Sound — 5
During the 25th Anniversary Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, both Metallica and Lou Reed performed and began talking afterwards. Initially the thought was for Metallica to go into a studio with Lou Reed and record some of his unreleased material. Fast forward two years later and Lou Reed and Metallica once again revisit the idea, but this time they land on the idea of working on some songs that Lou Reed had written for a German play called "Lulu". Lou Reed shared his demos of the songs with Metallica and they sat down and worked out changes to the original compositions and lo and behold we are left with the album being released, "Lulu". "Lulu" is a 10 track album spread across two discs with a total runtime of just over 87 minutes. If you were expecting the next Metallica release, then you will be disappointed. The end result neither sounds like a Metallica release or a Lou Reed release. You may have heard the expression about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts? Well, it didn't quite work out that way on this project. I'm personally a thrash metal fan, and while I prefer Megadeth to Metallica, I've always been able to appreciate their releases to different degrees... that isn't this case with "Lulu". I've also enjoyed Velvet Underground albums and some of Lou Reed's solo releases, but again this doesn't resemble the Lou Reed work I've grown to know and love. As far as the actual sound of the album, the riffs sound Metallica-esque, but more like a poorly executed tribute band. There are a few songs with acoustic intros that seem like they fit more on a folk or folk rock album (hey, I like folk rock), and it doesn't seem to really fit the ambience of the album really well. A few of the songs are really heavy and others have long passages of almost just ambient noise, low level guitar feedback, and sustained single notes, and such. There isn't much impressive in the way of solos or even interesting rhythms. It is pretty straightforward musically, but not very engaging.
Lyrics — 3
Lou Reed sings about 85 - 90% of all the lyrics and by sing I mean that he mumbles out of key and sometimes out of time. His voice is really showing its age during most of the album as well, with only a few moments in the album where the stars align and he is in key, in time and isn't sing-talking in a croak. Very occasionally James Hetfield takes up the remaining 10 15% of the vocals with such genius outbursts as "I am the table". Neither vocalist sounds at their peak at any point on this album. It is really kind of sad, because regardless of the mediocre instrumentation and horrible lyrics, the album would have been palatable if the vocals were at least delivered in key. At least James Hetfield did sound in key. As an example of just how bad the lyrics can get on this album, I would like to include some random excerpts to give you an idea. From the track "Dragon" you get such lyrics as "Do you think we're a book / some kind of table / you can rest your feet on when you're able" and "The hair on your shoulder / the smell of your armpit / the taste of your vulva and everything on it". The track "Pumping Blood" gives you such lyrics as "I swallow your sharpest cutter / like a colored man's dick / blood spurting from me". It just goes on and on in that manner. From the track "Little Dog" you get "Little dog don't have much at all / A puny body and a tiny dick / A little dog can make you sick". From the song "Frustration" you get "I feel the pain creep up my leg / blood runs from my nose / I puke my guts out at your feet / you're more man than I / To be dead to have no feeling / To be dry and spermless like a girl". My final impression of the lyrics is they are mostly just nonsense and really borderline offensive even to me, and I don't offend easily. I know this is supposed to be an artsy side project for Lou Reed and Metallica, but it really just comes off as sounding like really bad music.
Overall Impression — 2
Really, the best way that I can describe this album is it sounds like a garage band just getting started that found an elderly homeless man with dementia to be their frontman. This album is so horrible that it goes beyond being boring, then goes beyond being amusing and goes into a realm of actually being painful to listen to. I understand that this album is supposed to be an artistic statement, but I just don't get it. I'm not sure anybody does besides Lou Reed and the members of Metallica. While I don't begrudge Metallica and Lou Reed recording whatever they want, this album was actually hard to listen to from start to finish. Unfortunately, before writing the review I made myself listen to it in its totality three times from start to finish, and today I've been listening to specific songs trying to renew my impression of them. If you take the long view on the album release, "Lulu", I assume that Lou Reed is so established that this album release can't possibly hurt his reputation, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't care if it did. Metallica is also very established in what they do, but I think will probably take a greater hit from their core fan base feeling betrayed by this release. I've read that Metallica are in the studio now working on a new straight up Metallica album, and we can only hope they managed to get all of their bad ideas out in this collaboration with Lou Reed and will release a solid album that will help wash the taste of "Lulu" out of all of our ears. Probably my most favorite and hated song on the album is "Frustration", which while musically maybe sounds the most like what you would expect from Metallica, while lyrically/vocally it is the most ridiculous track on the album. I really can't name a favorite track, as I honestly didn't like any tracks on the album. My most hated songs on the album "Little Dog" and "Pumping Blood", but really none of them are good. There are a few moments where the album makes you think it is going to take off musically, but it never actually delivers. Normally I respect an album that has a little length to it I feel like I'm actually getting more for my money, but at 87 minutes this album is insanely too long.