Madly in anger with Lou
Ill-fated Lou Reed and Metallica collaboration Lulu will actually make your ears bleed
Kyle Leitch, John Cameron, Paul Bogdan, Mason Pitzel
What’s the best track on the album?
Kyle Leitch: “Brandenburg Gate.” It’s strangely melodic and eerily catchy. Compared to the catastrophe that is the rest of the record, the opening track is actually very cool.
John Cameron: It’s “Junior Dad” for sure. Apparently Reed’s first vocal take made Hetfield cry, and you can totally picture it, even on comical lines like “Age withered him and changed him into Junior Dad,” there’s an undeniable tenderness and warmth. Plus, for a whole 20 minutes, Metallica realizes how important it is for session bands to be tasteful.
Paul Bogdan: “Iced Honey” actually has a decently interesting opening riff, and this is probably one of the only instances where Lou Reed’s vocals don’t sound horrendously out of place. Also, it’s probably one of the only songs that I could almost like.
Mason Pitzel: I get the most enjoyment out of “The View”, since it’s impossible to not love James Hetfield shouting furiously that he’s a table. But the actual best track might be “Junior Dad”, based its lyrics and the fact that half of its 19 minutes features neither Lou Reed nor Metallica.
What’s the worst track?
KL: “Junior Dad.” Rush created a 20-minute masterpiece in “2112.” Metallica and Lou Reed created a prolonged episode of a full orchestra/rock band falling down some basement stairs.
JC: Everything that can go wrong in “Pumping Blood” does. The riffs are incomprehensible and Reed’s senses of rhythm and melody are completely AWOL. “Pumping Blood” contains the album’s worst lyric, too: the inscrutable and kind of racist ‘I will swallow your sharpest cutter like a coloured man’s dick.’
PB: “Pumping Blood”. The best part is when Lou Reed starts singing with an upward inflection so that it sounds like he’s singing, ‘pumping blood?’ as if he’s not sure if those are the right lyrics.
MP: “Pumping Blood”, easily. There’s a limit to how many times you can stand hearing Reed quaver “spermless like a girrrl” over a kindergarten thrash beat – and it’s not a hundred, despite what Loutallica thinks.
What’s the biggest surprise on the record?
KL: Coming off of Death Magnetic, which had a lot of Metallica’s earlier speed metal feel to it, the instrumentation on Lulu sounds an awful lot like the Load and Reload albums.
JC: How fast its 95(!) minutes go. It’s actually kind of astonishing – Lulu isn’t an agonizing crawl, it’s a giddy, high-octane failure. Dozens of bands have tried and failed to connect brilliant, brilliant hooks with the speed, precision, and efficiency that Metallica and Lou Reed have in rocketing from boner to blunder.
PB: The fact that “Junior Dad” is 19 fucking minutes long. The last nine minutes are just strings and Continuum. I’ve got nothing against long songs, but there’s not even a melody during the outro – it’s just tones fading in and out for another nine minutes.
MP: That they didn’t invite Santana.
What’s the most interesting lyric?
KL: “PUM-ping – blood?”
JC: Did you not read the line about the “coloured man’s dick”? Where did that even come from, is what I’d like to know.
PB: The first line from the opening track, ‘I would cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff and Kinski in the dark of the moon.’ Find me a bigger what-the-fuck opening moment on an album, and I’ll cut my legs and tits off.
MP: You can read a lot into the recurring line “for worship of someone who actively despises you”, as far as what that describes (Metallica’s relationship with Lou Reed? Fans’ relationship with both parties?). But in case you missed it, the first lines of this album are. ‘I would cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff and Kinski in the dark of the moon.’
Is the album any good?
KL: Pfffffhahahahaha! Ahahahahahaa! Wait! Wait, wait. Hahahahahahaha!
JC: In parts, yeah. “Mistress Dread” is unrelenting thrash and serious doom-and-gloom from Lou Reed, “Iced Honey” sounds like a Velvets cut jettisoned from Garage Inc., and all three 10-minute-plus tracks are adventurous in composition and texture. Everywhere else, it’s as bad as we all expected. Maybe worse. Hopefully Lulu will have the same effect on bands looking to milk cred out of collaborations that heads on pikes had on petty criminals in the Middle Ages.
PB: No. It basically sounds like you’re having a smoke outside a Metallica show, and then some crazy old bastard comes up and starts rambling incoherently to you. You’re not really paying attention, but you hear him ask you, ‘If I waggle my ass like a dark prostitute, would you think less of me?’
MP: I can’t think of a worse album right now. It just misses its target so completely, and had such a dumb target to begin with. The best summary of Lulu I’ve heard is that it sounds like you’re on a train, the sound of metal blasting through some kid’s earbuds mixing with the sound of the crazy old man shouting at everyone on the train. This is not the summary of a good record.
What should they have done differently, if anything?
KL: Consider not collaborating with Lou Reed. Seriously, who in the hell thought this was a good idea?
JC: Metallica needs to bring in someone who is willing to tell them how terrible every one of their albums since 1991 sounds. Everybody who was legally able to drink in Saskatchewan on or before Aug. 11, 2011 is actually older than the last time Lars’s drums didn’t sound like shit.
PB: They could have made it sound like they were recording in the same country, let alone the same room.
MP: Succumbed to drugs in the ‘80s. But if Lulu was totally unavoidable, they should have at least put some effort into recording it. As is, Reed’s vocals drown out the music like a director’s commentary, and the kick drum sounds like a typewriter in a shower. These might seem like minor issues, but they make this already-grating experience exponentially worse. It’s like reading hate literature typed in pink Comic Sans.
Who should Metallica collaborate with next?
KL: Raffi. You know, as opposed to just staying Metallica.
JC: Scott Walker. I’m serious; Walker’s got a knack for synthesizing the garish and laughable with the frightening and heavy. He’s also a meticulous sonic architect, meaning he’d be able to bring out something with the best qualities of Lulu and say “no” to the worst.
PB: Kanye West, because he can at least make a collaborative album that doesn’t sound like it was mailed in.
MP: The perfect question for hack comics. “Someone with ears!” “Heath Ledger’s pharmacist!” For real, though, they’ll need to find someone as deluded and self-ignorant as they are. And with Reed crossed off that list now, their only remaining option is Tommy Wiseau.
Brandenburg Gate: Turgid major-key sludge with James Hetfield doing a bad James Hetfield impersonation under Lou Reed talking about Boris Karloff and tits. /JC
The View: Just imagine that it’s literally about The View. /MP
Pumping Blood: My new karaoke go-to. /MP
Mistress Dread: Metallica remembers what thrash sounds like the instant Lou Reed forgets what he was even talking about. /JC
Iced Honey: … oh God. I think I might actually kind of enjoy this song. /PB
Cheat on Me: Surprisingly, tense gothic melodies and an invigorated Reed all undercut by Hetfield’s humiliatingly bad yarling. /JC
Frustration: The song stops after a few minutes while Lou Reed banters, and Lars Ulrich does robotic-sounding drum fills. /PB
Little Dog: Your 11-year-old cousin tinkering around on an acoustic guitar at one end of the room while your parents are talking at the other, and sadly you just have to sit there and listen to them both. /PB
Dragon: The menacing riff and queasy guitar solo are this record’s answer to Stockholm syndrome. /JC
Junior Dad: Guitar tone from “Hero of the Day” aside, the album’s longest track is also its most deliberate, its most dynamic, and its most listenable. /JC