If any band sums up the idea of ‘metal as an adjective,’ it’s Foo Fighters. No one anywhere would argue that the Foos are a metal band — alternative, sure; hard rock, why not; but obviously not metal. And yet their road-dog attitude, their mixture of driving riffs and pounding rhythms, and frontman Dave Grohl’s love and dedication to all things hard and heavy have carved them a permanent spot in the hearts of metalheads around the world (hell, Grohl even put out his own metal supergroup side-project, shining a much-needed spotlight on the vocalists of acts like Celtic Frost, The Obsessed, DRI, and more). Foo Fighters might not belong on a bill at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus, but if those dudes walked into the bar, we’d all want to buy them a drink.
And the band shows no sign of losing their metal cred — only this week, it was revealed that Grohl nearly joined GWAR in the ’80s and lent his throne to a metal bassist who got shot while stopping a potential massacre at a venue. So to both honor Foo Fighters’ metal legacy and revel in the times they went full headbanger, we rounded up their 10 tracks that no self-respecting hesher would skip or turn off.
Here are the times Foo Fighters got a speeding ticket on the sonic highway…
10. “Enough Space” (The Colour and The Shape, 1997)
It’s impossible to hear the kick to “Enough Space” and keep your head still. The song’s riffs are just so nose-shattering that when they launch, you can’t help but headbang along to them. Sure, the verse has that bouncing-bass alt-rock vibe (hats off to Nate Mendel, man), but man, when that refrain pops off, it’s like the whole world is crashing down around you, and all you can do is throttle your body along to the destruction. A track most don’t know, but that will brand itself on your psyche once you get into it.
9. “Make It Right” (Concrete & Gold, 2017)
It’s easy to hear ‘metal’ and think ‘angry, confrontational, satanic.’ But “Make It Right” is metal like “Living After Midnight” or “Love Me Like A Reptile” is metal. This song has its fly unzipped and a warm tall boy tucked into the chest pocket of its vest, and it’s not afraid if you know either one of those things about it. Complete confidence and a total lack of fucks given — is there anything more metal than that?
8. “Bridge Burning” (Wasting Light, 2011)
Let’s talk about Taylor fuckin’ Hawkins for a second. “Bridge Burning” is an example of just how vital Foo Fighters’ dynamic but persistent drumming has always been to their success. This song may have some really dulcet vocal parts and emotional riffs, but it also showcases Hawkins drumming like Nicko McBrain after eating a goddamn ghost pepper. What this cut lacks in outward muscle and bristle, it makes up for in sheer impact.
7. “Monkey Wrench” (The Colour and The Shape, 1997)
Man, that opening riff. How can you possibly stand still when you hear that opening riff? There’s a reason that, when they had to replace Korn on a date at Ozzfest ’98 when the nu-metal giants were forced to pull out at the last minute, Foo Fighters dominated automatically dominated the stage with this track. The song brings it all — instant speed, enthusiasm from the get-go, lightning in a bottle. Oh, did we mention that opening fucking riff?
6. “Up In Arms” (The Colour and The Shape, 1997)
The genius of “Up In Arms” is how it hands you a heart-shaped box that’s actually full of jalapeno poppers and live snakes. The track starts with a slow-dance sway, but moves quickly into a breakneck hard rock track with a hand-jive rhythm. The solo in the middle proves that just playing the melody with a steely edge is sometimes the most obvious yet necessary move. As thrash as these guys get, but damn, it’s pretty fucking thrash!
5. “The Feast and The Famine” (Sonic Highway, 2014)
“Black heart with a gaping wound/Put back together by a troubled groove…” Is Dave Grohl talking about Lemmy here? He might as well be, for all the road-rash attitude that runs throughout “The Feast and The Famine.” The song definitely has the band’s traditional strain and soar, but it’s also loaded with floor-shaking bellows and rests on a backbone of speed-metal rhythm We’d say this track deserves a cool thrash metal cover, but it might not sound as fast.
4. “Weenie Beenie” (Foo Fighters, 1995)
Sometimes the 1995 self-titled Foo Fighters debut doesn’t get the credit it deserves, but a track like “Weenie Beenie” is a reminder that it goes hard as hell. The song sounds written to spark off a mosh pit, never pausing for a big catchy chorus. It’s not enough that the song is distorted and screamy, but it’s also got a fun streak which feels made for throwing a mostly-full beer. That the band named it “Weenie Beenie” also adds a snottiness that’ll please headbangers requesting it from unknowing squares at a party.
3. “Everlong” (The Colour and The Shape, 1997)
It’s simple: no Foo Fighters song is as weighty as “Everlong.” It may not be the most distorted, or the fastest, or the angriest. But every single time the chorus of “Everlong” kicks in, it’s a billion-ton drop. It’s an event. On top of that, the surging momentum of the track and the emotional yearning behind its hook give it as much power as any Judas Priest classic. So rarely does the main line of a song’s chorus epitomize how one feels when they listen to it.
2. “White Limo” (Wasting Light, 2011)
It’s not just that “White Limo” is fast, distorted, and has a bitchin’ central riff (though these things definitely work in its favor). No, it’s that the song feels like it doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s opinion. Grohl just sounds nasty on this one; even in the clean-vocal chorus, the listener has a sense that they’re having a booger flicked at ‘em. Oh, and did we mention it kicks off with a Tom G. Warrior-style “UNGH” and has a video starring Lemmy? Yeah, dude.
1. “The Colour and the Shape” (The Colour and The Shape, 1997)
Holy shit, who knew they had it in ’em! It’s funny to think that the original version of 1997’s The Colour and The Shape ended with the thoughtful “New Way Home,” while modern-day fans listening on Spotify get to close things out with the title track, which was originally only released as a bonus on special editions of the record. On this song, Dave Grohl screams like an unhinged spider monkey, his and Pat Smear’s riffs are as chunky and menacing as the splatter pattern behind a gunshot wound, and Taylor Hawkins sounds like he grew three extra arms and blew a line of trucker’s speed. The song is an immortal reminder that for all the use of alternative and hard rock to describe them, Foo Fighters were forever down to get metal as fuck, even — especially — on their biggest hit album. Never skip the B-sides and bonus tracks — sometimes, they’re as excellent as this.
Words by Chris Krovatin