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Sunday Old School: Probot

When searching through the history of metal, one will come across numerous gems such as bands who were unable to break into the mainstream, collaborations (Ozzy and Miss Piggy not being one of the more treasured discoveries) and side projects. Today we'll be looking at a release which combined the latter two of those finds, which saw one of the most successful rock stars of the modern age team up with some of his cult heroes to create one solid album, the self-titled debut of Probot.

Probot was the brain child of Dave Grohl, who after performing in underground acts such as Scream, joined Nirvana, who became the biggest rock band in the world after their sophomore full length, "Nevermind" was released. Following the suicide of the group's frontman Kurt Cobain, Grohl again achieved worldwide success with Foo Fighters, which began as a series of songs he'd written at home while in Nirvana. The more the world was exposed to Grohl, the more his reputation grew, both as "the nicest guy in rock" and as a sincere fan of metal and hardcore, despite becoming a star by playing alternative rock.

After the release of the third Foo Fighters album, "There Is Nothing Left To Lose," which featured one of the group's best known songs, "Learn To Fly," Grohl decided to work on some heavier music while at home in Alexandria, Virginia with record producer Adam Kasper, who had worked on "There Is Nothing Left To Lose" along with such bands as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Queens of the Stone Age. After four days, Grohl had recorded seven instrumental tracks, each one taking around 45 minutes to complete and the tapes were shelved.

A few years later, following the release of the next Foo Fighters album, "One By One," which was massively successful, Grohl found inspiration in the Santana album, "Supernatural," which saw the famed guitarist team up with a host of names such as Lauryn Hill, Everlast and Rob Thomas, Grohl decided to revisit the material he'd recorded with Kasper and invite some of his favourite metal vocalists to perform on the material, including Eric Wagner of Trouble, Cronos of Venom and Snake from Voivod among other singers.

To Grohl's surprise, more or less all of the musicians he contacted accepted the offer immediately. While the record was created and mostly recorded in Alexandria, Virginia, only two of the singers which appeared on the album traveled there to record their parts, namely; Wino of Saint Vitus and The Obsessed and Motorhead's iconic frontman Lemmy, who appeared on the tracks, "The Emerald Law" and "Shake Your Blood" respectively, though Wino also was featured in the music video for the latter track.

Upon completion, the album boasted a veritable who's who of metal vocalists, with other singers such as Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost and Hellhammer (now of Triptykon,) Max Cavalera of Soulfly/ex Sepultura and even King Diamond joining the previously mentioned singers. The eponymous album was released in February 2004 through Southern Lord and received a warm response from both critics and metal fans, who were as delighted as Grohl to see such an array of beloved frontmen appearing on one album.

Probot would only perform live once, on an episode of MTV's Headbanger's Ball, where the lineup consisted of Grohl, Wino, Eric Wagner, Greg Anderson of Goatsnake and producer Nick Raskulinecz performing bass. Songs from the album have been taken on by some of the singers on the album however, as Venom, Soulfly and Cathedral have all performed the songs on which their singers collaborated on, while Lemmy joined Foo Fighters to play "Shake Your Blood" during a concert at London's Hyde Park. It's highly unlikely that Probot will be making a return any time soon, given that Grohl feels the record served its purpose and that another album might not feel the same. Despite this, those who were around when the record was released mostly look back on it fondly and see it as yet another reason why everyone loves Dave Grohl.

Probot - "Shake Your Blood" featuring Lemmy

Probot - "My Tortured Soul" featuring Eric Wagner

Probot - "Big Sky" - featuring Tom G. Warrior

Probot - "The Emerald Law" - featuring Wino

Probot - "Centuries Of Sin" featuring Cronos

Probot - "Dictatorsaurus" featuring Snake

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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