In a time when electric guitar orientated music is arguably at it's least popular, Foo Fighters are one of the few bands that have managed to transcend generations and wider music tastes, whilst all the while selling out stadiums and headlining festivals worldwide. Though they certainly have their fair share of mellow and restrained material, the group definitely know how to kick it up a gear when they want. Foo Fighters' – and more specifically Dave Grohl's – affinity for metal is well-documented. His superb Probot project showed his love of heavy music underground, as to was the Dream Widow project created for the recently released Studio 666 motion picture.
Time will tell what future lies for the act in the tragic recent passing of longtime drummer Taylor Hawkins, but their immense, and diverse catalogue, is littered with some of the best rock songs of the past two decades-plus. So while Foo Fighters’ have written some stirring, emotive anthems, let’s cast those aside for the moment and explore the 10 tracks where they threw caution into the wind and rocked the hell out…
“All My Life”
Aptly kicking off our list is one of the greatest hard rock album openers of all time, “All My Life”. Combining the key attributes of both hard and stadium rock, it’s main chugging riff and excellent chorus makes for one of the finest things Foo Fighters’ has done. The tension building, intro-reprise in the bridge section that leads to a massive climaxing final chorus is sheer songwriting brilliance.
A number that was specifically written for the live stage, the powerful, mosh-ready “Enough Space” is basically anchored off of one excellent riff. Penned for the Foo Fighters’ second full-length The Colour and The Shape, the energy that the song packs – thanks to Grohl’s vocals and drumming – makes for a raging, 150 second loud/quiet battering.
Built around some the late Taylor Hawkins’ finest drum work, the raging “Low” is as heavy as Foo Fighters’ have ever gotten. The One By One track packs some great guitar work, but you can’t say enough about Hawkins’ playing; moving from a relentlessly fast tom-groove to 16th note hi-hats, with some wicked fills thrown-in, it’s amongst the best thing he, and the band as a whole, created. As for the Jack Black-starred film clip… Wow.
A bonus tune found only on the Japanese edition of the Foo Fighters’ self-titled debut, as well as the “Big Me” single, “Podunk” is nasty, distorted track. It’s got a super raw feel, yet isn’t super fast, rather built around more of a mid-pace, heavy groove. Tons of squealing feedback between the guitar riffs and the raw vocals are perfect for the subtly-free attack of “Podunk”.
“Stacked Actors” is a thunderous way to kick off the Foo’s third LP, There is Nothing Left To Lose. Tuned down all the way to A, it’s got a thick, crunching main riff that serves as the main backbone to the track. Sure, things calm down in the verses, but that only serves as a build when the titanic guitar part kicks back in for the chorus. Plus the celebrity-targeting, vitriol-filled lyrics only add to the aggression on display.
“The Colour and The Shape”
Despite being the title track to their sophomore release, “The Colour and The Shape” is only found on the record’s deluxe reissue, as well as the b-side for hard rockin’ “Monkey Wrench” (which narrowly missed out on our list). No dynamic flourishes or emotive balladry here, just filthy guitars, screamed vocals and powerful drums. How the feedback-drenched monster didn’t make the album-proper is beyond us.
Two-minute blast “Wattershed” is a raging riff driven, to the point track. No subtly here; just a quick pace, Grohl’s strong vocals and a great, heavy chorus. With a foot in both hardcore punk and metal, it’s certainly far more visceral than the stadium-filling rock Foo Fighters are better known for. Great underrated song.
Another selection from the first Foo Fighters’ full length, the scream-filled “Weenie Beenie” is rip-snorter of a tune. The main riff is pure metal, while the bridge dives into almost thrash metal territory. While the chorus passage is a little more melodic, it’s far from polished, commercial sounding rock. There’s a real rawness to it that gives it a convincing attack.
The heaviest song the Foo’s had written in years, “White Limo” certainly harkens back to the band’s aforementioned debut record. Lots of driving riffs, and Grohl shredding his vocal chords, it almost sounds like Nick Oliveri-era Queens of the Stone Age at times. It gets bonus points for it’s lo-fi, Lemmy-starring film clip too.
Yet ANOTHER heavy Foo Fighters' number starting with the letter ‘W’, The Colour and The Shape’s“Wind Up” is a thick, riff-driven hard rocker. While the band had begun their ascent to mainstream rock stardom on their second album, material like “Wind Up” clearly showed the were still more than happy to lay down some heavy, no-BS tunes. Plus Grohl really does have a great scream.
How did we go? Are there other Foo Fighters’ songs that are harder and heavier than the ten we’ve chosen? Also, are you heading to any of the Taylor Hawkins’ tribute shows? Let us know in the comments!