When Dave Grohl released Dream Widow earlier this year the world there was vocal confusion. The frontman of Foo Fighters, playing extreme metal? Grohl's never made a secret of his love for the heavy stuff though; from getting his first break playing in Washington D.C.'s hardcore punk scene to clattering the kit with Nirvana and teaming up with some of metal's biggest names in Probot, the Foos singer has always indulged his heavier tendencies.
That in mind, we've assembled ten of the heaviest tracks Dave Grohl has ever lent his talent to - with the not-so-small caveat that we'd only include one song per album so as to not just fill the whole list with Dream Widow and Probot.
10. Scream – Fucked Without A Kiss (No More Censorship, 1988)
Before his break into the big time, Grohl was a force behind the kit in DC hardcore. While speed had been the name of the game in his first two bands, Mission Impossible and Dain Bramage, Scream were headed in a very different direction by 1988's No More Censorship.
Fucked Without A Kiss comes off like the love child of Bad Brains' I Against I and Black Flag's My War, taking the warped melodic sensibilities of the former while keeping the insistent low-end of the latter. But it's Grohl behind the kit that keeps that hardcore pummel, a percussive animal even at the tender age of 17.
9. Late! – Throwing Needles (Pocketwatch, 1992)
The missing link between Nirvana and Foo Fighters, Grohl was tinkering with his own material even as Nirvana became the hottest band on the planet. 1992's Pocketwatch was a spiritual forebear to Foo Fighters' debut album, Grohl playing every instrument on the release, as well as writing the songs.
Far from his hardcore roots, Late!'s discordant opening notes and rumbling low-end was pure grunge and early noise punk, like somebody pricked Flipper with infectious pop sensibilities.
8. Mission Impossible – Am I Alone? (Getting Shit For Growing Up Different, 1987)
Much more faithful to the sound of American hardcore, Mission Impossible's Am I Alone lurks with menacing intent before bouncing off the walls like a hyperactive bottle rocket. Even in the song's gently building intro, you can feel the force Grohl puts into each beat, reaching his stride when the song takes off at 100 miles per hour.
7. Nirvana - Territorial Pissings (Nevermind, 1991)
If ever the question came why Kurt Cobain chose a former hardcore punk drummer to join his not-so-merry band for their big pop breakthrough, Territorial Pissings is the answer. Pure punk lightning, the song was tacit admission that Nirvana weren't about to turn their backs on their roots, the sheer bluster and bedlam of hardcore still shining through even after it had been dipped in pop polish.
6. Sound City Players - Cut Me Some Slack (Sound City Players: Real To Reel, 2013)
As any metalhead can tell you, heaviness isn't all in speed. Cheekily billed as a "Nirvana reunion" and featuring the vocal talents of Sir Paul McCartney, Cut Me Some Slack has a near physical weight as it clatters and stomps along. There were faster songs on the Sound City Players release (the Lee Ving sporting Your Wife Is Calling among them), but Cut Me Some Slack literally sounds like a behemoth sent crashing from the heavens above.
5. Queens Of The Stone Age – Song For The Dead (Songs For The Deaf, 2002)
Behind the kit for much of Queens Of The Stone Age's Songs For The Deaf record in 2002, Grohl got to strut his percussive stuff again after Foos had blown up and become radio darlings.
Song For The Dead isn't the fastest nor most pummelling track on the album (that would go to Millionaire or Go With The Flow respectively, both performed by Gene Trautmann), but the combination of Grohl's furious clattering and Mark Lanegan's haunting vocal give this an otherworldly sense of gravity. Plus Grohl's beat at the start genuinely sounds like the ignition for a jet engine.
4. Foo Fighters – White Limo (Wasting Light, 1991)
Recalling the wild-eyed shriek of Nick Oliveri on QOTSA's You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire, White Limo probably came as a big shock to fans of the Foos' more gentle, radio-inclined singles.
Grohl never hid the fact he could shriek with the best of them when the mood took him, but White Limo took it to a whole other level. The fact it has endured in setlists for over a decade tells you just how much of a blast Grohl has when untethered to go utterly wild.
3. Nirvana – Scentless Apprentice (In Utero, 1993)
What do you do after releasing one of the best-selling albums of the decade? Make sure its follow-up is as teeth-gnashingly abrasive as possible, of course. Or at least that's how it went for Nirvana, when they recorded their 1993 album In Utero.
While Nevermind hidden track Endless Nameless definitely flirted with noise, Scentless Apprentice comes in like a spike-glad boot to the face and careens off the walls until the foundations of pop come crashing down. The sheer force of Grohl's drum-beat is right up there with John Bonham on When The Levee Breaks, a thud so hard it could show up on a seismometer.
2. Probot – Red War (2004)
What would happen if you stuck Dave Grohl in a studio with some of rock and metal's biggest stars? Absolute fucking magic, that's what. On an album that features appearances from Lemmy, Cronos and Tom G. Warrior, it was Red War that took the gold standard for gut-busting heft on the first (and to date, only) Probot album.
Grohl recaptures the percussive magic and power of early Sepultura when teamed up with Max Cavalera, the pairing flirting with thrash metal frenzy and groove metal thickness before settling for all-out pressure that could squeeze diamonds out of coal.
1. Dream Widow – Encino (Dream Widow, 2022)
For a laugh, Dave Grohl went and made possibly the heaviest album of 2022. No, seriously. Released to tie in with the Foo Fighters horror-comedy Studio 666, Dream Widow is an all-out assault on the senses that makes most of Grohl's other output sound like elevator music.
Black metal, thrash, death metal - it all pops up on the Dream Widow album, but Encino shows just how wild things can get, sounding like the bastard off-spring of Devin Townsend, Mike Patton and Slayer with all the unpredictable vocal stylings, hefty riffs and utter sonic bedlam that entails. Top marks.