Review Summary: Comebacks are a wonderful thing.
There is something to be said for legacy. While every band wants to be “successful”, that isn’t always enough. In order for music to do more than ride the radio waves, it needs an x-factor. Something that will make it stand the test of time and attach a label to the band saying this is something special
. The Foo Fighters accomplished this feat with the resounding success of The Colour and the Shape
, a record that combined radio accessibility with good old fashioned rock and roll. The problem with The Colour and the Shape
was that it left the band struggling to recapture that peak for nearly six years, or two album lengths, after its release. Spiraling into a realm of mediocrity, the Foo Fighters sought to recapture that sensation they acquired from the release of The Colour and the Shape
…a sense of pride, worth, and long-lasting image. With their names on the line, the band composed the comeback album of their careers, simultaneously saving their legacy and returning them to relevancy. This album was titled In Your Honor
In Your Honor
is a unique album for the band from start to finish. Yes, it follows the staple sound of radio rock, and no, it isn’t particularly experimental. But the Foo Fighters accomplish two things on this record that elevate it above comparable works. First of all, it is a double album featuring a no-frills-attached rock n’ roll disc, along with an all acoustic disc. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the music on In Your Honor
shows the Foo Fighters returning to their classic sound. This is never more evident than it is on the album’s opening and self titled track, “In Your Honor.” The song builds slowly, carefully introducing the electric guitar as David Grohl screams:
Can you hear me
Hear me screamin'
Breaking in the muted skies
This thunder heart
Like bombs beating
Echoing a thousand miles
Immediately, there is this feeling that something epic is about to transpire…something larger than life. This feeling is met with the full realization of every quality one could hope for in a Foo Fighters song. Grohl screams his heart out, articulating his willingness to die “for you to feel alive.” Who “you” is, in this case, is open to debate; however, it is most likely a moving tribute to the late Kurt Cobain, who was Grohl’s former band mate as a member of Nirvana. Some have also speculated that the song’s meaning could refer to the troops in Iraq, since at the time of the album’s recording, the band had spent time on the campaign trail with democratic candidate John Kerry. No matter what the meaning is, one thing is for sure: the song is a chilling, ambitious introduction to the record that features furiously talented drumming, incredibly meaningful lyrics, and a tightly-crafted sound. In Your Honor
doesn’t relent after this, with an entire chain of worthy follow-ups in “No Way Back”, “Best of You”, “DOA”, and “Hell”. Each tracks furthers the Foo Fighters’ return to form. The songs have a “full band” sound and the instrumental quality is every bit as strong as the songs are catchy. The flow is equally as impressive, as the listener is left feeling like they are caught up in a consistent, yet always changing, storyline. With that said, the second half of the first disc has some weaker moments. “Free Me” serves mostly as a buffer between two songs of superior quality (“The Last Song” and “Resolve”) and earns the stamp as a filler track. “End Over End” is also a bit repetitive, and long at that. However, the first disc is still a uniformly impressive work that makes up for what the Foo Fighters’ previous two albums lacked.
The second disc exchanges the aggressive edge for a completely acoustic set. This is often a good reason to throw up a red flag, seeing how so many bands have attempted this and failed miserably. Such concerns are understandable, considering how difficult it would truly be to create an entirely acoustic album
that sacrifices nothing in the process. While the acoustic disc on In Your Honor
doesn’t quite reach that level of perfection, it is still quite the accomplishment and, by its conclusion, doesn’t leave anything to be desired (besides maybe more Foo Fighters). This disc has its share of ups and downs, but when the band hits a groove, it is well worth sifting through the less impressive plucking and strumming. “Miracle” is one of the clear highlights, with a catchy beat, soothing acoustic guitar strokes, and an encouraging message:
Everything that we survived
It's gonna be alright
Just lucky we're alive
Got no vision I've been blind
Searching every way, you're right here in my sights
“Still”, the acoustic album’s opener, is an equally inspiring song that slows the pace down even more (almost to a crawl). Nothing is lost in the pace change, as the band creates a beautiful atmosphere between each careful note played, and a soft humming in the background of Grohl’s plea, promise I will be forever yours, promise not to say another word
. With that said, the lyrics shine throughout the entire record, from the aforementioned title track to the very end of the second disc. While the lyrics are strong throughout, they are especially evident on the acoustic tracks, where Grohl’s vocals have little choice but to become the forefront of the music. Whereas this sets up failure for many bands, Grohl rises to the occasion, showing a side of him that was not nearly as present on other albums. His vocals also sound improved, even by comparison to the first disc. In the end, the acoustic side of In Your Honor
lacks the power and epic feel of the first side, but it contributes several worthwhile gems that elevate the album to another level. Thus, In Your Honor
becomes more than just a typical Foo Fighters album.
As a whole, In Your Honor
is just what the Foo Fighters needed to return to the head of the rock genre spotlight. It is by no means a perfect record but it accomplishes everything that it should, even with its weaknesses. Although the album contains twenty songs, it is a surprisingly easy listen that never becomes dry or tedious. Despite its “standard rock” sound, it is so well executed that the lack of innovation doesn’t seem to be a problem. Starting to get the picture? This is, quite simply stated, quality rock music that shows the Foo Fighters still have plenty more to offer. Comebacks are a wonderful thing.