Back in February Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett cryptically commented to Rolling Stone that the band was crafting something that was "not really 100 percent a Metallica record."
Indeed, it turned out that the band was working with Lou Reed on a full album; a collaboration with Ke$ha would have been scarcely more surprising. The joint effort Lulu will hit the streets on November 1st, and will take its inspiration -- musically and lyrically -- from early 20th-century plays by German expressionist writer Frank Wedekind. Perhaps understandably, the album is being approached with much trepidation and concern from those in the metal community.
No music from the work has yet surfaced; until that happens we at West Coast Sound have decided to practice cautious optimism. In fact, if it's bad, there might even be unintended positive repercussions. In that spirit we offer you five reasons not to fear the Metallica/Lou Reed partnership.
5. Lulu will help Metallica get "experimental" music out of their system.
Having been together for 30 years, Metallica is widely criticized by hardcore metal aficionados who believe they haven't been the same since their 1986 classic Master Of Puppets (or Kill 'Em All, take your pick). Our hope is that with Lulu they'll get any experimental leanings out of their system. That way, when it's time to return to the studio for the next proper Metallica album, they'll be ready to go in the complete opposite direction, constructing that awesomely sick thrash masterpiece follow-up to Master that hardcore fans have been waiting for.
4. They'll Be Inspired To Spend More Time In The Studio
Since touring the entire world following the success of 1991's Black album, the average time between new works from Metallica has been five to six years. (ReLoad doesn't count, since that was leftovers from the Load sessions.) The fact that they are in the studio doing anything at all a mere three years after the release of Death Magnetic is thus astounding. One of the criticisms of post-1991 Metallica is that their albums have suffered from the band's over-thinking and micro-managing of every song, which squeezes out spontaneity. A return to a schedule of new albums every two to three years might give the group a chance to tap into their impulses better.
3. Lulu can't be worse than St. Anger
2003's St. Anger had a budget in the millions, took almost two years to complete, and nearly broke the band up. For months prior to its release, Lars Ulrich talked about how it was fun to "play some really, really fast stuff again" and namedropped hot metal bands of the moment like Meshuggah, all in an attempt to win back cred they lost during the 1990's. Then the album came out, and it fucking sucked. St. Anger sounded like it was recorded in a rest stop bathroom, and displayed lyrical inanity that made "Don't Tread On Me" (the band's previous lyrical low-point, from 1991's "Black Album") come off like The Iliad. All Lulu has to do is be not as bad as that, and we'll consider it progress.
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2. Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo's Creative Voices Might Finally Be Heard
Ever since Cliff Burton passed away, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich have held Metallica's reins with an iron grip, controlling pretty much all of the songwriting and lyrics. But Lulu shows that the duo are no longer demanding 100% creative control. In the press release announcing the work with Reed, James seemed to relish the idea that he "could take off my singer and lyricist hat." Thus, perhaps James and Lars will allow Kirk and Robert to contribute some ideas to the next Metallica album. And, if all of this turns out well James and Lars may even be open to crazier ideas...
1. Who Knows? A Dave Mustaine Collaboration Could Be Next
The promotion cycle is in full-swing for the New York stop of the Big 4 tour, featuring Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. It takes place this Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. Working with James and Lars again is clearly on Mustaine's "bucket list." (He drives home the point here and here.) Sure, prior to Metallica's collaboration with Lou Reed, we would have written this off as a Steven Adler-style pipe dream. But since they seem to be happy with the work they have done on Lulu, maybe James and Lars can let go of the past and finally pursue a MetalliDeth project. (MegaTallica?)