Metallica helped Reed perform “Sweet Jane” and “White Light/ White Heat” in October 2009 at the 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame concert in NYC. It worked, so the thrash icons and VU legend got together to record an album of Reed’s older, less familiar material. The concept shifted after convening at Metallica’s Bay Area studio. As Rolling Stone reports, Reed suggested they go in a different, ultimately interesting direction:
He called the band, proposing a record of songs he’d written for Lulu, a theatrical production of stories by the German author Frank Wedekind, directed by Robert Wilson and currently running in Berlin.
“Lars and I listened to the stuff,” Hetfield says of Reed’s demos, “and it was like, ‘Wow, this is very different.’ It was scary at first, because the music was so open. But then I thought, ‘This could go anywhere.’ ” Metallica started writing parts built from vocal rhythms and electronic patterns on the demos.
The result is at once unpredictable and viciously tight. “Pumping Blood” opens with a drone that breaks into a crunching march, goes into speed-metal gear and breaks into free-fall sections – all over seven minutes, cut live in one take. Another track, “Mistress Dread,” features Reed singing across a relentless staccato riff played at manic velocity. “It doesn’t feel like we’re his backup band,” Hammett claims. “It feels like we’re a different band, in a situation we’ve never been in before.” And, Trujillo notes, “it’s making us a better band.”
Reed’s humble opinion? “A marriage made in heaven … I knew it from the first day we played together: ‘Oh, man, this is perfection, right in front of me.'” The 10-song collection’s 90% done, but there’s no release plans yet (both entities are currently without a label). It also doesn’t have a title, though hopefully the guys don’t waste the opportunity for bad puns: Call it Metallica Machine Music, sirs. There’s more on the sessions at RS, who suggest a kind of Berlin meets Master Of Puppets vibe. There’s also info at Metallica.com.