After a maddening game of Twitter-clues, the Foo Fighters played a secret show in the tiny Velvet Jones club in Santa Barbara on Friday, unveiling their highly-anticipated new album in its sequential entirety. The performance was a blizzard of pounding rock anthems, strong evidence to support to frontman Dave Grohl’s claims that their latest is the heaviest Foo Fighters album yet.
Openers Mariachi El Bronx – alter-ego to Los Angeles hardcore gods The Bronx – appeared in full authentic Mexican regalia and employed an assortment of traditional acoustic mariachi instruments and horns to play original compositions that cheerfully defied preconceived notions of what a hardcore band (and a phenomenal one at that) could deliver in such an alien format to the genre.
The band’s punk aesthetic shone through the meticulous discipline of the mariachi arrangements, all-out immersion in the style allowing for flexibility and personality flourishes that resonated powerfully with the 300-capacity crowd.
When the Foos appeared and took their place among their respective instruments, Grohl bounded onstage, gave a gleaming, toothy grin and asked, “You guys wanna hear the new record?” – Cue roaring anticipatory enthusiasm.
The new and still unnamed Foo Fighters album, produced by old friend Butch Vig and recorded on analog tape in Grohl’s makeshift garage studio, is the band’s attempt to scrap their trajectory of studio progress and go back to doing things the hard way, more organically and as lo-fi as possible. Vig’s assertion that the new material is “primal” and “raw” was immediately proven as the band tore through their new album and an entire greatest-hits set immediately after. Grohl, lead guitarist Chris Shiflett, bassist Nate Mendel, drummer Taylor Hawkins and latest addition Pat Smear on guitar brought a furious precision to the task, surgically executing the album’s 11 tracks in sequential order, in just over 35 blistering minutes of pure Rock fury.
The 28 seconds of new material we previously heard from the band in which Grohl could be heard screaming “These are my famous last words!!!” is from album opener "Bridge Burning," a track far more pop-rock friendly than the initial indications suggested. With the repeated line “Whatever keeps you warm at night…. whatever keeps you warm inside,” a bitter send-off leads to a furious follow-up with "Rope," offering an echoing intro not unlike King Missile’s "Detachable Penis" before jagged guitar blasts kick the track into full gear. The track’s core adhesive is a slow-building melody, punctuated by howls, before a jaw-dropping drum breakdown and airtight rhythm riff leading into the final chorus.
Watch the brand new track "These Days":
The front row got a good hair-flinging sweat shower at the onset of Matter Of Time, a fairly standard Foo rocker with the repeated roaring refrain “It’s just a matter of time before… before!” At the end, Grohl wailed “What does it matter to you?!” four times over, a demanding dismissal of an offender’s token redemptive tactics.
The curveball of the album is without question I Should’ve Known, a harrowing hindsight moment that’s a roller-coaster of sadness and frustrated anger. Butch Vig believes it may have something to do with Kurt Cobain, and the idea’s not far-fetched, but we can only speculate… for now.
“I should’ve known I was inside of you / I should’ve known that was a side of you / With your hands in mine, feel me one last time,” Dave pleads, but concludes that he’s ultimately still hung up on the inflicted tragedy, screaming “I cannot forgive you yet” The song builds to a slamming close, accusatory and bitterly aware of the harsh realities taking place – a recurring theme on the album, interestingly. Discontented relationships and unresolved feelings dominate the subject matter of the record, considerably darker in tone than the majority of their previous work.
For the full review head to Antiquiet.com.