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.