Metallica and Lou Reed: Lulu

Metallica and Lou Reed
(Warner Bros.)

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I know what all the kids are saying: What is this old guy Lou Reed doing with the preeminent metal band Metallica?  But refer to Mr. Reed’s Metal Machine Music to see how the old New York “Walk On The Wild Side” poet likes his loud guitar and would have you realize that a band like Metallica knows all too well where their influences hail from.  You’ll come to worship at the altar of Lulu, the new double album from Metallica and Lou Reed.

On the first disk it’s the second tune, “The View,” where things get rocking and growling in full riffery and mix with drummer Lars Ulrich’s assault. “Pumping Blood” is scratching in its guitar menace from Kirt Hammett (at least at the first part of the tune) then it’s the talking poetry we are used to from Reed; this is a perfect mix of what all five men are bringing to Lulu. “Mistress Dread” sounds the most like roiling, chunky Metallica with Lou trying to sing over a train of sound that never lets up.  A slower “Cheat on Me” ends the first disc with a tight Lars snare leading a taut, slightly spacey ditty featuring James Hetfield in his most effective backing vocals here.

“In my lexicon of hate…I wish that I could kill you/But I too love your eyes…To be dry and spermless”— really, who writes lyrics like this?! Lars is crazy drumming with these Reed lyrics on the first tune on the second disk, “Frustration.” “Little Dog” sees Robert Trujillo’s bass strumming under a soft Reed story-of-a-lyric and once again Hammett’s feedback noodles. His noise continues and opens “Dragon,” a rather long song that sees Metallica in full force again. “Junior Dad” ends Lulu with guitars sounding like an orchestra tuning-up and Lars trying to find a beat over Reed’s sweetest vocals and sweetest lyrics.

Is Lulu a masterpiece? Is it commercial at all?  Will anyone like this? I have no idea. All I know is that there are some brilliant moments here on these two disks, which might have made a better, tighter single disk, but I applaud the experiment and will probably have to take some time listening back to some of this to really get it right in my head.

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