Let’s get one thing straight, ‘Lulu’ is in no way shape or form a publicity stunt – neither artists have a reason to prove their worth. This album is a genuine collaboration, of which both artist and band feel that they can benefit. It allows Reed to get out the rancour and forces Metallica back into their thrash whipping roots.
It seems that Reed is in his element, a chance to unleash his vengeful side which, perhaps his usual musical persona doesn’t permit. It’s odd to hear Reed being somewhat irate, which one can only presume comes built up from post ‘Velvet Underground’ era and the strange way in which that hugely acclaimed band split, much of it gravitating around Lou. After that he seemed to have tendered, but the full extent of his (St.) Anger is unleashed in the songs ‘Dragon’ and ‘Frustration’ with lyrics like;’ I want so much to hurt you’, and, ‘Frustration is my lexicon of hate’, but it’s not so much the lyrics, but the emotion behind them. That’s where Metallica drop the curtain and reveal themselves.
On the one hand Metallica have split into two. [James] Hetfield is evidently soaking up the enjoyment of shredding out grinding riffs, but is tackling with the passion of the lyrics. It’s not the usual style of singing for Hetfield, unknown territory, and it shows. He is used to singing in the typical stanza ways that his bands perform whereas Reed tells us a story and has no use for sticking to the conventionality.
As for Kirk Hammet and Robert Trujilo there doesn’t seem to be much room to play around and practice their art, Kirk throws in a few dark bluesy frets, but a couple of solos wouldn’t have gone amiss on this project. Lars’ drumming seems to have improved slowly since their album ‘Reload’ but I can’t understand why when mixing the album seems to insist on making the drums louder than everything else, an annoying trait that is becoming more common in Metallica’s recent albums – don’t even get me started on ‘Death Magnetic’.
This in the only album that leaves me confused. On one hand it works, it gets Metallica back to making music worthy of of ‘Master of Puppets’, but they seem to be giving into the legendary Lou Reed at every turn, ‘Little Dog’ and ‘Iced Honey’ could have been produced by Reed himself without the use of metal. On the other hand ‘The View’ is the collaboration at its best, the perfect dosage of Reeds’ angst and Metallica’s temper. Then, once again it flips, ‘Cheat on Me’ seems to be a pointless interval to the album and the ballad ‘Junior Dad’ seems to be about 14 minutes too long. It’s an enjoyable experiment, and that is what it should be known as, an experiment. They are not a band. Reed may have expelled some demons but I’m not entirely sure what Metallica have learned from this style, guess we’ll just have to hold our breath and see what’s next.