Thursday, April 25, 2013

Newsted - Metal

Chophouse Records

If Jason Newsted has proven anything in his twelve years since resigning from Metallica in 2001, it’s that he’s anything but simply a bassist. Over the years, Newsted has immersed himself in a number of projects, many of which have allowed him to branch out and take on roles such as producer, song writer and vocalist, all of which were impossible whilst being a member of Metallica.
While some of Newsted’s output post-Metallica has been a little underwhelming (IR8/Sexoturica, Papa Wheelie, Rock Star Supernova and The Moss Brothers are good examples of this), his work with Voivod and his involvement with Echobrain certainly showcased the strengths within Newsted as an all-round musician.
But after years of playing in other bands, Newsted announced in late 2012 that he had decided to step out on his own and put together an entirely new outfit under his own name. Within months of getting together, the band (Comprising of lead vocalist/guitarist/bassist Newsted, bassist/guitarist/backing vocalist Jessie Farnsworth and drummer Jesus Mendez Jr.) recorded a total of eleven tracks, with their four track E.P. ‘Metal’ the first offering from the Californian based outfit.
Given that Newsted’s new outfit is going under his own name, and that the band’s debut offering is titled ‘Metal’, there’s undoubtedly an air of expectation surrounding this release. And sure enough, ‘Metal’ marks the return of Newsted to the spotlight playing music that leans more towards the heavier side of things.
The opening track ‘Soldierhead’ is without a doubt the one song on the E.P. that’s sure to be a favourite with its fast pace thrashing Motörhead-like rocking direction. Riff wise, while Newsted keeps things pretty simple, they’re sharp and catchy enough to get the job done. What really stands out however are Newsted’s lead vocals. Unlike his growled efforts in his past projects, Newsted has developed a voice that sounds like a cross between Chuck Billy (Testament) and Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead), but with a distinctly raspy melodic edge. Again, like the riffs presented, it’s nothing amazing, but it works just the same.
The follow-up track ‘Godsnake’ is a slow moving stoner grooved track that boasts enough crunch on the guitar front to keep things interesting, while ‘King Of The Underdogs’ is a huge sounding track that is a little rawer sounding on the guitar front than the other tracks on the E.P., and features an absolute killer chorus from Newsted, which earns a place alongside ‘Soldierhead’ as a firm favourite.
Finishing up the E.P. is the war themed ‘Skyscraper’, which not unlike ‘Godsnake’, is another blues/stoner rocking number, and gives listeners another taste of Newsted’s clearly diverse array of offerings.
As mentioned on ‘King Of The Underdogs’, Newsted is taking his place leading the pack with his new project. And while ‘Metal’ is hardly going to compete against the likes of some other big name metallic outfits within the scene, ‘Metal’ is a solid and enjoyable release, and a welcome return of Newsted to a band environment where he’s the one calling the shots.

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© Justin Donnelly

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