Today’s New York Times article about the album begins: “The three titans of rock put down their sushi and unleashed a Babel of gush. Lounging in a luxury hotel suite 26 floors above Lower Manhattan…”
There’s so much about those opening sentences that makes me cringe. But am I surprised? Is it strange that the once long-haired, eternally-drunk, speed metal demons are now eating sushi and “lounging in luxury hotel suites?” Not really. Ever since the Napster debacle, when Metallica revealed their true colors as money grubbing rich bros as opposed to down and dirty metal rockers, the band’s sound and success has been a stagnant languid endeavor.
But when their collaboration with Lou Reed – the venerable frontman of The Velevet Underground – was announced, my hopes were raised, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, these once great rock giants could create something beautiful. Sadly, it was not to be.
I managed to write down notes on the first five songs before throwing my pen down in despair, and suffering through the last five, forcing myself to ignore the urge to throw off my heaphones and crush them on the ground. Here are those notes:
So it took Lou Reed to inform Metallica that you can write a song in a major key. Three chord simplicity is not Metallica’s strong suit. And Hetfield screaming (“small town girl”?) under Reed’s non-singing ramblings just sounds weird. This sounds like a strange mashup between a Van Morrison song, a bad power-pop chorus, and the weakest Hetfield vocal line ever.
This very well might be a recording of the first jam these guys ever had, though it sounds much simpler and dumber than most high school garage bands could even shoot for. Way to underwhelm.
Somehow this song is worse than the talk show of the same name. Hetfield rips off Iron Man, Lars has been reduced to a set of cymbals and a double bass drum, and Kirk is basically lost in the terrible mix. Has Reed finally put out something that’s worse than Metal Machine Music? It’s quite possible, but this time, the joke’s on the guys in Metallica; the rest of us are well aware of how inane this is. Unless of course Metallica is in on the joke as well, and this was only way that Lars could guarantee that no one would download his music. In which case, the jokes on no one and the whole situations is just sad and pathetic.
It’s times like this that I wish these guys kept themeselves at the top of the speed metal game. … And Justice For All was enough experimentation; you guys have had your time. Can’t you just go back to playing good music?
At least we can hear Hammet for the first time in years. But Reed’s lyrics are way too well annunciated to be that disgusting and explicit, and thus I will never listen to this song again.
Finally we have the galloping guitars and drums from “Kill ‘Em All.” So where are the guitar solos and screaming vocals?
People named James Hetfield should never sing backing vocals. People named Lou Reed should never sing lead vocals over Metallica. If only those two rules had been followed, this album never would’ve been released. Sigh.
That’s all I was able to handle. At this point, I went through the five stages of grief, by the end of which the album had mercifully ended, and I was able to shelve it, never to listen again.
Please do not listen to this album. Your ears may try to kill you.
P.S. If you read the entire NYT article, you’ll find Iggy Pop claiming he liked Reed’s Metal Machine Music. This is an outright lie, as the album is nothing but four endless tracks of layered, unlistenable (sic), cacophonous feedback. Though, considering this is Iggy Pop, I’m going to chalk that comment up to either: a. the fact that he can no longer hear, or b. that Iggy Pop is full of shit.