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Whatever your preconceptions were when you first heard that Dave Grohl was releasing a metal record, prepare to have them utterly dismantled.
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There is something genuinely special to be said about an artist that after four decades of writing music, still has the ability to surprise us. On the debut EP from his new metal project, Dream Widow, Grohl has succeeded in crafted an album that feels as much about pushing his songwriting into unchartered territory, as it does about paying homage to the metal greats that (evidently) had an enduring impact on his career. The results are simply spectacular and will undoubtedly live up to the hype that a musician of Grohl’s caliber inevitably attracts.
By way of brief background, the concept behind the fictitious band Dream Widow originated from the Foo Fighters new comedy-horror movie, Studio 666. In the film, the band rent out a mansion to record their 10th full length album. Unbeknownst to the group however, the house is cursed and Grohl soon falls under the control of a violent demonic spirit. Later in the movie, we discover that an older band named Dream Widow befell a similar fate. Dream Widow recorded one final album prior to their lead singer turning murderous, and it is this ‘lost album’ that Dave Grohl is now unveiling to the world.
Before turning on your speakers, make sure to take hold of something sturdy and brace yourself, because opening track Encino is about to launch a devastating 90-second assault on your eardrums, throttling forward at reckless abandon. Whilst you are left trying to make sense of it all (“did Dave just death growl?”), the record pivots seamlessly into a sludgy dredge of chugging guitars and crushing bass on Cold. The song reaches its pinnacle when Grohl recites “I can feel the black wind blowing cold; I can feel the red blood flowing cold” before finishing on a blistering guitar solo of sliding sustained notes. March of the Insane sounds reminiscent of thrash metal’s golden era in the 80’s and easily finds its place next to a record like Megadeth’s, Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying. In the next moment, Grohl’s sinister vocals echo through the cavernous depths of hell on Sweet Abyss, before the song builds into a groove infused metal anthem that showcases a dazzling display of Grohl drumming.
One thing is for certain: the landscape of rock music may forever be changing, but you can be sure that Dave Grohl will always be right there with it.
On Angel With Severed Wings, we venture ‘somewhere in time’ to when Iron Maiden’s galloping symphonies reigned supreme over the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Grohl then reimagines heaviness all over again with a Metallica Black Album tributary, Come All Ye Unfaithful. The EP continues by taking an experimental turn on Becoming, where Grohl delves even further into the annals of the heavy music canon. The track begins as a Pantera-style stomp, before morphing into dark passages of black metal inspired instrumentation.
Grohl leaves his absolute best to last on the epic Lacrimus dei Ebrius, which even after 10 minutes of playtime, still leaves us wanting more. First heard in the film Studio 666, the track includes guest contributions from Foo Fighters keyboardist Rami Jaffee. This remarkable composition manages to expertly transition between a diverse array of musical influences whilst taking the listener on an all-encompassing journey through the history of heavy metal. It is an ambitious creation that would have failed dismally in the wrong hands. The song features the doom-ridden sounds synonymous with early Black Sabbath, the blindingly fast and technical playing of Chuck Schuldiner, through to the powerful downstroke chugging of Metallica. It even concludes on a delicate section of acoustic guitar rooted in haunting minor chords–name it, this song has it all.
Dave Grohl may be rock music’s greatest overachiever, and for this reason we thank him dearly. Notwithstanding an already illustrious career (that is showing no signs of slowing down), the musical icon is still relentlessly in pursuit of his next great challenge, but always with the vision of keeping rock music relevant in the mainstream consciousness and propelling the genre forward into the future. One thing is for certain: the landscape of rock music may forever be changing, but you can be sure that Dave Grohl will always be right there with it.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Encino, Cold, Lacrimus dei Ebrius
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Anything metal from the 70s – 90’s