Probot (SouthernLord) 2004
1. "Centuries of Sin"
Probably one of the most controversial albums in metal since Metallica released their bomb "St. Anger" a year earlier. There was a ton of discussion on the metal boards about this album even before it was released. Of course the controversy all stems from the fact that Probot is the brainchild of one of the members of one of the most despised bands by most metalheads. Former Nirvana drummer and currently the leader of the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl wrote and recorded this project that features a different vocalists on each track from some of heavy metal's most respected bands. Now I realize it's hard to ignore the man behind the music here, but in reality, this isn't a bad disc. It is certainly a creative way to pay tribute to some of the Grohl's metal influences, without actually recording a CD full of covers. Certainly when you have vocalists ranging from Cronos of Venom, to Motorhead's Lemmy, to Voivod's Denis "Snake" Belanger, to King Diamond, this CD at least demands an honest listen. (Actually Cronos and Lemmy, both add their signature four-string sound to their respective cuts as well.) In the liner notes, Grohl talks about the importance of the riff and how he has forever been chasing after the perfect riff. I can't honestly say that any of the songs contained herein have earth shattering riffs. None of the songs are quite as good as the original bands that inspired them; most sounding like b-sides or outtakes from the respective bands. However that is not to say that this CD isn't enjoyable. Grohl has amazingly, in most cases, capture the musical style that fits the singer. With such a variety in style, I thought it would be appropriate to give a song by song account.
"Centuries of Sin" featuring Cronos of Venom starts things off strong. This particular thrash inspired song is co-written by Grohl and Cronos. "Red War" is one of the more modern sounding tracks on the disc, oddly enough sounding like the last Soulfly album. It's too band that Grohl didn't opt to go for the old-school Sepultura thrash sound for Max Cavalera's inclusion. "Shake Your Blood" is probably one of my favorite tracks on the disc, featuring the one and only Lemmy on vocals and bass. This song certainly does sound like a Motorhead outtake. Must have been quite an honor to meet and work with the legendary Lemmy. "Access Babylon" is pretty much old school hardcore featuring Mike Dean of C.O.C. fame. "Silent Spring" continues in the punky hard core mode, to fit the vox of Kurt Dorrian (D.R.I.). This song actually has a decent groove to it. Ahhh, but things change up for the next song. "Ice Cold Man" starts up with a slow, doomy riff that leads you to believe that you might hear Eric Wagner's screechy wail to over the music, but instead we get Cathedral's Lee Dorrian, who does a fine job. Eric Wagner (Trouble) is featured on this CD on a track called "My Tortured Soul". This song sports an intriguing mix of the Chicago doom master's sound with a slightly more modern rock twist, although Franklin's signature guitar sound is sorely missed. It would have been really interesting had Grohl invited Bruce Franklin to lay down the guitars on this track. "The Emerald Law", despite having a name that sounds like something Phil Lynott would, is a pretty standard cut. "Big Sky" is another standout cut featuring Thomas G. Warrior of Celtic Frost fame. This song is a bit more modern sounding and doesn't really represent the classic Frost sound, but is still a good song. It has a doomy, industrial feel to it and is one of the more bizzare cuts. "Dictatorsauros" is probably my second favorite track right behind Lemmy's track. This track is the only other real thrashy song, besides "Centuries of Sin" and really does have that odd Voivod sound. I should also mention at this point that the cool album art for this CD was done by Voivod's Away, giving the cover a distinct Voivod look. "Sweet Dreams", featuring King Diamond, is probably the song that sounds least like his main band. This song doesn't have that Mercyful Fate/King Diamond twin guitar attack that I would expect from King. However, as it stands, the song isn't band. The mood of this song is much doomier than I would have expected for King Diamond, but his signature falsetto vocals stand out and are as haunting as ever. The last track featured is one of those annoying hidden tracks. After several minutes of silence in track 11, a song called "I am the Warlock" featuring Jack Black begins. As good as any song on the disc, I am not sure why this songs is hidden. It's a shame that they didn't just make it track 12. Overall, despite the venom so many are spewing about this CD, it's not actually that bad. When you get together King Diamond, Lemmy, Snake, Tom G. Warrior, and Eric Wagner you might expect a big metal mess. However, what's transpires from this mess is pure, unadulterated fun!