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.