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Classic Album Review: Probot | Probot

Grunge icon & alt-rock hero Dave Grohl becomes a metal god — with some help.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Dave Grohl is a grunge icon and an alt-rock hero — but deep down inside he’s still just a teenage metalhead at heart. And like every teenage metalhead, he has dreamed of making an album with hard-rock heroes — which, in his case, include Lemmy, Cronos, Tom G. Warrior and Wino.

Lucky for Grohl, he’s also a teenage metalhead who grew up to pound the skins for Nirvana and top the charts with Foo Fighters — so not only will those heroes return his phone calls, they’ll show up to be part of Probot, Grohl’s new side project / solo album / tribute disc / hobby / whatever.

The formula was pretty simple: Grohl wrote, played and recorded nearly all the music in his home studio, then FedExed the tunes to his favourite ’80s metal and punk singers, who added vocals. For such a Frankensteinish approach, the results are generally surprisingly solid.

Not surprisingly, Motörhead’s Lemmy is the ace of spades in the pack with the brilliantly simple riff-fest Shake Your Blood. But most of the others rise to the occasion admirably — Venom’s Cronos invokes the ancient demons on the chugging Centuries of Sin; C.O.C.’s Mike Dean breathes fire on the searing Access Babylon; underground metal messiah Wino unleashes his inner Ozzy on The Emerald Law; Celtic Frost’s Tom G. Warrior’s guttural growl darkens the plodding grinder Big Sky; Voivod’s Snake adds some bite to the punchy techno-metal of Dictatosaurus; and Mercyful Fate’s King Diamond mines his own unique vein of quasi-operatic insanity on the power-ballad closer Sweet Dreams.

If there’s one leather-clad fly in the metallic ointment, it’s the production — with their compressed dynamics and muddy tones, some of these tracks sound like the home-recorded demos they originally were. Next time out — and I sincerely hope there is a next time — Grohl should spring for some time in a better studio. After all, he’s a grunge icon, an alt-rock hero — and, as of now, a heavy metal god.