Why Probot? Well, perhaps Dave Grohl thinks he hasn’t been featured on the Metal Sludge website quite enough. And you can certainly look at his self-described “metal fantasy camp” as a logical extension of his stints as hired-gun drummer for Queens of the Stone Age (where he wasn’t mixed high enough) and Killing Joke (where he sounded like a weapon of mass destruction). But even Karl Marx, who wouldn’t know doom metal from Wagner, might notice that Probot was as much a class-based inevitability as it is a vanity project.
Reading Mark Jenkins and Mark Andersen’s useful, if highly subjective, D.C. hardcore history, Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital, it’s hard not to notice that harDCore’s most important bands (Minor Threat, the Faith, Rites of Spring, etc.) were largely made up of upper-middle-class kids from Washington, D.C., or nearby suburbs such as Arlington. The bands formed by lower-middle-class punks from the more distant Virginia and Maryland suburbs were outsiders by comparison: a little less orthodox in their thrash, a little more inclined to the occasional cover, and a little moremetal than your average cue-ball heads. Scream was one of these bands, and before achieving Nirvana, Grohl — a longhair from distant Springfield, Virginia — was their last drummer.
And after all, Nevermind resonated with metal dudes as much as it did with punks, with kids who may have been fans of Venom, Celtic Frost, and Sepultura — whose lead singers all make appearances on this monster of rock. Grohl wrote the riffs, and he hammers like a god, letting his hero singers (‘scuse me, “vokillists”) write the lyrics and man the bellows. Lemmy’s “Shake Your Blood” is the same song the MotÜrhead frontman has been howling since Earth cooled, but since that howl is the sound of punk and metal copulating like beasts, he can do what he wants.
But Grohl squeezes more brilliant moments out of his geographic brethren. D.C. refugee and stoner-rock guitar deity Scott “Wino” Weinrich (Saint Vitus, the Obsessed) busts out a truly whacked solo on the mountain-size “The Emerald Law,” while former Void guitarist Bubba Dupree’s skate-punk shredding and Corrosion of Conformity bassist Mike Dean’s everyguy yell turn “Access Babylon” into killer crossover thrash. Guys in C.O.C. and Napalm Death T-shirts scared the hell out of me in middle school, and I just cowered with my Rites of Spring tape. But for Grohl, punk and metal pissed off teachers equally.