Mainstream alternative golden boy uses heavy metal pros as interchangeable heads on his home-built robot – mad science, indeed.
Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters spent a few years putting together an album’s worth of metal tunes, then recruited such all-stars as Lemmy from Motorhead, Cronos from Venom and Max Calavera of Sepultura to provide vocals and lyrics. He named the creation… Probot.
Grohl tries out several different metal sounds, from crunchy, driving death metal to lead guitar-powered ’80s-sounding stuff. Add that to the different singers on each song, and Probot definitely has that compilation feeling, less an “album,” more a “project.” There’s no real continuity except for the vague, dark lyrics.
So it’s no surprise that the record is full of hits and misses. On the ass-kicking “Red War” Calavera sings about war with Afghanistan over Grohl’s noisy, halting rhythm. The liner notes say the song was written a week before 9/11. How could Calavera have known? Could it be… Satan?
“Shake Your Blood” is a little lighter, a little more rocking, but, whoops, Lemmy can’t sing anymore. The unpredictable “Dictatorsaurus” goes from semi-auto machine gun guitars to a pseudo-alternative chorus, but it’s followed by the repetitive, boring “My Tortured Soul.”
Lyrically, Grohl’s songwriters seem to have approached their contributions as such – contributions to someone else’s record rather than something their own name would be affixed to. The triteness gets silly at times. On track five, “Mother Earth wept / As they tore off her dress.” On track six, “Mother Nature cries as / Darkness fills her eyes.”
I tried writing this review with the record playing, but I couldn’t concentrate with that racket. So, I’m not a metal guy and this album wasn’t aimed at me. But who is it for? Grohl fans aren’t going to recognize him. Meanwhile, his wide range of experimentation means that many metal fans could find this “project” full of skippers.
[Travis Hunter’s all-time favorite metal band is Beavis and Butthead.]