Like Pat Boone did with In A Metal Mood, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters/Nirvana/Queens of the Stone Age fame is trying to connect an audience drawn to his pop-based heavy foo music to a genre in which they might not normally dare to tread, in this case metal. Now we’re not talking Motley Cr¸e, Dio, Poison or even Metallica kind of metal; this is the dark stuff, the pure hardcore stuff that even I somehow managed to avoid: Napalm Death, Celtic Frost, Sepultura, Venom, Motorhead, King Diamond and others.
Over three years in the making Grohl wrote all the songs, played nearly all the instruments and invited all of his dark metal heroes to sing, one per track. Each song seems tailor-made for each vocalist, often being styled in homage to the vocalists own band. While no one would argue that Grohl is one of the premier rock drummers breathing oxygen, his guitar chops are a bit sludgy and belie his punk origins. But any lack of technical prowess is more than made up for in enthusiasm with nearly all vocalists delivering amazing performances.
Hardcore punk meets thrash metal in “Centuries of Sin,” where Cronos from Venom growls and rages through Grohl’s grinding riffs. “Red War,” sung by Max Cavalera of Sepultura, is menacing in its crushing wall of guitars and a melody that would make the bravest soldier turn tail and run. Motorhead’s Lemmy weighs in on “Shake Your Blood,” an excellent Motorhead clone. The blazing “The Emerald Law,” sung by Wino, has strong foundations in Queens of the Stone Age, while “Dictatorsaurus,” featuring Snake from Voivod, could easily be a heavy Foo Fighters song - go figure! One of my favorite tracks is the hidden “I Am The Warlock,” sung with intestine-rumbling intensity by Jack Black.
My wife Melynda, an avid Dave Grohl fan, should
not mistake this review to state that I don’t
think Probot is brilliant and thus consign me to
the couch to rethink my views. Nay, this metal
tribute album is boatloads of fun for the whole
family and it’s only the lackluster and
repetitive King Diamond track that I can’t stand.
The variety of each song, in the guitar and drum
sounds to the vocal delivery, makes this album
bear up under repeated listens. But I’m left
wondering how much better it could have been had
some of these amazing and legendary guitarists
(and bassists?) accompanied the singers to the
recording sessions. Like how many licks it takes
to get to the center of a Tootsie-Pop, the world
may never know.
Originally published 2004 in WhatzUp.