More than fifteen years after the release of their self-titled debut, it seems as if the Foo Fighters were looking for a return to their roots on 'Wasting Light', with Dave Grohl enlisting producer Butch Vig for the first time since working with him on Nirvana's 'Nevermind' in 1991. That the entire thing was recorded oldschool-style on analogue type in Grohl's garage isn't immediately apparent on listening to this, the Foos' seventh album, but perhaps the throwback gave the Foo Fighters back some of the vicious energy they had at the start of their career.
In truth, Grohl's insistence that this would be their "heaviest album yet" may have been something of an overstatement. It's possible he was referring to the record's distinct lack of ballads, but it's still a long way from death-metal, using the Foos' characteristic style to create brilliantly loud but brilliant catchy rock tunes. It's almost a shame they didn't take it one step further, because when the Foos do go all out with the noise the results are thoroughly bracing. 'Bridge Is Burning' offers some brief false hope in this regard, opening the album with a fantastically mosh-worthy guitar riff, rolling, rumbling drums and plenty of screeching and screaming from Mr. Grohl.
In fact, some of this album's biggest let downs arrive when the pace drops on lower key numbers 'These Days' and 'Walk'. Though neither could ever be described as "slow songs", they both present with mellow and slightly banal guitar openings, yet completely lack the kind of emotional resonance of which the Foos prove they're capable on the potent 'I Should Have Known', where Grohl exclaims in a growling cry "I cannot forgive you yet" against a backdrop of mournful strings. Still, for the most part the Foos keep the energy up, even dishing up one of their most ear-splitting guitar solos ever on lead single 'Rope'. Elsewhere, an alternate guitar style and backing vocals from Husker Dü's Bob Mould add depth and range to 'Dear Rosemary', another clear highlight. On this basis, we can only hope the Foos go even further back to basics next time round.