Released: Oct 31, 2011
Genre: Heavy Metal, Noise Rock, Avant-Garde, Spoken Word
Label: Warner Bros., Vertigo
Number Of Tracks: 10 (2CD)
The unlikely collaboration between Lou Reed of Velvet Underground fame and Metallica, the most culturally prominent of the Big 4, has finally released "Lulu". This is a concept album loosely based on two plays written by a German playwright by the name of Frank Wedekind.
LuluFeatured review by: UG Team, on october 28, 2011 46 of 53 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 5
Lyrics: 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. // 3
Overall Impression: 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. // 2
Bluesmetalguy, on october 28, 2011 11 of 37 people found this review helpful
Sound: So "Lulu", possibly the most controversial album of the century there has been a lot of hate directed at this latest Lou Reed release. Yes, Lou Reed release. I have decided to side with the band and say that this is a Lou Reed album and in the context of Lou's work "Lulu" is experimental but definitely in line with what he has done in the past. The guitars feature grinding circular riffs that repeat very frequently and rarely solo, the bass is solid calmly following the guitar riffs. As for the drums Lars does not impress but instead plays with a low intensity nicely slotting into that Lou Reed feel. The vocals are typical of both Reed and Hammet and the lyrics are evidence that Lou is still crazy (which is good). In short from the Lou Reed perspective this is actually a pretty decent album and makes sense with the rest of his discography.
The guitar sound on this record is surprisingly close to how I would imagine a heavy metal Lou Reed. Sure at times it speeds up a bit more than expected but overall the riffs are simple and grungy. There are a few small acoustic bits but the majority of the album features distortion yet somehow at the same time this album is not brutal just different. I feel that all of the songs fit 100% in to the Lou Reed style, if this was any other artist the riffs might feel generic but with Lou it is exactly what I expected. And some of the riffs are just magic, the beginning of the heavy party of "Brandenburg Gate" is mindblowing. All in all Hammet and Hetfield do a fairly good job of backing up Lou and Hetfield's singing on this record and accurately reflect what a metal version of Lou should sound like.
The bass on this record is also very Lou-esque, it is fairly minimalist performance by Trujillo following the guitar riffs and generally making the guitar sound a lot heavier. I hope on the new recently announced new Metallica record Trujillo gets more of a chance to shine because I know that his bass playing can be a lot stronger than this. Yet he still does a good job of capturing the Lou Reed atmosphere. And he does get a really awesome part in "Junior Dad". The drumming of Lars Ulrich pretty much reflects the guitar riffs, it is pretty simplistic and while there are some decent fills here and there the majority of the time Lars plays nice and easy simple drum riffs. While this is maybe not the greatest Lars performance it definitely fits in with the Lou Reed aura and makes sense within his discography. // 7
Lyrics: The vocals on this track are decent from both of the singers on "Lulu". Reed keeps up his regular style featuring the talk-singing which makes him unique. Admittedly on some of these more recent records of his and especially on this one the talk-singing becomes a bit more like talking than singing. Also Lou is starting to sound a bit old in some of his parts his voice becomes that of the old man that he is. As for James Hetfield his vocals are fairly good and he definitely has a lot of conviction in his vocal lines. I am especially fond of his passionate yell of "Small Town Girl" in "Brandenburg Gate". From a vocal perspective this album is pretty decent. The vocals are... Very Lou. They have all of the psychedelic insanity that makes Reed so great at the same time featuring some great messages underneath the morass of weirdness. // 8
Overall Impression: In conclusion, this is actually a decent album, from a Lou Reed standpoint. It features some pretty decent songs and finishes with a beautifully crafted epic in "Junior Dad". As a backing band Metallica does very well and they accurately reflect all that is Lou from a more metal perspective. The guitars feature very Lou-esque riffs and unsurprisingly have few solos. The bass is pretty straightforward but there are some pretty nice fills throughout. The drums are gentle and don't seek to blast you away, instead drawing you in to the low powered riffs. The vocals are typical of both vocalists however Lou is definitely starting to age. As for the lyrics, they are completely insane, yet I like them because they are very Lou. I really don't know what to make of this album, but something inside me says it is pretty good. // 8
Paul*Stanley, on october 28, 2011 9 of 34 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 8
Lyrics: 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. // 10
Overall Impression: 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. // 9
henrihell, on october 28, 2011 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: There has been much hype about this album, most people does not like it, and I fully understand why, since this isn't even close to anything mainstream. My opinion though, is that this is a real nice piece of art, since you can tell they have been working on real inspiration to the fullest. Nothing on the album sounds any commercial at all, which I think is really good.
The sounds are really metal. The guitar and bass fits perfectly together, creating one sound combined of the two, mostly sounding like a guitar with a really brutal and bassy sound. The drums sound good too, in opposite to the last two Metallica albums. Actually soundwise the only thing I have to complain about is Lou Reed's singing, it's not even in the mix, it's just on top of everything.
Since all the songs on the album are pretty different from each other I'll give you a track by track review of them:
01. "Brandenburg Gate": This one has a really nice countryish acoustic guitar intro, which leads to a great riff, then it continues as metal. Would have liked more of that countryish stuff.
02. "The View": There's nothing really special on this one, the riff is good and so on, an average song from this album.
03. "Pumping Blood": It starts of with some kind of violin thing, don't know if it really is a violin though or is it something else, sounds wierd in a good way. after that violin thing it goes on to an epic acoustic parts which is really nicely done, too bad you can't hear much of the epicness since Lou Reed is on top of it. Then goes on to the kind of thing we've all heard on "The View". One of the better songs on the album.
04. "Mistress Dread": This is the thrashiest most Metallica sounding song on this album. It would be a pure thrash metal song if it wasn't Lou Reed singing, but then again, if it wasn't him singing this would just be a Metallica song. Also one of the better songs.
05. "Iced Honey": This one has a really nice riff, I just love that sort of thing. Too bad it's pretty much the only riff in the song, 5 minutes, one riff, gets pretty boring even if it is a good riff.
06. "Cheat On Me": Really nice epic start on this one. It reminds of old psychedelic, prog like things. You could get nightmares by listening to that kind of stuff, then it kicks in to the same kind of metal thing as most of the rest of the album.
07. "Frustration": "Frustration" was the right word, I'd say this is the worst song on the album. In the beginning the melody is just hilarious, it sounds like some happy song ment for children, then also this one goes into that same as all the others.
08. "Little Dog": This one is great! A slower kind of psychedelic song, really good work on this one! Probably the best song on the album.
09. "Dragon": I love the intro, it's so distorted it all gets messed up but it sounds awesome. This is also one of the more psychedelic sounding songs on the album, kinda liked this one too.
10. "Junior Dad": A slower more beautiful song in any way, love the melody on this one. and it doesn't go into that metal kind of thing that just makes most of the songs pretty boring in the end. This is maybe the best song on the album. The only bad thing about it is the outro at about 10 minutes of length where nothing really happens. // 7
Lyrics: I'm not the one that really cares about lyrics when listening to music, but here they really destroy much of the album, which is a shame. It doesn't get better by the fact that I can not by any meaning understand what the lyrics mean, or do they mean anything. They're just wierd, and mostly repetitive.
These lines are the ones that annoyed me the most: "I want so much to hurt you, I want you as a wife" and "Spermless like a girl". These lines are as understandable as the rest of the lyrics, but these are just wierder than the rest.
Also I don't really like the voice of neither of the singers. James Hetfield sounded good last time on the "Black Album" and Lou Reed is even worse. His voice just sounds awful! // 3
Overall Impression: The things I most love about the album is that it really doesn't sound like anything else, which is a thing I've always liked. If something differs from the rest, it's usually pretty good in my opinion, since it brings in some new aspects. This brings in plenty of new aspects to music.
I heard the album on their website, where their streaming it full, and I doubt that I will buy it before I find it at a discounted price, so no, I would not pay 20 for it, but if I could get it for 10 I would buy it, if there was nothing better in the same store. It's not a really good album, but it's not as bad as people are saying, it's bottom moments are horrific, but there are plenty of good really interesting moments as well. // 7
Poisonouspot, on october 28, 2011 1 of 7 people found this review helpful
Sound: Lou Reed & Metallica's collaboration sounded interesting at first, but then when we were "treated" with a sample from "The View" which was mixed with very different reactions. However, in my opinion "The View" is arguably the worst song on the album, I don't know why it was the first single.
However, the record doesn't work most of the time, it sounds like Metallica playing very receptive riffs over and over again why Lou Reed rambles over them. that's one thing that really turned me off the album, every song is Metallica repeating the same riff OVER and OVER again, every song on the album is above 4 minutes and most of the songs are around 7 to 19 minutes but we might only hear one riff played. The album could be cut short by 30 minutes. But the sound quality is very good unlike "Death Magnetic" so that's positive. // 7
Lyrics: But arguably the worst thing on the album is Lou Reeds vocals, Regardless if he is old or not he is useless, he talks for 90% of the time and sings badly out of key for the other 10%. His vocals don't even fit the song! Look at "Pumping Blood". Lou Reed's vocals just don't fit. It amazes me why James Hetfield doesn't sing these parts. However, there are several songs where the team-up clicks such as "Little Dog", "Dragon" and my personal favourite "Junior Dad". // 4
Overall Impression: As a whole, this album is interesting and worth a listen but only a few songs are actually good, the rest sound like a weird old man narrating Metallica. An interesting partnership but it isn't very enjoyable and at times very painful and funny. The collaboration has turned against them more than helped them. If the album was stolen, I probably wouldn't get another copy, I'm a bit disappointed but I didn't know what to expect. // 5