Foo Fighters reclaim Alternative Rock throne with Wasting Light

Foo Fighters reclaim Alternative Rock throne with Wasting Light

“Wasting Light” is the first Foo Fighters album to feature the band on the cover

Anthony Scianna, Content Editor

April was a big month for Dave Grohl and his band:  the Foo Fighters. It all started on April 5th when a new documentary on the band, “Back & Forth,” was released in theaters worldwide for a one day special event with the feature length documentary being followed by a 3-D performance of the band’s new album “Wasting Light”. The documentary played commercial-free on VH1 that weekend, followed by music videos by the band. There was also a day dedicated to the band on the music channel FUSE called “Foo Fighters Takeover” where the channel played music videos by the band along with concerts, interviews, and specials.

All the promotion built up to April 12th, when the band released their seventh album “Wasting Light” worldwide. The album was the first to feature the new five person lineup for the band, as former lead guitarist and longtime touring guitarist Pat Smear was added to the band as the second main guitarist splitting parts with current lead guitarist Chris Shiftlett. With Dave Grohl still playing rhythm guitar this presented the band with an opportunity to blend three distinctive guitar styles together to make one solid sound that “sounds like the Foo Fighters” according to Grohl. It works really well on the album as it adds heaviness and complexity to the sound.

Besides for adding Pat Smear to the band the Foo Fighters also recorded the album in a different spot than they usually do. A couple of years ago the Foo Fighters built a recording studio that they’ve used to record the two previous albums “In Your Honor” and “Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace”. But Grohl felt the band was too concerned with being musical and wasn’t playing like a rock band. So for “Wasting Light” the band decided to record in Grohl’s garage. It made the recording process more enjoyable as they were able to bring their families to hang out at the Grohl house while they recorded in the garage. Another interesting change with the recording process was the equipment the producer Butch Vig, who is reuniting with Grohl for the first time since 1991 when Nirvana made “Nevermind”, used to achieve the sound Grohl was looking for. Instead of recording digitally and editing it and making it perfect the band decided to record on analogue tape equipment and convert it digitally in post-mastering. This presented the band with the challenge of playing well enough where they didn’t have to edit certain parts of the songs, but between the garage and analogue equipment they were rewarded with a raw heavy sound unlike anything the Foo Fighters have ever done.

From front to finish “Wasting Light” is phenomenal. It starts with the high energy “Bridge Burning”, where the first vocals we hear from Grohl is him screaming “These are my famous last words”. Grohl uses his patented scream more frequently in “Wasting Light” to really committ to that garage rock band sound he was aiming for. The lead single of the album, “Rope”, is the best example of how great the Foo Fighters sound with three guitars. They are all playing different parts at the same time, and blended together it sounds really good.

Making so much music with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme has finally influenced Grohl in a Foo Fighters album, with the song “White Limo” being the best example. It’s unlike anything the Foo Fighters have ever done, but the high velocity vocals from Grohl work with the Queens of the Stone Age gritty guitar style and results in a raw rock sound.

Some songs sound like the normal Foos, but the quality of the songs is at its highest since 1997’s “The Colour and The Shape”. “Alandria” brings back memories of “The Pretender” from their last album, but with a better melody and less intensity. Even the filler of the album is great for the most part, with “A Matter of Time” and “These Days” being the standout of the bunch.

The second to last track is the eerie “I Should Have Known”, which shows Grohl singing with torment and guilt in the beginning and slowly building into a rage he unleashes at the end of the song. The song was written about Grohl’s longtime friend Jimmy Swanson who died of a drug overdose a few years ago, but it can just as easily be interpreted as being about Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain. Throughout the song, Grohl’s emotional charge comes from his knowledge that he could have gone down the same road as his close friend had he not been given a different fate. The building suspense of the song ends with him sounding somewhat psychotic and it’s hard not to feel his pain.

After the tormented “I Should Have Known” the band closes the album with the comeback tale “Walk”. The song talks about a man who overcomes his demons and starts over one step at a time. The highlight of the track is when Grohl takes what seems to be just another line in the verse and turns it into the refrain by chanting it over and over and continuing on with the momentum. It’s one of the highlights of the album and is the perfect way to end it. Its ability to counter “I Should Have Known” makes it the best album closer since “New Way Home” from their prime effort “The Colour and The Shape”.

“Wasting Light” is a very good album that goes harder than anything they’ve ever done and is a collection of well written songs by Dave Grohl. Their previous album “Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace” was really good as well, but it didn’t have that album feel and seemed more like an album of singles. The songs were good for the most part and some were great, but nothing compared to “Wasting Light”, their most focused album since 1997, and something for Grohl to be proud of and move forward on.

This album could be the beginning of a new era of the Foo Fighters if they can build on this momentum. And with a headlining gig at this year’s Lollapalooza already confirmed, it looks like this could be the Foo Fighters’ year…again.