You guys ever hear of this little band called Foo Fighters? I’m sure you have. They’re rad, and they’re everywhere, and they have been for a great long while, and they will continue to be for even longer than that because they are as rad as they are.
I mean, if I were to say:
There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
it’s pretty much guaranteed that approximately 100% of anyone who heard that began air drumming at some point during that sentence. That’s how rad the Foos are.
So anyways, in November of this year, Foo Fighters are going to release their eighth studio album, Sonic Highways (which you can pre-order in a multitude of configurations here). As far as albums go, the idea behind it is pretty intriguing: the eight tracks on the album were recorded in eight different US cities, each with its own rich musical history (Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.). They’ve also got a documentary series on HBO chronicling this endeavor, the first episode of which airs tonight. And as an added bonus to all of this, the majority of the album’s eight songs feature a musical guest from the city in question. So NYC’s Chuck D will make an appearance on I Am A River, the track record in New York, and DC’s Bad Brains will appear on The Feast and The Famine, Carrie Underwood on Congregation (laid to tape in Nashville), and so on. There’s already so much depth to these eight songs, and we haven’t even heard most of them yet. So I’m excited. You should be to.
I say “most of them” because the album’s first song, Something From Nothing, was released yesterday. It was recorded in Chicago at Electrical Audio by none other than legendary curmudgeon Steve Albini, a man who to the uninitiated is perhaps most famous for being the guy who recorded Nirvana’s final studio album, In Utero. Granted, this song had been teased by Dave Grohl a few weeks ago in this amazing clip, unbeknownst to us – but now we can listen to the whole thing, including that blood-curdling scream.
Oh man, isn’t that great? I love it! I love it! I – wait, what?!?!
That’s SO COOL! Holy Diver!!!
Yes, that’s right. Grohl & co. reached back some 32 odd years and grabbed a portion of the main riff from Holy Diver, the eponymous tune from Ronnie James Dio’s very first solo album, and put it in this song. Given that the whole idea behind the album is all about musical history and legacy, a riff lift like this just kind of makes sense. Also, it’s not like Grohl and Dio (RIP, sir) were strangers; they both appeared in that wretched Tenacious D movie together. And Grohl’s gone on record as being a big metal fan.
How big? This big:
That right there’s a press photo taken from the Probot recording sessions. Now Probot was a little-known album Dave Grohl spent four years willing into existence in the early 2000’s – and it bears a striking resemblance to Sonic Highways in terms of its structure. You see, around that time, Grohl (being the multi-instrumentalist madman that he is) recorded several heavy, heavy tunes, each with a different take on a sort of classic metal flavor. Very gradually over the next few years, he began reaching out to a series of venerated metal musicians, asking them if they’d like to do vocals on any of these songs. According to a Rolling Stone interview, Grohl’s dream list was as follows:
Eric Wagner from Trouble, Snake from Voivod, Cronos [from Venom], Lemmy and Wino. We started making phone calls trying to find all these people.
All of those folks wound up on the Probot album, as did Max Cavalera (Sepultura/Soulfly), Lee Dorian (Cathedral/Napalm Death), Mike Dean (Corrosion of Conformity), Kurt Brecht (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles) and Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost). Oh, and King Diamond *and* Jack Black are on it, too. As is Kim Thayil (of Soundgarden). So yeah, this thing is LOADED. And while it’s not the most engaging album ever, it comes from a place of love (the video for Shake Your Blood, the song featuring Lemmy, comes from perhaps a place of too much love – the caged, dancing Sucide Girl models is pretty icky and decidedly un-Grohl, and not in a good way. It’s the kind of attitude that metal, and music videos in general, need to jettison much more quickly than they actually are).
Grohl doesn’t need the pedigree he’s got to lift a riff from Dio, and whether or not you’re down with it is going to depend largely on how much the idea of the association of the two musicians together pleases you. Personally, I love it. I don’t think I could love it more, actually. It doesn’t bother me, in much the same way that Jet stealing the a healthy dose of Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life didn’t bother me back when that was a thing.
You know what does bother me, though? This:
Something in my throat.