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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lou Reed and Metallica - Lulu review

Year : 2011
Genre : Avant-Garde Drunk Metal
Label : Warner Bros., Vertigo
Origin : United States
Rating : 3.5 / 10

Buy it now - the Deluxe Edition is only $168, after all.

Kicking into Metallica is no act, nor daredevil sport these days, yet the super-notorious formation once again comes out with a sonic shockumentary, now teaming up with Lou Reed, who delivers - hm - poems (??) along a kind of broken man / drunktard narrative with Metallica's - most often - enervated, tired and seemingly uninspired background jam.

The lyrical content is based on a character called Lulu from a German play, but, if you are interested in that more seriously than this album has aspiration to ease your related thirst, then you want to check out G.W. Pabst's movie adaptation of the plays, called Pandora's Box with ultimate jazz baby Louise Brooks as the lead character Lulu. This is a silent movie, a robust cinematic masterpiece, and, this minor-, and not too relevant clusterfuck of a record would be so much better if it would be a silent record, too.

There are no intricately sculpted riff-flows on this double barreled CD set, Kirk Hammet plays one solo and I guarantee that you'll wish he had NOT, so, if you are looking for top of the heat aural pleasantries and music with meticulous work in it, then this Lou Reed / Metallica creation will leave you with a gigantic red pl├╝sch dildo and a Bazinga!, rest assured. This record is about Lou Reed, and Metallica gives the background FOR a record, that is about him. Everything is all right, so far. But! This release implodes under its own ambitions legendarily, which is interesting to watch, but kind of terrible to hear. One has the secretive impression, that, coming to this collaboration with the Metallica crew members, Lou Reed had the plan that he will have the rampant Frank Zappa going on on this album. Oh well. Man plans, God delivers.

The creative efforts sound to be pretty consistently low level on this double spin, - exceptions to be addressed later - especially if you stick to the Zappa comparison and try to approach this studio - hahaha! - product with an awareness that has Zappa's related work in sight. Do you know the song The Great Jazz Discharge from Mr. Zappa, for example? He gives out a hilarious drunk rant about - well - various stuff, but there is Steve Vai behind his back, who follows the anatomical sonic structure of Zappa's rant on his guitar. Wicked stuff. In other words, you hear a superbly imitated drunk turd having his miserable rant, but radically legit and elusive music ALSO is created along the way, courtesy of the exquisite guitar content played by Steve Vai, who always was / is / will be superb at imitating human speech on the strings. Imitating human speech with guitar takes m4d sk1lls, man.

Regarding this record, I have the feeling that Lou Reed and Metallica tried to summon a similar feel than the Zappa song mentioned above, only ended up spurting out a sloppy, pseudo-spontaneous, fucking mess, but, at least, galores of it. There is nothing wrong with creating a mess, but selling it as the final product occupying a double CD is rather hilarious / shameful of an idea, take your personal pick. I know this next sentence will sound like one of a proper snob in pink bath rob, - which one of mine does not eh?? - but here goes : this release seeks to shovel down on your throat a sense of forced spontaneity/intimacy, that which though tends to lack minimal levels of exigency, even.

Solidification of this notion : this review will address all tracks on the first CD, and you can have some of the rest on the second for your own discovery, but let's take a quick preview at track 2, called "The View". Do you like this super-simplistic sludge riff, which could be a shy intermezzo on a proper sludge release? You better LOVE it, fangirl/fanboy, because you will have 3 minutes and 50 seconds of this pattern before James Hetfield shows momentary mercy. In other words : this record takes you for a fool, and does that very shamelessly, too. Read on to find out more about this relative embarrassment or don't.


Track 1, Brandenburg gate is the 4 minutes long glorification of a not at all inventive power chord arrangement revolving around the C, G and F bonfire chords. Yes, you can sing Knocking on Heaven's Door on it and other 23894723894239 songs, as well. After eternal minutes of relentless chord pattern repetition with Reed's sentiments on top, James Hetfield finally sings "small town girl" on every C chords, while Lou Reed talks about stuff in the empty space that remains between two "small town girl"s.

Track 2, The View revolves around a simplistic, but decent riff, giving support to Lou Reed's follow-up declaration about how he wants to see you giving up your life of reason and stuff. The crude flow of the music is interrupted by a more intense intermission with Hetfield on vocals, but, the efficiency of this sequence is partly due to the relatively lackluster form of magic inherent to the central sonic "mass" of this sorrowfully "balanced" track.

Track 3, Pumping Blood is a reluctant-, kind-of experimental build that fails to turn into anything yet via its intro section - regardless of the tormented cello, but at least they have tried - then Lou speaks about stuff - because Lou likes to do that on this release - with an ambient musical BG rendered by the Metallica dudes to support the worded sentiments. Later on, the lazy build is aware enough to imbue a sludge-ish tint into the architecture, but this tar-potential collapses back to where it came from before venturing forth into another direction it could have looked good on. Reed once again exhibits thoughts of profound-, and high level misery in an intentionally rhythmic fashion, and Lars Ulrich, fortunately enough, is quick to command some riffage into the build via strict pummeling. This riffage though is very hard to decipher, it is more noise than notes with meat on them. Lou is relentless at delivering his lines along the same modal intensity. The crude, enervated experimental "flow" arrives to a simplistic breakdown at the end, and the track concludes.

Track 4, Mistress Dread opens up with solid, old school thrashing, but it quickly turns out that the very first bar of the intense thrashing is all there is to it, too. A withered vocal babbling joins in - it would not do justice (not for all nor for anything else) to regard it as singing. Lou's mutter sticks around persistently, and you find yourself with the same 1-bar thrash riff being played 3 minutes into the mix, and Lou still has a whole lot of issues to address along the same modal register. Ugh.

Track 5, Iced Honey starts out like a Sammy Haggar rom-antic with drunkass sludge guitars, and Lou Reed here actually tries to sing, and even succeeds. By 1:20 into the song, you crave variation badly, but Lou Reed keeps telling his stuff about a butterfly as I recall, supported by sloppily produced quasi-sludge. Sometimes Hetfield joins in with tight singing for a bar or two, stating : "see if the eyes will melt for you." Nah, it probably is "ice." A highly uneventful song, and I have major qualms regarding the production values on this one, too. This does not sound any better than something that has been picked up from the waste bin of the studio, to be honest. But, if you are a troll on a carnage, I would not be the one who laughs his ass off if you'd say that the entire release is sloppily produced, and exceptions are few.

Track 6, Cheat on Me starts out with a mellow instrumental sequence that has an oriental, tender, risk-free tint to it, and the bass that is about to reveal itself, has a superb, fat presence, adding to the shape of things in a legit, flamboyant, fluent fashion. Lou Reed joins in at about 3:00, and, in this build, his broken man narrative is solid and authentic, yet, his stuff keeps on demonstrating lower values. "Why do you cheat on me?" - he asks. Pha! Because you fail to give the chick proper fun, that is why. The song's fabric later on is complimented by Lars Ulrich's classic mid-tempo pounding, and a sober limitation on the guitar's presence makes this song the first "healthy-looking" track on the record. Cool.

As noted, there is a whole other, autonomous second CD on board, but, these deliveries are not a tad more interesting nor different than the content found on the first disc. Not in character. They are though, lengthier. Sometimes inept, frequently masturbatory, and in a constant, embarrassing "spazz" to be highly original, this double release generally seems to be a mess with very few saving graces. As for the these beneficiary aspects, they mostly will coming your way when Metallica decides to rumble around for a minute or two, - never more, unfortunately - but these moments are extremely scarce. And, while there are about 4 minutes of legit riff work here as I recall after enduring this double spin, rudimentary pattern abuses are degrading this installment greatly. What's up with the main riff in the track called Dragon, for instance? This ain't as good as to play it around for 8 minutes, yet this exactly is what the album does. The second CD's Little Dog is a perfect example of the hidden track the album should have featured. Mellow acoustic jam with a restrained, tasteful southern vibe, and Lou Reed's performance is legit in this track, because he does not sound like a drunk. The avid Metallica fan though will dismiss this as unacceptable, lackluster cowboy-ambient.

- sigh -

Once again, I have no intention to kick into Metallica, they have shaped the music in me as they did in numerous other souls via dozens and dozens of timelessly great songs they have written during their illustrious career. Yet, this record, for the immense part of it, simply sounds to be way too sloppily-, inappropriately spontaneously realized and - most often - ridiculously repetitious (looped simple riffs in your face for minutes, WTF?), to be seriously enthusiastic about. If they would give it away for free, it still would be kind of an insult for the band's ultimate legacy. That 1 song I liked without any restrain about the Little Dog, what do you want? - and a cowboy-ambient Thus Spoke Zarathustra-knockoff at the end of the second CD is not enough to make me a happy troll. Metallica with Lou Reed on board - more precisely, Lou Reed with Metallica on board - is not a major disaster though, at the end of the day. It is a minor one, only.

Rating : 3.5 / 10

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