Sound — 8
A lot of people aren't going to like "Lulu" It's easy to see even without reading any of the comments posted at the bottom of any of Ultimate Guitar's articles about it. That's because "Lulu" is something different - very different. "Lulu" is not an album of pop music (I use that as a blanket term to describe the music we all listen to on CDs and the radio), but rather it is a theatrical production for the ears. Metallica and Lou Reed seem less concerned with creating a listenable collection of songs which you can jam out to in your car, but rather they want to take you on a trip through a very dark place. Unless you accept that, you are not going to like this album. Metallica, while I'm not a fan of their own music, are definitely a talented band. They create slow, haunting pieces that almost drag to the point of frustration at times. There are small hints of their previous projects here and there (fast forward to the two minute-mark in "Pumping Blood" and you'll hear something similar to "Enter Sandman") but mostly have created a sound unlike any other record I've ever heard. It's hard to tell which guitars are Kirk and James and which ones are Lou, but it doesn't really matter. This album isn't about them, it's about the art they've created. The record ranges from hard, disturbing, unsettling noise to more traditional metal power chords to surprisingly beautiful acoustic guitar pieces and classical instruments, which shine quite a bit in the finale, "Junior Dad". Some of the songs mix all of these elements nicely, and the scope of it is quite impressive.
Lyrics — 10
The album opens with the line, "I would cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff". That pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the record. The lyrics are dark and haunting to an extreme level, and oftentimes overshadow the music as the real star of the album. Since my first listen through it, I haven't been able to get Lou Reed shouting, "I want so much to hurt you" repeatedly, followed by "Marry me" during "Frustration". Hetfield's "I am the table" line has already gotten a lot of crap long before the release, and it's going to be hard for a lot of people to get past that. Another hurdle that's going to be quite a jump for people to actually enjoy the album is to get over Lou Reed's eccentric vocal style. He almost abandons the speak-singing he is famous for here and just talks, devoid of pitch and note. It adds to the off-putting nature of the music. James Hetfield's vocals are peppered here and there throughout the CD's lengthy running time, but he barely acts as Reed's sidekick here. He never has a lead vocal part and is quite strictly relegated to back-up vocalist. That's not a bad thing, but it would've been interesting to see how it would've turned out with more of his voice on this record.
Overall Impression — 9
For once, a collaboration has created a truly artistic piece of music that manages to be avant-garde and original without getting pedantic. But I know that almost no one will agree with me, and that's fine. No amount of positive reviews will change the view of the people who were hoping for the follow-up to "Death Magnetic". I feel like this is going to be an album everybody hates today and then will look back on in 20 years and realize how unique it was. After all, people hated AC/DC's "High Voltage" when it was released, saying that the singer was annoying, but noted the album's "monster riffs". To me, that sounds a lot like "Lulu". "Brandenburg Gate" is an attention-capturing opener, "Frustration" is downright terrifying and "Junior Dad" is a beautiful closing track. "Iced Honey" is the most listener-friendly song, so you may want to listen to that first. Other than some points where the album seems to go on slightly too long, there isn't a dull moment. "Lulu" tells a story for those who are willing to listen. Sadly, most people won't be.