Lars Ulrich’s Mouth Is Still Writing Checks His Music Can’t Cash
I don’t know why anyone would trust anything Metallica has to say these days. Every time they have a new album coming out, they start talking smack on their last album, which is doubly offensive. “St. Anger is gonna blow Load out of the water!” “Okay we know St. Anger sucked, but seriously, Death Magnetic is gonna be amazing!!!” All they’re really doing is just continuously spitting in the faces of fans who actually take them at their word.
But in a new interview with Rolling Stone, Lars Ulrich really does go one step too far: He says that Lulu, the band’s upcoming collaboration with Lou Reed, “makes… And Justice for All sound like the first Ramones album.”
Now, obviously, sounding like the first Ramones album is not a bad thing in and of itself; Ramones is a punk classic that instantly defined that band’s sound and aesthetic, and gave the world songs like “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Judy is a Punk,” and “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” — songs which still hold up as incredible rock anthems more than thirty years after their release. And we know Ulrich is a Ramones fan, ’cause Metallica contributed to that Ramones tribute album that Rob Zombie curated a few years back.
But it would seem that what Ulrich means by this statement is “Lulu makes Justice seem musically simple.” ‘Cause as much as I love the Ramones, their stuff is not hard to play. That’s part of what made them so great — they made rock music democratic, they sent the message that anyone could potentially write a great song.
But Justice is not musically simple. It’s basically a prog album, fer Chrissakes. In fact, Ulrich said as much to MTV in 2008:
“Justice obviously was a huge record for us… We took the Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets concept as far as we could take it.. There was no place else to go with the progressive, nutty, sideways side of Metallica, and I’m so proud of the fact that, in some way, that album is kind of the epitome of that progressive side of us up through the ’80s.”
Kirk Hammett added to that sentiment, telling So What! magazine that the the title track from that record “was a bit much for me. I couldn’t stand watching the front row start to yawn by the eight or ninth minute.” The implication of those statements, of course, is that a desire to get away from that musical complexity is part of what drove the band to write the Black Album, which is basically a pop version of the Metallica of yore.
But, I’m sorry, based on the one Lulu track we’ve heard thus far, that album is not musically complex. Maybe the concept behind the album is complex — it was apparently “inspired by German expressionist writer Frank Wededkind’s plays ‘Earth Spirit’ and ‘Pandora’s Box,’” which probably sounds really smart to sixteen year olds — but from a musical perspective, it’s basically two riffs and two drum beats for six minutes. (I think there might be a third riff towards the end, but I don’t remember, and if you think I’m gonna re-listen to that garbage for the sake of research, you’re nuts.) As I have said many times on this site before, I am one of the shittiest guitar players on the face of the earth, and I’m fairly confident I could play a reasonable facsimile of this song.
So what the crap is Ulrich talking about? And why is he putting down one of his band’s most famous and revered albums — an album that is one of the key reasons many of us ever loved Metallica in the first place? I know most artists feel a desire to top their old stuff, but you don’t have to talk shit on the vintage material to do that; you just need to, y’know, do it. Saying that Lulu makes Justice seem like a simplistic punk record is not going to sell more copies of Lulu.
But, hey, you know what would sell more copies of Lulu? Including a version of Justice that actually includes Jason Newsted’s bass lines on it. Hey, I’d buy that in a heartbeat!
Thanks to everyone who e-mailed us about this.