Lou Reed and Metallica's new collaboration Lulu is the single worst album I have ever heard. Ever.
In most negative album reviews, that claim serves as a gross exaggeration to suggest that the album being reviewed is simply not good, but I genuinely mean it here. Lulu might be the single most incoherent, nonsensical, pretentious, long-winded, idiotic and overall worst excuse for music ever made. Actually, this album should not be described as music, but instead as a smoldering crater of feces and fan disappointment.
Before I describe its failings in more detail, a bit of background on both sides of this unlikely collaboration is probably necessary to provide some insight into how this atrocious product came to be.
Metallica is best known as one of the first and most successful thrash-metal bands, having created some of the most intricate and brutal guitar arrangements of all time over the past 30 years. After attempting to move into the mainstream with a number of unsuccessful albums since the mid-1990s, including 2003's atrocious St. Anger, Metallica started to revert to their thrash roots with 2008's Death Magnetic.
Lou Reed, on the other hand, is a highly influential experimental musician, most famous for his work with The Velvet Underground in the 1960s. Reed's previous foray into "heavy metal" was 1975's Metal Machine Music, a 64-minute double album of incoherent feedback and unmelodic guitar loops.
In the album's liner notes, Reed claims to have invented heavy metal and that the album is the conclusion of that genre, ignoring the contributions of previous acts like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin while shutting the door on countless future metal acts, including Metallica. The two started to consider a collaboration following their performances at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary Concert in 2009.
Now, on to the album itself. At 87 minutes, this album would be hard to pay attention to continuously even if it were at all melodic. Instead, most of the album's length consists of Reed droning on about random nonsense over some loose Metallica riffs, with Metallica front man James Hetfield singing an occasional verse here and there.
Supposedly, the album is based loosely around two plays, also titled "Lulu," written by 19th-century German playwright Frank Wedekind, but Reed's endless ranting does nothing to suggest any semblance of a unifying concept or plot.
While a great part of Lulu's failings can be attributed to Reed, who wrote most of the lyrics, some blame must be laid on Metallica as well for even agreeing to collaborate with this washed-up old hack in the first place. Also of note, Hetfield probably sings his stupidest line since St. Anger's title track ("I need my anger to be healthy!") on Lulu, proclaiming, "I AM THE TABLE!" on "The View."
That one line, however, and the laughter it provides, is the only good thing about Lulu, and was the only point on the album where I was at all entertained. Ultimately, this album proves two things: First, Lou Reed is a senile old man. Second, after putting out their first quality album in years with Death Magnetic, Metallica have once again successfully proven that they truly despise their fans. In short, Reed describes what Lulu makes me want to do to myself in its opening line, "I would cut my legs and tits off."