(Southern Lord Records)
3 1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Mar. 22, 2004
Review by Tony BonyataWhile bone-crushing heavy metal may be hell-on-earth for some and a guilty pleasure for others, for one-time Nirvana drummer-turned-Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl it's nothing more than a loving return to his roots. That's because long before he was pummeling his skins to the scent of teen spirit with Kurt & co he was banging his head to the likes of Motorhead, King Diamond and Venom throughout his formative years. Despite his notoriety as an alt rock hero though, Grohl's love affair for hardcore metal has never waned. In fact, he has just released one of the most highly anticipated heavy metal projects in recent history entitled Probot.
One of the major problems with many metal albums is that halfway through the disc the same braying vocalist often becomes grating and tiresome. Grohl has skirted this issue by incorporating a wealth of venomous vocalists and bloodthirsty brayers. Recorded in his home studio with the help of Matt Sweeney (Zwan / Chavez) Grohl laid down all of the instrumental tracks and then sent them out to many of his favorite metal vocalists from past and present. Each artist was given total freedom over the lyrical and vocal treatments.
The results are one of the most pleasingly varied metal efforts to come around in quite some time. From the pounding dark dirges of "Big Sky" featuring Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost) and "Sweet Dreams" with King Diamond (Mercyful Fate) to the breakneck speed metal of "My Tortured Soul" with Eric Wagner (Trouble) and "Centuries of Sin" with Cronos (Venom) it's clear that Grohl has got the musical backbone to hold all of these metal monstrosities together. Vocalist Mike Dean (C.O.C.) even sidesteps slightly out of the metal mold by adding a dangerous punk edge to the in-your-face track "Access Babylon," while actor / comedian Jack Black (Tenacious D) turns in a smile inducing, yet believable delivery over the Black Sabbath inspired sludge on the closing hidden number.
The two standout tracks are provided by both new and old school metal screamers. On "Red War" Max Cavalera (Soulfly / Sepultura) angrily shouts over Grohl's demolition derby rhythms, while old-timer Lemmy (Motorhead) adds his signature growl to the pedal-to-the-metal rock 'n' roll raver "Shake Your Blood."
As Grohl enthusiastically admits about the making of Probot, "It isn't about me. I'm just having the time of my life in a 'metal fantasy camp' being able to create something with these people I listened to when I was young." But ultimately Probot is about Grohl, who just goes to show that's there's not much that he can't do - no matter how far fetched it may seem.
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