In a recent interview with Music Radar, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo was asked about the title of his band's Death To False Metal. On the album’s seemingly ironic moniker, Cuomo said, “I was very much into Slayer as a teenager, and Metallica, and what I would have thought of as the real metal. And that was an expression we used to kick around -- ‘death to false metal‘ -- because it seemed like there were so many bands coming up that didn't have that; the integrity of the bands that we loved, my brother and I and our friends.” So, not so much tongue-in-cheek but heart-on-sleeve, Death To False Metal acts as a dopey reminder of the joy Cuomo derives from being surrounded by music.
Death To False Metal is surprisingly cohesive for an odds-and-ends kind of record. That probably has something to do with the fact that the B-sides, rarities, and unreleased tracks that comprise the album were all reworked and re-recorded in the studio and put together to complete the album. For this reason, Rivers refers to Death To False Metal as Weezer’s ninth album. Because while it isn’t, it really kind of is.
Overseen by Weezer’s usual brand of social angst that is perhaps a little too aged to be charming at this point, Death To False Metal is, for the most part, a dashing little album that is to the point and seems focused (production-wise, anyway). The material contained within ranges from back in ‘93 all the way to pretty damned recent, but it mostly hangs together with similar tones that aren’t as erratic as they probably should be. Collectively, however, the content leaves something to be desired when it comes to repeat listens. In that, there isn’t much worth listening to more than once.
Save for a couple of tracks that dabble in these weird little ill-advised Weezerfied stabs at pseudo metal (no doubt a nod to the album’s title) all the tropes of a Weezer album are represented. There are the friendly harmonies, the self-effacing sensibilities, the bouncy power-pop chords, the bad jokes that almost make you uncomfortable. But, as we’ve learned with the group’s previous four albums, the formula isn’t as satisfying as it used to be.
The first act introduces things in an inoffensive enough manner. “Turning Up the Radio,” “I Don’t Want Your Loving,” and “Blowin’ My Stack” are mostly interchangeable in the way that their structures follow Weezer’s tried-and-true methods of off-center pop. Later, “I’m A Robot” bemoans suburban life and corporate drudgery in an oddly condescending way, but manages to set things to a deliberately upbeat backdrop to offset the empty rhetoric and unfunny schtick -- making it a strange track to actually enjoy.
“Trampoline,” which comes in the final third of the album, is probably the best track here. It has a distinctive Green Album-aura to it in the way that it is completely acceptable, catchy and not at all challenging. The opposite can be said about “Autopilot,” which goes for a vibe similar to The Cars' (which isn’t necessarily new for Weezer) but kind of fails in the delivery, mainly because they put too much emphasis on the bleep-bloop of the production and not the meat of the track -- which should have been Rivers.
The worst track of the album is clearly “Everyone,” which sounds like some horribly conceived nu-metal/Weezer hybrid that is about as fun as you’d think it might be. All power chords and bravado, it did make me wonder if it is throwing a little irony our way -- but I realized about 30 seconds in that I really don’t give a shit. “I can’t see straight,” Rivers yelps toward the end of the song. Great, because we all totally need to be reminded of “We Are All on Drugs.”
The album closes with a cover of Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart.” It’s a pretty bare-bones rendition, kind of looking to subvert expectations in how straight Rivers plays things. The delivery suffers from the gimmickry, though, and it surprisingly calls to mind a time when Weezer were a little more genuine in their fuck-all attitude. Things like this seem a little too staged and postured.
In its essence, Death To False Metal is competently put together, and adequately celebratory in its own way (as the album title might suggest), but there is very little to latch on to as far as a reason for existence. By and large, these tracks shouldn’t have been on previous Weezer albums. Even the more passable ones are fairly inconsequential and largely forgettable. Though I have mostly accepted the role that Weezer plays within the newer modern rock landscape (I’m seriously no hater), it’s hard to not lament a bit for the past, when they reach back to a time when they were a different band, and deliberately polish that which should probably remain imperfect. They seem to be the only ones having fun here.