Dave Grohl is a greedy man.
Five years ago he released an album as part of the supergroup-trio Them Crooked Vultures. Not quite sated with that musical sojourn, he’s now part of Teenage Time Killers — less a supergroup and more a megagroup bulging with nearly 30 musicians including, amongst the better-known ones, Slipknot‘s Corey Taylor, Lamb Of God‘s Randy Blythe and Foo Fighters‘ Pat Smears.
Conceived by Corrosion Of Conformity‘s Reed Mullin and Mike Dean, this audacious attempt at lassoing together members from hardcore punk to rock and metal in one place can be heard on the group’s wryly titled ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 1‘ album.
The opening track ‘Exploder’ slides in with a pulsing, fuzzy bassline before doing exactly what’s expected of it and bursting into life with an energy that dominoes down through the rest of the 20-track album. Because there are so many songs gagging on your visceral cords to swallow in one go, the fact that each is under three minutes is a rather congenial, if not canny, act of songwriting and production skill that keeps the listener engaged enough to last the whole way through.
All backing tracks were recorded in Grohl’s California studio and curiously, for a man associated so closely with drums, he stays off the sticks and contributes on bass guitar only, with former Queens of the Stone Age member Nick Oliveri also popping up somewhere. At its heaviest, there are vestiges of Black Sabbath‘s unserene notes ricocheting around and, seeing as metal music is rarely, if ever, on good terms with melody at the best of times, it’s not until Matt Skiba (of bothAlkaline Trio and Blink-182) takes to the vocals on ‘Barrio’ that the ongoing aural aggressions are slightly mollified and the chance for a tuneful pop-punk chant arises.
The album is begging to soundtrack mosh pits, from festivals to clammy clubs, which could also be its downfall; it’s in danger of falling into ‘just muzak’ category yet, without ever deviating away from the binding heavy guitars/hammering drums denominator, there is enough space to share and satisfy across genres for any pit action to hear the sound of metalheads cracking equally against colourful punk pates shoving around rockers.
Mullin aside (who sings twice), every track has a different singer — from Blythe’s incoherent Mephistophelian ramblings on ‘Hung Out To Dry’ to Tommy Victor’s (of Prong) more limpid laments on ‘Days of Degradation’ — so there is a real impression here of value for time and money with such a variation.
Amongst all the, lots of, tattooed testosterone, there is even time for a little humour. ‘Ode To Hannity’, sung by Dead Kennedy‘s Jello Biafra, is a rough recitation to music of John Cleese’s poem about American radio and TV host Sean Hannity. Loosely tying the oblique worlds of Cleese and punk together is funny enough in itself and this anarchic, breakneck mess is on the right side of nonsense.
When one can occasionally hear what’s being said beyond all the primal screaming, topics include a bit of death, blood, money, walking the plank and general existential anger at nothing in particular. But words are mere perfunctory here — it’s the expulsion through raging sounds of whatever one needs to get out that matters, and this cathartic cleanse provides just that: momentary relief.
The album duly closes with a cover of Rudimentary Peni‘s ‘Teenage Time Killers’, where this band takes its name from, and less than one hour on from the opener thoughts are primed to ask, “Volume 2, anyone?”.