and as the snarky social media and blog comments fade into obscurity I hope people will be able to start hearing the album for what it is, and not what it falsely represents."

Did you ever give "Lulu" a full-on listening and an objective review? Let us know if you agree with the journalist's stance in the comments.

116 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Mr Winters
    I was thinking the same thing when I went back to St. Anger just now, I was like damn he is really beating the shit out of those cymbals.
    JJ McBlaze
    It kinda feels like the 'review' I gave (Re)Load back in the mid '90's with the exception that Lulu actually is only for Lou Reed fans... and I think that this is where the problem arises; it's not for Metallica fans, who were all expecting that Lou Reed would've taken over James' vocal duties in an awesome mash-up of two worlds. It seems that even the most hardcore Metallica fans have forgotten how much James loves Lou Reed and if they'd remembered that, they could've seen what kind of album was about to come out. I think it's part of a problem where people don't want a band to change their writing and/or sound... and that's just what Metallica have been doing since 1991's 'Black Album'. (Re)Load put more emphasis on 'the song', St. Anger was very experimental in sound, Death Magnetic was an attempt to bring the 'Anger' and 'Load' closer together. Metallica tries to progress and find new inspiration instead of repaeting themself over and over into oblivion, and regardless of the hardcore fans (though, if you only like 4 out of 10 official albums... how on earth can you call yourself 'hardcore'?) they've extended their fansbase throughout that period and are still one of the most famous/influential 'metal' bands on the planet, so something must be done right. So, in conclusion I must say that I don't listen to Lulu as a Metallica album, but as Lou Reed album with a different band backing him... But that band could've been any band. It doesn't make my Metallica bells jingle, so to speak.
    Perfectly said. I've been listening to them for over 20 years and some of my favorite songs come from Load and ReLoad. If they made albums that sounded the same for 25 years, they'd be Slayer.
    I understand all of that, but there are still loads of issues with the recording of the record alone, even if the songs themselves were good. It's just sloppy, and you can practically hear where they made edits.
    Yeah, well said. Also, people will never be satisfied. If Metallica does something they have done before, people will bitch about it (because they have heard it before - or they think Metallica is just trying to please their fans) and if they do something new, people will bitch about it (because it doesn't sound like Master of Puppets).
    Well, you can't get the drums to sound worse than St. Anger.
    yeah you can listen to Boston's newest album.
    LOL Boston is great, but the last two album attempts have been beyond horrible. Did I read correctly in the past that he used the snare on St Anger... with the snare turned off?
    Hard anal sex for you. $100 per hour. Can you take it, bitch.
    I just went back to St. Anger to check this out and I can hear the snare but it sounds really sloppy and loose. I don't know how they recorded it but now that I actually listen closely the snare sounds like utter shit in that song, can't be bothered to listen to the whole album right now.
    He said in an interview that it was as sloppy as it gets also they down tuned the snare.
    St. Anger's drums are great, they're just very different.
    Agreed I hate when people expect a band to have the same sound throughout their whole careers. The reason St.Anger is one of my favorite albums is the fact that the drums sound so different the whole album has a very cool raw/angry/gritty feel to it.
    Yea, well if they used a drum setup like that for their first album, it would have been their last.
    Second Rate
    St. Anger's drum tone is as overproduced as you can get. A "raw" snare drum doesn't sound like an oil drum with a Mylar film stretched over it..... it sounds like a snare drum.
    Unless you knew that he turned the snares off on the drum to get that sound.
    Second Rate
    Really? That's funny... because I've used my snare drums with the snares off many times and they've never yielded a piercing, obnoxious clang that sounds like someone thwacking an oil drum with an aluminum rod. I've even played the 6.5x14 Lars Ulrich signature diamond plate snare (the type he used on St. Anger) on a couple of occasions, and it does not sound at all like the tone on that record. Snares off or not, the tone on that album is the result of studio manipulation. It is not "raw" by any stretch of the imagination.
    The reason I like St. Anger over Death Magnetic is because they actually were doing what they wanted to. Death Magnetic was just an attempt to go back to their thrash roots and please the fans.
    I kind of agree. The raw sounds on the album do fit the music. But they wouldn't fit any other Metallica album.
    I have to ask, does Lars HAVE "good" drum sounds? Or is it just varying degrees of shit?
    Second Rate
    Kill 'Em All had pretty good drum sounds. Ride the Lighting and Master of Puppets were his best.. in the ears of this listener at least. When he adopted the clicking, typewriter bass drum tone on ...And Justice For All, it was all downhill from there.
    I'm not some Metallica fanboy or anything, but if you're a musician and you have some kind of an ear, you can't deny that "...And Justice for All" has great drum performances on it.
    I would have to say that the drum "sound" on Load and Reload is the best. Not talent wise, just production.
    "'Lulu' is fundamentally not a Metallica album," the journalist instantly stressed. "It is a Lou Reed album." No it isn't, to you and all the other dumbasses out there. IT'S A LOU REED AND METALLICA ALBUM! It says so on the spine of the CD, throughout the liner notes, in the copyright of the album, on iTunes, on Amazon. You have to be a complete idiot to deny this.
    FUNDAMENTALLY...meaning it doesn't conform to the norm for a Metallica album however it is completely normal for Lou Reed. Learn 2 English before getting pissed off...
    Really? So there's a lot of metal riffs on Lou Reed records? Seems like a pretty equal collaboration to me, I'm sorry you fail to understand the obvious.
    UG Logic: "Wow! Some journalist from a not-very-large publication has an unpopular opinion! LET'S MAKE IT NEWS!"
    It is hilarious to me how much Metallica fans hate this album. I honestly feel bad for Metallica because they can't try anything new without their fans bashing the shit out of it. So now they probably feel compelled to write another cd that sounds exactly like what they have been releasing for the past 25 or so years. I honestly hope they keep trying to release music that falls outside of the sound they have established, because there is nothing worse than a band who keeps releasing the same cd over and over again.
    Some fans enjoy the same cd over and over. Think Slayer, ACDC, Motorhead
    Slayer changed, though. They made a Nu-Metal album with Diabolus in Musica and then resigned themselves to being a second-rate Thrash band since then. Their current music is nothing like Show No Mercy or Hell Awaits.
    I don't know, I mean Nile is one of my favorite bands ever and they basically release the same CD over and over. I'm pretty ok with people not changing the core of their sound, or if they do, calling it a different band name. They don't need the name "Metallica" on something like lulu.
    First off, I don't know about other Metallica fans, but I hate this album because the musicianship in it is simply horrifying. The whole sound just sucks on the album, and all those 10 minute songs mix together and sound like the same track. Secondly, bands SHOULD go off on a different path musically, which is something Metallica has done since Load/Reload, but they also need to revive that old sound their fans fell in love with them for in the first place, instead of just doing whatever the hell they want too. That is, of course, if they want to keep a solid fan-base.
    Bands should do whatever the hell they want. Period. They don't exist to please you, they exist to please themselves, and by doing so, hopefully find an audience for their work.
    Well don't ever become a musician as a career then, because your business plan is all wrong. A band most certainly want's to please the audience, they are the one buying your music. If you only make music for yourself odds are not many people will like it, which drastically reduces any profit you will make. Take a look at bands like Nickelback, they ****ing suck for most people that like diverse music; however they appeal to radio rock lovers which is the majority of music listeners. This is why they have platinum albums and sell out stadiums even though almost everyone on this page probably hates them.
    Not everybody makes music because they want to be famous. Have you ever thought that making your own music could be fun? Metallica started playing together because it was fun. Their image is all about not caring about what other people think about them. If music was all about the money, nobody would experiment because most of the time experimenting doesn't give you lots of album sales. The only genre would be mainstream pop.
    I agree that Metallica's musicianship has slipped significantly and I agree that Lulu is garbage. However, correct me if I'm wrong, wasn't Death Magnetic an attempt to return to their old sound?
    Mainly, but it uses the same song writing method as the one they used on St. Anger. Namely gluing cool riffs together with plenty of snare drum fills.
    I don't feel bad for them, they all have their heads far enough up their asses to not care.
    And I feel bad for Metallica because they can't try anything new due to the fact they simply don't have the skill to make anything other than early 80s Thrash. They were starting to fall behind even half-way through Master of Puppets, anyway. It doesn't matter that LuLu is different than their previous stuff, most of the riffs on the album are mix between crappy St. Anger rejects and mediocre Sludge riffs. Half the reason this album even gets defended is because of Lou Reed and Metallica's name on it. If any other band released it, it wouldn't have even seen the light of day. A band has the right to do whatever they want, but trash is trash, and no amount of "BANDS' RIGHTS" is going to change that. Especially for a band who started their career in response to all the crappy Glam bands they vocally hated on.
    Might be true, but the album as a whole is pretty much garbage, saying its good because the drums sound good is pretty dumb in my opinion
    well you clearly didn't read the article as he only writes one sentence about the drums at the very end and had plenty of other reasonings to go with it
    That is your opinion. Remember that there are other people in the world who don't think exactly like you do.
    He did say "in my opinion"...
    He said "in my opinion" to the drum portion of the article. I have never understood why anyone would come to an article just to shit on something. It's a bit childish.
    Isn't that the idea. Leaving comments, expressing opinions, then discussing them.
    lol wow, that sounds like something you tell yourself to get to sleep at night. Remind someone they're only giving an opinion is stupidly redundant.
    Please read my reply above. It is childish to make fun of something you don't like on an article about that thing. Calling a cd "garbage" is ridiculous. Your shitty opinion isn't fact.
    He's giving an opinion which he clearly stated as an opinion, which is exactly what these comment sections are for. You are just in denial that the only reason it rubbed you the wrong way was that it was not in line with your own opinion.
    Calling a CD garbage isn't an assertion of a fact, nor is it a persuasive argument. If you disagree with a statement like that, that's your opinion vs. another. I don't know if it's the harsh language that bothers you, nor am I sure why you seem to take a statement like that as a challenge to objectivity or your personal feelings about something. Are some people close minded and arrogant about their views, making them feel superior to others who might disagree? Sure. Doesn't mean you're not arguing over semantics. An objective argument for or against something is a lot broader than "This is good", or "This is bad". There's no point in getting riled up just because someone says something sucks, not when your point is that other people in the world think differently.
    But you are forgetting that lulu is a special case. Saying lulu sucks is no opinion, it is actual fact. Something to keep in mind.
    It's funny how all of you go into a frenzy over this guy's innocent two lines of text. Like, holy ****, go get lives and talk about something that's actually relevant instead of bullshitting with one another over shit no one cares about. It blows my mind how unreasonably argumentative some people are, especially 'on the interwebz' Anyway, topic relevant: Calling the drums on this album Lars's best since the Black Album is roughly the same as calling Harleys Davidsons good since the Harley family originally owned the company. If you don't get the reference: The bar was never set high enough for that to be any kind of mentionable achievement.
    "The amount of false expectations set up by Metallica were staggering" This sums it all up. Many Metallica fans heard of a new album coming and just went "OMG DEM BROOTAL RIFS", when in essence, Lulu is not a Metallica album. And come on, if you're familiar with Lou Reed, you gotta expect some weirdness here and there. Personally, I don't like the album, but most of the bashing it got when it was released was ridiculous. That being said, I disagree with his view of Lars' drumming on the album. I'd say that "Load" is his best work since the Black Album, but oh well.
    It was 2011 when Lulu came out, who in their right mind has expected brootal riffs from Metallica since like.. 1986?
    The fact that the guy wrote this nearly 2½ years after the album was released either suggests he didn't give it a good listen when it first came out or hated it but didn't want to give in to that sentiment because he was a fan (or because he didn't want to jump on that hilarious bandwagon) Having Flavor Flav on that album might actually have pushed it over the edge of percieved pretentiousness and into the realm of satire. Add a bit of cowbell and it could've been a classic :p
    I honestly think Load was Lars' best work. He did some great drumming on that album, some bluesy stuff some heavy. All that with an excellent overall kit sound too.
    Lulu is a good cd.....As an instrumental
    How exactly, most songs are incredibly repetetive because they are comprised of 2-3 riffs that plays over and over for 11 minutes. :p
    There's nothing more annoying or idiotic than apologists. "That's just your opinion maaaaan", "It's not bad, it's different!". Why bother? You're even worse than someone who's being stubbornly negative/fanboyish, at least they're not being wishywashy.
    But many people state their opinions as facts. A good example is ProgFripp74's post:
    The fact is it's a bad album, you can't just pick bits and pieces that are not completely offensive and claim the album is good but has a few issues. Good music is where the parts involved come together well and create something that sounds good, you can't claim music is good if there are a few sections that sound ok, the rest sounds awful and the end result sounds awful.
    They just think their opinion is a fact and they know what "real good music" is. It is not obvious that music is all about opinions, at least in the internet.
    Once again, please realize that fans of an album or band don't want to hear that you don't like it. No one cares. It is just annoying. Please think about that. Keep it to yourself.
    No? Why don't you keep your statements to yourself? You call people childish, but that seems to be a word you throw around. You deal with the opinions of others like a child, and you hide behind subjectivity doing so. If you don't care, and you don't want to read it, don't read it and move on. But you're on the internet, deal with it somehow.
    That's not to say context isn't important when judging an album, but EVERYONE here is just giving an opinion. No need to play Caption Obvious, it's such a basic implication. The only difference between someone saying something sucks and saying they hate something, in the grand scale of things, is semantics.
    It sounds better than St. Anger and Death Magnetic, that's all i can say. Personally i thnk Metalcas best sounding records are load and reload, so can't say i agree that it has the best sounding drums since Black Album. Aside fromthat, I agree with a lot of what he says, a d the songs he mentions are defineately among the brighter moments, i would also mention Pumping Blood though you have to ignore the ridiculous intro... I just wished the songs were trimmed a bit, they are too damn long for their own good and the rest of the songs falls flat.
    If they'd had the mixing of Load/Reload on the songs from Death Magnetic it would've been received much better I think.
    Yeah Rick Rubin ****ed that Album up, it was certainly a step in the right direction for Metallica. Aside from better engineering all they need to do is cut a couple tracks down to 5-6 minutes so not every song is 8-9 minutes.
    I love everything about Metallica, even St.Anger. But I really can't listen to Lulu, It's kind of suffering when Hetfield screams I'm the table !
    They should release the tracks they recorded for LuLu 2. washboard solos and hammering on tables.
    I'm a diehard fan of Metallica so I will be buying it. Because? I'm a fan and fans support the bands they like through good and bad.
    I did give it a good "listen to" and thought I'd like an instrumental version instead. It has great riffs and instrumentation but the vocals kill it for me.
    I heard Lars went and shocked the world by going out of 4/4 into 2/3, what a true drum master
    Gee Halen
    At the same time you can clearly hear them patched up at quite a few places. e.g. as the tempo speeds up in "The View", you can clearly hear it's a different snare sound.
    spot on. nice to hear someone not from metallica defending it. not saying it's a great album at all, but there is some cool stuff on there that could end up being quite influential.
    Why do we care what "a journalist" thinks? Why is this on the UG front page? Is there really that little to report on?
    really? your gonna come up with that lame shit? drum sound? not the best drumming? but sound?lol that is ****ing funny! o wait i just had the best fart sound since 1993. a drum sound shouldnt be that hard to capture,unless you cant play drums,o wait i forgot lars can't! dummest review ever!
    I was very impressed with Lulu. I seriously didn't think it was possible to get worse than Load/Reload/St. Anger....then here comes Lulu, defying my expectations!
    anybody else think this guy will be granted an exclusive interview with lars or James in the next 6 months, this almost feels like the guy that won the geoff tate thing a few months back
    Lulu is a great (in my opinion) experimental/avant garde Lou Reed record, with a coherent concept and deeply disturbing themes. A lot of the criticisms of the album are valid, but any opinion calling it a Metallica record is deeply mistaken.
    The fact is it's a bad album, you can't just pick bits and pieces that are not completely offensive and claim the album is good but has a few issues. Good music is where the parts involved come together well and create something that sounds good, you can't claim music is good if there are a few sections that sound ok, the rest sounds awful and the end result sounds awful.
    Is it fact that it's a bad album or is that just your opinion? Fact is, people like it. Your opinion is, you don't like it.
    what if the album wasn't branded with Metallica & Lou Reed?
    It wouldn't get any hate but I think people would never have even heard of it. Or it could be more "underground" album. It would definitely have a different kind of reputation.