Sound — 8
Well I figured I cut to the chase and sum up my thoughts on each song.
01. "Something From Nothing" - First single, the song we've had the longest to get used to, and in my opinion; still the best song on the album. Yes the main riff sounds eerily similar to "Holy Diver," but that doesn't stop it from being another Foo Fighters great. Slow and steady start which builds to the crescendo leaving Dave's signature scream, Will go off a treat live.
02. "The Feast and the Famine" - I get a big "The Colour and the Shape" vibe off this song. Probably the song that sounds the most like a typical Foo Fighters song on the whole album. Hard and loud from the get go, all the way to the finishing chords. A top song for any long time fan of the Foos.
03. "Congregation" - Follows the call back influence to Foo Fighters of years gone by, I could definitely picture this on "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace." It starts off as a good solid song, and builds impressively to finish harder and grander than before. My only slight on the song is the underutilisation of Zac Brown.
04. "What Did I Do/God as My Witness" - After the first three songs, the start of this song came off really unexpected. This is the first clear indication that this wasn't going to be your typical Foo Fighters record. Sounds like 3 separate songs wrapped into one, so here is my take. 0:00 - 0:39 and 2:46 - 3:29: Slower, stop start bridge portions of the song with mainly just Dave singing solo. Certainly something a bit from left field, could have been utilised a bit better. 0:40 - 2:45: "What Did I Do" - Upbeat and rockier portion of the song. A tad generic but definitely captures the classic Foo Fighters sound they have found over their career. 3:30 - 5:44: "God as My Witness" - slower and more epic sounding, easily the strongest portion of the song. You have to give credit for this song, it certainly aims high and shakes up the typical formula. Doesn't quite come off but is still one of the more solid efforts on the album.
05. "Outside" - One of the better songs on the album in my opinion. Showcases what I believe to be Foo Fighters at their best; hard, groovy riffs from start to finish. The lack of a characteristic Grohl scream and the breakdown section at 3:11 drags a touch to bring it down a peg or two, but still one of the high points of the album.
06. "In the Clear" - Featuring the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band, another song that sounds like Foos from days gone by as it could well have come from "One by One" or "There's Nothing Left to Lose." Sticks closer to the hard rock formula that serves the band best, and grows on you a good deal eventually but doesn't quite do enough to remain overly memorable.
07. "Subterranean" - After the well broadcast news that this song is inspired by Kurt Cobain and Dave's Nirvana days, I guess I just expected a bit more. After the rip-roaring effort of "Wasting Light," the tone of this song reverts to some of the slower darker songs of their earlier days. Personally, the 6 minutes of this song drag, but I can see how some would love this new style of song.
08. "I Am a River" - Carries straight on from the previous track and in my opinion is only a slight improvement. Certainly feels like an attempted epic album closer, but doesn't quite hit the mark. Sounds like the type of song that will leave you feeling totally indifferent, or have you thinking it's their newest masterpiece. Unfortunately for me, due to its repetition and dragging run time it's the former option.
Lyrics — 8
Part of the whole spectacle of this album was the fashion in which Dave Grohl wrote the lyrics for the songs. After interviewing the local musicians and personalities in each city; he drew quotes and inspiration from the transcripts and experiences.
Personally I don't take a whole lot of focus on the exact lyrics and focus more on the melody and complete sound (unless they are noticeably awful). But the lyrics seem no better or worse than normal. Some of the songs become a bit repetitious, but after watching the "Sonic Highways Documentaries," it gives each song far more context.
Overall Impression — 8
A lot of this album takes multiple listens to get used to, and you could be forgiven for feeling a tad underwhelmed after all the hype. But after a few run through and viewing the "Sonic Highways TV Series," the songs definitely grow on you. Having said that, I'd say that this is one of the middle tier Foo Fighters albums, and not quite as good as its predecessor, "Wasting Light."
"Sonic Highways" blends a range of influences and new ideas with the classic Foo Fighters sound we know and love. Whilst it doesn't quite attain the epic status it reaches for, it still will leave you entertained, looking forward to the "crazy new sh-t" Dave, Chris, Pat, Nate and Taylor have cooked for album number 9, and screaming your lungs on the Sonic Highways World Tour. Album highlights - "Something From Nothing," "The Feast and the Famine," "Outside."