Review by Tobias on February 16, 2004.
If you’ve been paying any attention to the metal scene lately, you’ll know that the new band Probot is a frankensteined assembly of Dave Grohl’s (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) heavy metal wet dream. The album plays out like a Metal’s Greatest Hits compilation not only because each song has a different style, but because each one is vocalized by a different metalman. Because of this unique feature, it is difficult to generalize about the album other than to say it will probably be one of the best albums released this year.
Another unique trait here is that while Grohl wrote all the music and played every instrument with exception of some guest guitars. What he did not write however were the lyrics. Not a single one. The plan was to have his favorite metal singers write their own lyrics and vocal arrangements. This adds a great deal to a less unified style in Probot, but also a more definitive reflection of the singers’ original bands.
Probot’s self titled debut starts off with plenty of muscle and a few barrels of heavy; the first two tracks are fronted by Cronos (Venom) and Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly). This sets quite a standard for the album up front, but then the style gets a serious rock injection with ‘Shake Your Blood’, fronted by none other than Lemmy Kilmister. This song would easily stand out as a shining moment on any Motorhead album. The heavy duty rock is flung into a hardcore punk-metal piece lead by Mike Dean (Corrosion of Conformity) in a sound not heard from him since the days of Animosity.
It is at this point during the album that there seems less inspiration in the songwriting because the gripping sound of prior tracks just doesn’t seem to stick for the tracks performed by Kurt Brecht (DRI) and Lee Dorian (Napalm Death, Cathedral). Perhaps I speak to soon because even as I write this, the songs are growing on me.
Once past the two iffier middle tracks, my favorite of the album, ‘The Emerald Law’, performed by the immortal Wino (The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Place of Skulls) emerges in atmospheric perfection and intense masculinity that is hard pressed not to illicit the pumping horned hand from its listeners. This song is like bikers on acid having a fistfight for fun. If Probot were to settle on only one vocalist, Wino would be my pick.
Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost) cranks out the next tune with effectiveness and is accompanied by a waahed-out guitar solo, but Wino’s is a hard act to follow. This track leads nicely into what might be considered the melodic aberrations on the album: ‘Dicatatosaurus’ with Snake (Voivod) and ‘My Tortured Soul’ with Eric Wagner (Trouble). These are fantastic songs with catchy choruses and much more to offer than I have space to write about.
Sweet Dreams is a classic King Diamond track that… well… makes me laugh. It epitomizes the campiness that can be found throughout metal history while still coming out as a striking performance by King. It is here that Probot drives it home that this album is about reminding us where metal comes from and that those roots aren’t dead and buried by countless extreme metal albums that have nothing to offer but repetition. Probot isn’t just a great record, it’s an important one.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.4 out of 10