When I first heard the preview track “The View”, my first reaction was “What on Earth were Reed and Metallica thinking”? If you’re going to recite words over a rock backing, someone like William Shatner does that sort of thing far better.
Despite lyrics which have been described as sounding like the work of a 14 year old Goth, and an utterly uninspired sludge-metal backing, The View is by far the best thing on it. I have listened to the whole album all the way through (only the once, mind you), so that you don’t have to.
There is no absolutely no evidence of the rhythmic inventiveness that made Metallica the genre-defining act of the 1980s on display on this record. I was tempted to say their contribution makes Load sound like Master of Puppets. But that would be most unfair on Load. Much of what we have never rises beyond the level of formless jams which don’t deserve to be dignified by the word “song”. There’s no energy to any of it, either Hetfield’s sloppy tuneless strumming or Lars Ulrich’s appallingly half-arsed drumming.
The combination of Lou Reed’s incoherent and endless ramblings about sex and death and Urlich’s lumpen thud-thud-thud drumming is the sound of a ranting drunk at the bus stop fronting a broken cement mixer. And that’s the best bits.
I am entirely unsure as to what purpose this record serves. Is the whole thing an elaborate practical joke, and if so, at whose expense? Certainly the metal community has decided more or less unanimously decided that the emperor isn’t even trying to pretend he’s wearing any clothes here. Not being a Lou Reed fan, I have no idea if any of them will claim it a work of genius, just to be perverse.
This is a terrible record which will do nothing for the legacy of either artist.