For years now, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has half-jokingly vowed that he was going to release a balls-out death-metal record. He reiterated that threat last year while touring for the quiet half of the 2005 double album In Your Honor. So it's surprising that Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace is Foo Fighters' most restrained album yet. It might even be called easy listening.
It doesn't appear that way at first, though. The opener, "The Pretender," begins with clean guitar and Grohl's quiet voice, but only 30 seconds pass before drummer Taylor Hawkins starts pounding his snare. A typically huge, riff-heavy chorus follows a minute later. "Let It Die" begins the same way—quiet, clean—but takes longer to kick in. The album returns to that template on "Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running)" and "But, Honestly," but the more striking moments come when Foo Fighters abandon rocking out altogether. The fleet finger-picking of "Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners," an instrumental collaboration with guitar virtuoso Kaki King, stands out in a good way, but the next song, "Statues," takes a left turn with a Bread-esque intro and contemplative piano pop. The piano returns with strings in the quiet closer "Home."
Sure, Echoes has some characteristic Foo Fighters rockers, but even they sound quieter: Producer Gil Norton (who helmed 1997's The Colour And The Shape) keeps the guitars, along with everything else, subdued. And without the usual standout hits (though "Long Road To Ruin" is solid), Echoes will probably leave fans wanting.