Post-review criticism of ‘Lulu’ is metal journalism at its dumbest

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll no doubt be aware that metal titans Metallica teamed up with Lou Reed to record the already infamous and controversial ‘Lulu‘, which certainly split fans, pundits and more down the middle. Chances are, if you’re an NME or Pitchfork, at least partial to the mainstream type, you might have found it bearable, hell, you might have even liked or enjoyed it. If however, you’re among those who are firmly in the metal camp, liking it blacker than your coffee and considering anything mainstream to be false, sellout or over the hill, you probably hated it. And make no mistake, in regards to those last few words, I fall into the latter category, as bar a few choice riffs and a few songs (‘The View’ and ‘Iced Honey’), it was a bit of a disaster and really something I’ll think long and hard about before I go back to it. If I go back to it.

What’s raised my hackles isn’t the fact that the internet’s armpit, that being haters, trolls, generally the opinionated getting in a tizz and spouting witty comments on YouTube and teh interwebs. That wave of hatred and bile is something we’ve all come to expect nowadays, even though it’s really in the minority – the majority of the metal ‘community’ have at least half a brain and an open enough mind to have a constructive criticism that at least subjective picks ‘Lulu‘ apart gradually and considerately, rather than throwing a great strop cos it’s not ‘Ride The Lightning‘!!!

No, my ire comes from the post-review criticism and fun poking that followed the inital review and is still going now. It’s been nearly a month since it was released, and I guess as the year is ending and less and less big name albums are coming out, that people might as well carry on talking about ‘Lulu‘. When people like the generally well-respected Dom Lawson of Metal Hammer magazine, the Guardian newspaper and more have the time to sit in front of a camera in presumably his house (and his room chock full of CDs) and slag off ‘Lulu‘ over the course of roughly 14-15 minutes because ‘500 words in the magazine isn’t enough’, it makes me wonder if metal journos have anything much better they could be doing. The lunchtime feature, entitled ‘Dom’s Iron Sandwich‘, was almost as energy sapping as the album itself.

[A disappointed Metallica fan, yesterday]

Now far be it for me to defend Metallica, because I certainly aren’t for what is a bad album. And Dom certainly makes a couple of good points which I can agree with. But he professes to be more open-minded than the ‘metullz’ crowd, but completely undermines his stance when mentioning James Hetfield’s appreciation for Machine Head, the modern heavy metal saviours, it seems. ‘Why not make an album like Lamb of God, or Machine Head then?’, Dom protests. ‘Cos they’re neither of those bands! Such nonsense suggestions nullify any notion of constructive and critical thought and really just becomes food for the web trolls again. Unfortunately, Dom couldn’t leave it at that. He unleashed another installment of his Iron Sandwich, entitled ‘Another Lulu Kicking‘ with a complimentary review of modern thrash band Savage Messiah tacked on the end. I’d much rather he give an up and coming band his full, undivided attention than pissing it away again on what we already know is widely believed to be a massive turd.

It sadly doesn’t end there. The great Invisible Oranges isn’t beyond lazy, shitty journalism these days, post-Cosmo Lee. Recently they published an article entitled ‘10 Non-Heavy Metal Singers Metallica Should Have Worked With Instead of Lou Reed‘, a half baked list of suggestions cooked up by now regular contributor Richard Street-Jammer. Familiar names like Henry Rollins, Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt (in a jokey reference to their ‘not metal’ album ‘Heritage‘) were mentioned – two that, I agree, could have worked – along with ridiculous suggestions like AC/DC’s Brian Johnson & classical singer Maria Callas that weighed up their apparent likelihood of the potential collaboration being either a success or a trainwreck.

IO prided itself on supporting true underground metal, and still does, and there were a lot of bands previously featured on that site that our coverage owes to them – Gripe and Wu’u to name two. Humour was brief but appropriate – see ‘Black Abbath‘ for one such example. ’10 Non Heavy Metal Singers…’ is a different matter. This just smacked of lowbrow, cheap cracks at a band who, fair enough, opened themselves up to it, have had it that many times before that really the joke is running tired. The fact that Street-Jammer and IO were the ones behind this pastiche just strings out a stale joke even more, and one that’s less heavy metal encyclopedia and more Metal Sucks. And I enjoy Metal Sucks. I just don’t expect to find it at IO.

Lou Reed & Metallica – Iced Honey (live on Jools Holland)

Put simply, what I’m getting at is that if music journos, bloggers, etc. get their kicks by feeding and joining the troll patrol at the expense of covering decent music news, up and coming bands, etc., then we’ve hit a bit of a low, haven’t we? All it serves to prove is that we’re not all as open-minded, as articulate and, dare I say, as intelligent as we like to paint ourselves to be. We get it – you think ‘Lulu’ is a debacle, that Metallica can’t do anything right any more, ya da ya da ya da. Metallica are always going to be a.major talking point, but let’s leave ‘Lulu‘ behind now, a mistake the majority of us will never unwrite. Lou Reed and Metallica could care less, given Lou has laughed off death threats from boneheaded broken-hearted ‘Tallica ‘fans’ and they seemed to perform well enough together on Jools Holland to suggest they at least find this a worthwhile venture. Which is ultimately what matters the most. It’s their creation, whether genius or monster, and no amount of whimsical ‘I would have done this’ or ‘they shouldn’t have done that’ will ever change that. Or matter.

So let’s stop fixating on ‘Lulu‘ and let’s get back to doing what we do best – bringing the best music to people’s attention, and reporting on quality news, albums, tours, etc. ‘Coz quite frankly, you’re boring the hell out of me now.

Peter Clegg

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