Probot – Review


(Southern Lord)
By Brian Varney

For those who haven’t been hearing rumor of this thing’s release for several years now, the basic gist behind this project is that Dave Grohl decided to acknowledge and satiate his love for old-school metal by writing and recording a bunch of songs and sending them to his favorite metal vocalists, folks like King Diamond, Tom G. Warrior, Lemmy, Cronos, and Eric Wagner, among others, who then added lyrics and vocals and sent ’em back.

This is the kinda thing that sounds good as a concept but almost never works when you’re presented with the actual thing, which is why I didn’t hold very high hopes for it, even though I like Dave Grohl and some of my favorite vocalists appear in the credits. However, much to my pleasant surprise, I found myself enjoying quite a few of the tracks immediately. The tracks with Eric Wagner, King Diamond, and Wino are my favorites, which is perhaps not such a surprise, since they’re probably my favorites of the vocalists included, and Grohl has done a pretty accurate job of copying, or at least mimicking, the general style of their bands, resulting in voices I like singing songs similar to the ones that caused me to like them in the first place.

This does, however, bring to light Probot‘s main flaw, which is lack of band identity. I don’t really know if I’m supposed to view Probot as a band or not, but it’s not really possible to listen to these 11 tracks as an album. Because the voices and styles vary pretty wildly from track to track, this feels more like a mixtape of ’80s metal outtakes than it does a true album. It’s the exact sort of thing that’s ripe for mixtape cherrypicking (and tape it would have to be: The CD is copy-protected, so there’ll be no putting these tracks on a mix CD, sonny), but an album it’s not, so it’s pretty tough to play more than two or three songs at a time before you’re ready to hear something else – in my case, usually something else with the vocalist I just heard. Dunno if Mr. Grohl would consider that a good thing or not, so I can’t really judge Probot to be a success or a failure, just a CD with some good songs. And what the hell’s wrong with that?
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