After all of the Dave Grohl love I’ve been sending his way, Grohl went and fell off a stage and broke his leg. But, he is so badass (and such a thoughtful musician), that he went to the hospital, got his leg fixed up and went back on stage to finish the set! Holy cow.
This is amazing (and he must have incredible endorphins (or something else) to be able to do this (the video is long because it shows his re-arrival):
Grohl has always been very open about his love of heavy metal–and the liner notes here go into pretty good detail about he bands he grew up listening to. He wanted to create a kind of tribute/dream lineup album of metal vocalists. As far as I can tell he was sitting around and banging away riffs and every time he got one that he liked, he recorded it. He eventually added bass and drums and made demo tapes out of them. Then he contacted some of his favorite metal singers from when he was a kid and asked them to write lyrics and sing.
I assume that Grohl sent the demos that sounded most like the bands to the appropriate singer, because so many of them are spot on for the original bands. The Venom song sounds completely like Venom (Cronos’ bass certainty helps) and it’s one of the best songs here. I don’t know Sepultura that well, but the music fits perfectly with Cavalera’s style. And this song is just fantastic.
The Lemmy song sounds unmistakably Motörhead, again possibly because Lemmy plays bass, but the riff is pure Motörhead. It’s another great song and one that the Foo Fighters have played live.
The song with Mike Dean is very punk, very C.O.C. It’s followed by another punk/metal song from D.R.I. This song also matches perfectly with Brecht’s style of singing on the more metal side of D.R.I..
Lee Dorrian used to sing in a guttural cookie monster growl with Napalm Death, but in Cathedral, he turned to proper singing. I don’t know Cathedral, but the main riff coupled with the twin guitar solo notes from Thayil make a great epic song, especially that mosh section in the middle (I didn’t think Cathedral did mosh but whatever), although at 6 minutes it does go on a bit.
I also don’t know Wino, so I don’t know if this is the kind of thing he sang on, although I do hear a bit of Saint Vitus vibe from it. There’s a really long middle section which is interesting for the backwards guitar solo, and while it’s a little long, when it comes out of that, the heaviness is really great.
Tom Warrior is a fascinating guy with all kinds of tricks up his sleeve, so the weird industrial sound on top of the heavy bass is pretty interesting. There’s no way Grohl could hope to emulate Voivod’s Piggy, so he doesn’t even try. Rather than playing up to Voivod’s proggy style, he goes deeper to the heavier stuff. And, perhaps it’s Snake’s voice, the bridge sounds very Voivod. The chorus is more poppy than what Voivod might do, and yet it’s a great song. Voivod’s Away also designed the album cover.
I loved Trouble when I was in high school, although I don’t really remember them that well now. This songs sounds bit more classic rock than metal (and I recall Trouble being pretty heavy), and yet Wagner’s voice works very well with the style. I just read that Trouble went through a more psychedelic period and the middle section ties in nicely with that, so maybe this is inspired by later period Trouble.
Grohl says he was excited to get King Diamond, and who wouldn’t be. Kim Thayil is back to create a suitable Mercyful riff (although it could never live up to the classic Fate). But the mid section’s doom riffs are right on. The song showcases some of the King’s vocal acrobatics, although not quite as many as I could have used (there are some excellent high-pitched notes in there though).
There’s a bonus track at the end of the disc which features Jack Black doing a suitably funny but accurate metal tribute.
This is a really solid heavy record that lets some classic metal singers back on the scene. There won’t be a second Probot record, but there may not need to be one anyhow. I also like that he picked some slightly more obscure singers rather than the obvious Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson type of singers, even if they would have also been interesting).
- “Centuries of Sin” (feat. Cronos of Venom)
- “Red War” (feat. Max Cavalera of Sepultura)
- “Shake Your Blood” (feat. Lemmy of Motörhead)
- “Access Babylon” (feat. Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity)
- “Silent Spring” (feat. Kurt Brecht of Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
- “Ice Cold Man” (feat. Lee Dorrian of Cathedral and Napalm Death, and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden)
- “The Emerald Law” (feat. Wino)
- “Big Sky” (feat. Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost)
- “Dictatosaurus” (feat. Snake of Voivod)
- “My Tortured Soul” (feat. Eric Wagner of Trouble)
- “Sweet Dreams” (feat. King Diamond of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden)
- “I Am the Warlock” (feat. Jack Black of Tenacious D)
[READ: February 13, 2015] The War at Ellsmere
I’ve enjoyed Hicks’ books in the past–both the ones she’s written and the one’s she’s simply illustrated. In this book she does both which means you get big eyes and the dark hair.
As the book opens we meet Juniper, a girl who has just enrolled in Ellsmere Private School. We meet the headmistress and learn the history of this beautiful school (established in 1810). And then we find out that Juniper is there on a scholarship (merit based) and that Juniper is well aware that she will likely be there to “liven things up for the blue bloods.”
When Juniper meets her new roommate Cassie (who hears her talking to herself), Jun immediately goes on the defensive–until she sees that Cassie is actually quite a nice girl. (Nice, Jun, you just insulted Bambi).
But it’s during the orientation that we meet the real antagonist of the story–Emily, a pretty blonde girl who immediately insults Cassie and calls her “orphan.” When Jun gets involved, it suggests that it will be an interesting year for all of them.
Jun and Cassie do hit it off and Cassie even kind of helps Jun deal with the uniform. And while Emily gives them a hard time, they’re able to laugh it off, because Jun has really taken the sting out of her.
Then one day while on the grounds, Cassie tells Jun about the real history of the place (she has been there since she was a little girl). It involves two brothers and a hunted deer.
Despite her attitude, Jun is very serious about her academics–that’s why she wanted to go to Ellsmere. So when her first grade comes back lower than she expected, she is really upset. When Cassie tells her that she got an even worse grade, Jun tells her to get cracking. And with Jun’s help, Cassie’s grades improve. This upsets Emily because she is always the best. The insult was one thing, but endangering her standing as top girl will not be tolerated So Emily hatches a plan and it is sure to get Jun kicked out of school–and tarnish her record to boot.
The ultimate resolution is mystical, which I didn’t expect. It kind of makes sense although I wish that there was more mention of the mystical nature of the school. But I loved the resolution, which wasn’t obvious at all. Hicks writes a great story and her art is just fantastic with it.
The story also has an introduction by Hope Larson, another great artist and story teller. She talks about going to a private school not unlike Ellsmere and talks about Hicks’ online comics, which are a real treat.