Ahhh, Probot. The name of Dave Grohl’s metal project has been sending ripples throughout the music scene for years. The list of announced guest vocalists was a veritable who’s-who from metal’s golden era. Anticipation, and curiosity, began to grow. Fake tracks began popping up on those pesky file sharing services. One genuine track did leak out, however, after an airing on some British radio station, before Grohl even had a label for this damn thing. Sure, the sound quality was bad (as you might expect for something recorded off Internet radio), but it was enough to let me know that this was going to be something special.
That track was “Shake Your Blood”, Grohl’s collaboration with Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. Lo and behold, it sounded just like a Motorhead song. Derivative? Probably. Unoriginal? Definitely. But that is Dave Grohl’s whole point here.
See, he had set out to make an album that would be a throwback to the days when metal ruled all and before it became a breeding ground for crossovers and genre-splitters. The concept was simple: write the music, and let the voices put their words, and their distinct touch, to it. In what is ultimately a glorified tribute album, Grohl has written an album of solid material with a strong collection of vocalists that will give this thing some serious underground credibility.
Things start off with “Centuries of Sin” featuring Cronos of Venom. A fast-paced number with a nasty main riff and an ultimate headbanging chorus, you’ll almost want to go back and check your old Venom bootlegs to see where this song came from. “Red War” features Max Cavalera of Soulfly (and ex-Sepultura) and sounds a bit like the latter band’s Roots-era material. While strong in its own right, it seems to pale next to most of the other material. Still, you won’t want to skip this one. Finally hearing a quality version of “Shake Your Blood” was a great experience. It kicked ass in shitty sound, and it kicks even more ass here. Then again, when has Lemmy ever done anything bad?
Mike Dean (Corrosion of Conformity) and Kurt Brecht (D.R.I.) are up next in succession. Dean’s “Access Babylon” is the shortest, fastest cut here, just like COC’s Dean-fronted Technocracy days. Brecht delivers a track, “Silent Spring” that musically is a pretty far cry from your average D.R.I. cut, but the lyrical theme of a deteriorating environment is right in line with some of the band’s later material.
Time to slow things down with Lee Dorrian (Cathedral/ex-Napalm Death) and “Ice Cold Man”. No, not a ballad – it’s doom! With music hinting at his more recent material, it may not be the ultimate for the old school fan, but it’s done well, and without some of the cheese that has found its way into Cathedral’s material. “The Emerald Law” with Scott “Wino” Wienrich (ex-Saint Vitus/The Obsessed) is fairly straightforward, as is “Big Sky” with Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost). The difference is that the latter track sounds nothing like Celtic Frost, and Warrior hardly sounds like Warrior! In some way, I’m sure, that’s still cool.
Voivod’s Snake drives home “Dictatosaurus”, a track that sounds more like Voivod than their last studio album did. Very cool. I’ve never been much of a Trouble fan, so Eric Wagner’s “My Tortured Soul” doesn’t really do much for me, but Grohl loves the guy and his band, so more power to them. I’m sure fans of that band will appreciate it. Closing out in grand fashion is the one and only King Diamond and “Sweet Dreams”, a creepy little track that lands somewhere in between Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, the band. The King is a master vocalist, and uses at least 3-4 different pitches and tones for this one, which means it sounds like classic King material.
Overall, this is a fun album written by a fun guy who loves metal and is getting to work with his favorite singers. Funny thing is, this is an album that is easy to either love or hate, depending upon how you feel about these sorts of collaborations and the fact that at the middle of it all is a guy who has won more popular music awards than the featured vocalists have sold albums. If you’re smart, you’ll sit back and enjoy this album written by a fan wanting to show his appreciation for his old-time heroes. For me, the CD finishes and I go back to start the trip all over again.