For three years, we've been hearing rumors that Dave Grohl — former drummer for NIRVANA, singer and guitarist for his own band, FOO FIGHTERS, as well as sometime drummer for QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE — one of the last standing heroes of alternative rock, was compiling an album of thrash metal tunes, with each one sung by a different lead singer from the golden age of the genre, meaning the Eighties.
Dave Grohl?? Who woulda thunk it??
After a long, drawn-out birth process, during which Grohl did indeed assemble a selection of lead singers that resembled an old Aardschok festival or something else equally improbable, PROBOT has at last arrived. Each tune is performed musically by Grohl and several of his buddies, while each of the dozen cuts is sung by a different thrash legend, ranging from Cronos of VENOM to MOTÖRHEAD's Lemmy to VOIVOD's Denis "Snake" Belanger (Cronos and Lemmy, two of the most distinct bass players of their time, also add their signature four-string sound to their cuts).
What's come out of this whole process is pure fun and nothing more than that. Grohl has eerily captured, in almost every song, the musical style that fits the singer. "Dictatorsaurus", which Snake sings, sounds remarkably like VOIVOD, somewhere between "Killing Technology" and "Nothingface", while "Shake Your Blood" could have come off any MOTÖRHEAD album of the last decade. The thrash/hardcore crossover tracks featuring C.O.C.'s Mike Dean and D.R.I.'s Kurt Brecht are brief and scrappy. There's a slightly jarring effect when "Ice Cold Man" starts up and you fully expect to hear TROUBLE's Eric Wagner crooning ominously over the music, but instead you get CATHEDRAL's Lee Dorrian. It still works, though, and we get to hear Eric a little later, on a track called "My Tortured Soul", that sounds like an intriguing fusion of Chicago's veteran masters of doom with a twist of modern rock.
That's about as modern as it gets, though. FOO FIGHTERS fans will be in for a severe disappointment if they pick this up expecting to hear the usual fare from Grohl, but those of us who still treasure our collections of Metal Forces magazine will bang our heads in joy. There's nothing innovative here, and in many ways, it's a disc that's hard to criticize, although one could argue that none of the songs are especially memorable.
But that's not what this was all about. Grohl and friends have captured the sound and feel of one of the most exciting eras in metal history, right down to the low-budget "indie label" production, and delivered a dozen simple, to-the-point thrash tunes in tribute to music that Grohl himself clearly loved. Congrats to him for celebrating the bands and singers that defined that era and have arguably influenced scores of metal bands that have followed in their wake.