This sort of album is supposed to fail. Get a superstar and build a large revolving cast around him or her. Santana and Rob Thomas. Bleechhh. Herbie Hancock and Jessica Simpson. Speeww. Dave Grohl and King Diamond? Hmmmmmm . . .
Dave Grohl indulges the many metal sides to his soul and creates one hell of a rocking piece. Some people on this page complain that there aren’t guitar solos galore and a bunch of triggered double-pedal work like there is on a Fear Factory album. Well, you’ll notice that there is no cameo from that guy from Fear Factory here. A lot of these artists here are from the “one- bass-pedal-is-good-and-we-only-need-a-ten-second-guitar-solo” school of eighties metal. Cronos from Venom gets things going in true doom style at the beginning of the album and things hardly let up from there. Max Cavalera bellows his way through “Red War,” which by the way has double bass-pedal. There are some pretty sweet time changes on this one. The only song I don’t really like much here is Lemmy’s “Shake Your Blood.” I know Lemmy personifies all things metal and I love his other work as much as anyone else, but this song sounds like a toss-off. He could have been more metal here, for sure.
Things really range all over the metal map, which could be bad. But it’s not. It’s fun and extremely impressive. Like the best of metal artists, Grohl doesn’t have to stick in one niche category (e.g. thrash, doom, metalcore, extreme, blah blah blah). Metal is music, making it capable of infinite permutations. D.R.I., C.O.C., Cathedral, Voivod. He rocks on all of their styles and does it convincingly. He almost goes over into hair territory with Trouble’s Eric Wagner on “My Tortured Soul.” Grohl makes this fun, making you raise your devil fingers to a major chord progression and melody, of all things. You could never do THIS to Warrant. Maybe you could have if Grohl was Warrant’s drummer (I know, that’s blasphemy . . . it’s a joke, strike it from the record).
The album ends with the piece de resistance: King Diamond’s “Sweet Dreams.” I personally don’t think that the King ever sounded any better than this. It must have something to do with Grohl’s comparative restraint on the instruments. He knows how to lay down an appropriately creepy doom guitar pattern while not overpowering it with a bunch of notes. Basically, he highlights the singer on these tracks while proving way more than competent at providing the backup. This really works well with that depraved sicko King Diamond indulging his absurdly strained falsetto, “I’m crawling out of my skin,/ you’ve got to let me in/ to your sweet, sweet, sweet dreams.”
The only thing that is missing on this album is a few more guitar solos. This is the only area where Grohl falls short musically and it shows. While I am not from the school that says every song needs a two minute solo, I could use more than a couple of good solos here. Grohl calls in the splendiferous Kim Thayil to ice Lee Dorrian’s “Ice Cold Man” with some highly-processed glissandos and trills and this works wonderfully. Wino sings “The Emerald Law” while shredding his guitar within an inch of life by the middle of the song: jackpot! The rest of the album has a dearth of solos. Just a couple more would have taken this album up to near a five. The Voivod or Sepultura songs would have especially benefited from this.
The excellent production and spirited performances on this album make it far more than a period piece. This is a bunch of metal believers putting their worst/best face forward in order to put the ugliness back into rock where it belongs. Dave Grohl is merely a splendidly talented vehicle for this mission. Buy this album, but only if you want to rock in eleven different sickly sweet ways.