So, I’m sure you’ve heard about Metallica and Lou Reed doing an album together. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke. Then I thought it was a horrible idea.
Then I heard the album, and I was right on both counts.
Metallica really can’t help but do completely inane things, seemingly hell bent on proving “the haters” correct in their notion that they’re a bunch of spoiled, worn out crybabies. I could go through their list of offenses, but it’s too long; the bottom line is that they’ve made a career out of growing into a rock ‘n roll cliche. They started out with street-level metal that had grit, had chops, and it seemed kinda evil….
….and now they’re recording concept albums with Lou Reed.
I heard a live version of one of the tracks from the album, and I was surprised, almost shocked: it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good either, but it sounded like your basic Metallica track from the last twenty years: bland, vanilla, and not really worth your time, but not as bad as most things on the radio.
The above song (“Iced Honey”) turns out to be the only remotely listenable song on the album.
The rest of the album? It’s funny. It’s hilarious.
Lou Reed sputters filthy old-man lyrics on top of Metallica’s old-man metal; it sounds like a pornographic Muppet Show parody. It’s not just that his lyrics are obscene and absurd, it’s that he doesn’t so much sing them as he rambles them. It’s not quite spoken word, but it’s not singing either.
It’s also extremely difficult to listen to.
While Lou Reed rambles on his rocking chair, James Hetfield does his best impression of a teenager doing a James Hetfield impression. He seems to be trying really hard to sound mean; instead, he achieves a level of unintentional self-parody that’s downright embarassing.
The compositions are mostly lazy, sounding as if they were hastily rushed together or pieced together from outtakes. It’s as if Lou Reed showed up at the studio insisting that the (comparatively) spry young rockers record an album with him. Metallica, always agreeable to bad ideas (ie that album with the symphony), obliged. At certain points, it seems like certain songs (“Pumping Blood”) are on the verge of being good, or even passable, but they inevitable just fizzle out and die. Other songs, like “Cheat On Me,” overstay their welcome at the two minute mark.
The entire album seems like it could have been interesting, if it didn’t feel like everyone involved with the album wasn’t completely apathetic toward its existence. If Metallica could still play anything but a re-hashed and neutered brand of metal, it might work. If Lou Reed’s voice didn’t sound like he was recovering from a cold, it might work. If anyone involved read the lyrics before they were recorded, it might work.
Noted genocidal maniac Hitler agrees: