REVIEW: Metallica & Lou Reed – Lulu (2011)


METALLICA & LOU REED – Lulu (2011 Warner Bros.)

I was as surprised as anyone upon hearing “The View”. Lou Reed’s toneless vocal jarring up against Hetfield’s “YEAAH-HAH!” style of singing?…weird stuff. But compelling. Something about Lou’s tone-deaf delivery and the weird lyrics. Something about Hetfield’s always addictive yowls.

Tellingly, the Metallica logo is nowhere to be found. Buyers should probably consider this a Lou Reed album featuring Metallica, than a Metallica album featuring Lou Reed.

Lulu is definitely not for 99% of Metallica fans. It may also not be for a good deal of Lou Reed fans, although they are more likely to embrace Lulu for what it is. What it is, I’m not too sure, but I do know that I can’t stop listening to it.

I’m not even going to try to figure out what the lyrics are about (based on a German play of which I have no knowledge). I dig portions of the lyrics, every once in a while Lou Reed will come up with a cool set of words that just sound right, independently of the context. I mean, it’s Lou Reed, right?

I do find it weird when in the middle of “Pumping Blood” Lou proclaims “Come on, James!”

As for Metallica? There are bits and pieces of this album that shred. The odd riff just jumps out every once in a while, and kind of make you wish for a complete Metallica song to surround it. Some guitar bits will take you back to Justice-style melody, some riffs sound like Death Magnetic.

Yet, I keep coming back to the weird soundscapes. The stuff that sounds more like Metal Machine Music than Metal Militia. If you like a healthy dose of the abstract in your music, you may like a fair deal of Lulu, particularly the long songs.  Personally I think Metallica deserve a hell of a lot of credit for stretching out.  This kind of music is something I’m used to anyway, and consider to be highly accomplished.

Highlights: The speed metal shred of “Mistress Dread”. The strangely melodic “Cheat On Me”.

There’s an argument to be made that Metallica are not the kind of band that should be experimenting with the avante-garde, but those kind of arguments veer a little too close to “stay in your lane”.  Lulu is definitely not for everybody. Don’t buy based on my review alone, if you’re in any way unsure, listen first.

3.3/5 stars



    1. Yeah man, you nailed it. I think of it as a Lou Reed record that just happens to have some famous dudes named Metallica playing the instruments. In fact, I totally hear the songs ‘The Blue Mask,’ ‘Waves of Fear,’ and even ‘The Gun’ (off of the Blue Mask album) as direct gateways/precursors to “Lou’s latest,” Lulu.


      1. I don’t know much about Lou at all, so I’ll have to take your word for it! I know I have utmost respect for artists who are outside the box. My sister is a bass clarinetist, and the music she plays is just…well, it’s out there.

        So I already have a healthy exposure to this kind of music. And in a way I have to give myself some partial credit for getting her IN to this kind of music in the first place. As kids we loved sci fi, and 2001 had an amazing soundtrack. Later on I got into Zappa. My sister’s since gone on to perform The Black Page live. Cool!


        1. Neat stuff. I listened to some of the offerings on her website. It is music that conjured mental visuals for me. As I ran through the samples, I kept imagining a sort of freestyle ballet in which marionettes come alive inside an otherwise empty box and flail around, confused and experientially empty. Wordless Twilight Zone without the context or closure.


      2. I finally listened to this album all the way through and I thought the same thing. It reminded me of The Blue Mask album a lot. If you thought this was interesting Mike, check out that Lou album. All the instruments were cut live except one guitar solo. Some great dualing guitar between Lou and Robert Quine.


  1. Coincidences, I checked if u had reviewed Lulu and just when I reached this line Highlights: The speed metal shred of “Mistress Dread”…it was playing. Had to laugh. It is a cool piece.
    I put off listening to the whole album for this long ‘cos I’m more of a fan of Lou than ‘tallica and did not want to face a possibility of not liking a Lou album. But I kinda like this. Definitely need to let this grow on me. Iced Honey could be on a Lou album.


  2. I’m awfy fond of this one and had fairly lengthy communication with our mutual pal HMO about it. I guess you could say it became something of a running joke during messages (I think he is in a bit of disbelief that I dig this one so much).

    I know that there’s some debate out there about this one but for me it’s an incredibly striking piece of work. Hetfield’s vocals jar a fair bit, but it doesn’t really take anything away from the album at all. A genuinely marvellous piece of work.


    Liked by 1 person

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s