Sound — 9
I've read a few comments and points stating that Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace is a mix of both sides of In Your Honor. Personally, I have no idea what those people were listening to. Sure, ESP&G has some slower songs, but so has almost every other Foo Fighters album. Some of the songs remind me of The Colour and the Shape's "February Star," being quiet for a while before exploding into a wave of distorted guitars, thumping drums and driving bass. ESP&G is perhaps the best Foo Fighters CD since There is Nothing Left to Lose. There's some good, solid, heavy rock, some down-and-out screamers, and deep, quiet songs. Every one of them is recognizable as a Foo Fighters without sounding just like another Foo Fighters song, a problem found with One by One. The introduction of using piano on the album (setting aside it's use on the acoustic side of In Your Honor) also expands the group's sound into areas not touched upon before, mixing lighter, softer intros and verses before diving into the band's known rock sound. It also seems as if Chris Schifflet may have found his place in the band as well. We've experienced touches of his guitar playing on "The One," on the Skin and Bones DVD, and live in concert, but on ESP&G he lets it rip, playing solos previously unheard on most Foo Fighters songs. Taylor Hawkins, previously credited on In Your Honor as singing lead vocals on "Cold Day in the Sun," now has expanded credit as doing backing vocals on several songs in addition to piano. Their expanded roles have considerably tightened the songs and made them better than any other Foo Fighters release to date. Gil Norton's production is excellent. He's really brought out the best in the band, and this album proves it. These songs sound better than One by One and In Your Honor, and good credit should go to Norton for that.
Lyrics — 9
The band has done remarkably well with the lyrics for ESP&G. Everything seemed to work well in regard to the songs, and nothing seemed out of place. Dave Grohl has always been good with his songs, being able to go from singing to screaming and back again. ESP&G further proves this, from the haunting introduction of "The Pretender" to it's in-your-face verses, and straight up thundering chorus. In contrast, he sings "Home" without the slightest raise of the voice to something that seems out of place. It's unfortunate that too many bands frontmen feel the need to scream a verse out that's accompanied by an acoustic guitar; Grohl knows when to do what, and isn't afraid to let his singing voice shine and let his screamer let loose on the next song, where it's more appropriate.
Overall Impression — 10
In all reality, the Foo Fighters are in a league of their own. Formed in 1995 with a foot in the door of the grunge scene, they are a long-standing band who has survived changes in popular music, has a strong fan base, and manages to still sell a boatload of albums. Every previous studio album has managed to go platinum, and though it probably won't happen overnight, ESP&G is likely to do the same. Every song manages to impress, from the soft to the loud, the most thought-out lyrical line to the lyricless beauty of "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners." After 12 years as a group and from previous experiences, the Foo Fighters know what they're doing, and even when stepping outside of the box, they manage to impress. This is an album to love. If lost, stolen, or broken, I'd get it again. In fact, if ESP&G continues to impress as it initially did, this may be my stocking-stuffer for friends come Christmastime.