Over the past year artists have been clamouring to one-up each other when it comes to inventive ways of releasing music. We’ve had U2’s iTunes debacle, Wu Tang Clan’s multi-million dollar, lone copy of ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’, Beyonce’s all-video album, Thom Yorke’s Bittorrent record, Aphex Twin’s deep web ‘Syro’ shenanigans and now comes perhaps the most thought-out and considered of them all; Foo Fighters’ eighth, ‘Sonic Highways’.
This Friday the first episode of the LP’s accompanying HBO documentary series will broadcast Stateside, before coming to the BBC later this month (October 26). Each of the eight shows details the making of a different track in a different US city, presumably resulting in the definitive US road trip record.
The ever-eager Dave Grohl couldn’t quite wait another 24 hours to give fans a healthy taste of the new record though. A snippet of ‘Something From Nothing’ was already unveiled via an illuminating, five minute long trailer for the show earlier this week, but now we get to hear the first track on the new album in its entirety.
Unmistakably Foo Fighters, it sets the LP up to be suitably imposing and as epic as the ambitious set-up behind it. Showcasing the band at their most visceral, they pummel through towering riffs, skip through varying time signatures and get almost worryingly rage-y. Opening with a rusty back porch blues guitar, overlaid with Dave on soft croon duty, it quickly slinks into being a far slicker beast. There are classic rock chord progressions, hints of 1970s Aerosmith and a definite menace at play, audibly grounded in the group’s mutual love of Black Sabbath.
Building throughout, the track seems like four songs in one – which is the kind of value we’re after, seeing as ‘Sonic Highways’ only runs to eight tracks in total. “I threw it all away because/I had to be what never was,” yells Dave, heavy with portent. Complex without being showy, it’s a snapshot of a band at the peak of their powers and confidence. Recorded in Chicago with Steve Albini – who produced Nirvana’s final studio album ‘In Utero’ – it’s unsurprisingly heavy, though its darkness is shot through with the undeniable joy behind its creation.