Saturday, October 5, 2013

Newsted - Heavy Metal Music

Heavy Metal Music
Chophouse Records

After marking his return to the scene as a solo artist earlier in the year with the release of his debut four track E.P. ‘Metal’, Jason Newsted (Ex-Metallica, Voivod, IR8/Sexoturica, Papa Wheelie, Rock Star Supernova and Echobrain) is back with his highly anticipated full-length debut ‘Heavy Metal Music’.
Those familiar with ‘Metal’ will be familiar with what Newsted and his troupe offer up over the course of their full-length album. And in a nutshell, it’s the style of music that ties in perfectly with the name of the album itself – Simplistic heavy music that’s notably stripped back to its bare essentials.
Newsted (Who aside from lead vocalist/bassist/producer Newsted consists of guitarist/backing vocalist Jessie Farnsworth, Staind guitarist Mike Mushok and drummer Jesus Mendez Jr.) gets the album off to a bruising start with ‘Heroic Dose’, which is a huge grooving monster of a track that is up-beat, metallic and surprisingly infectious. As I mentioned on my review of ‘Metal’, 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 that works perfectly with the song’s ‘back to basics’ framework. ‘Heroic Dose’ won’t win any awards for its ground breaking or genre defying construction, but it will suck listeners in with its hypnotic groove.
The fast paced ‘Soldierhead’ is a track that most will be familiar with as it originally appeared on the ‘Metal’ E.P., and while its inclusion here seems a little unnecessary, there’s no denying that the thrashing effort was one of the E.P.’s stronger cuts, and obviously Newsted wanted to make sure that his full-length album represented the best of what the band has to offer up song writing wise.
As solid as the slower paced rock effort ‘…As The Crow Flies’ is it’s probably one of the album’s blander tracks, with the song sounding a little too repetitive over its six minute running time. In a lot of ways, the ‘Load’ (1996) era Metallica sounding follow up track ‘Ampossible’ suffers the same problems as the former. While both tracks do feature some great lead guitar work, and strong hooks to give the listener something to grab onto, the overly simplistic groove does have a tendency to become a little repetitive over time, and therefore drift over the course of the whole album.
Although the band stumbled a little with the last couple of tracks, they get things back on track with the fast paced ‘Long Time Dead’, while the heavy Queens Of The Stone Age/Kyuss stoner groove evident within ‘Above All’ is fleshed out perfectly with a chorus that really stands out as a firm favourite on the album.
Like ‘Soldierhead’, ‘King Of The Underdogs’ is reprised from the E.P. to help fill the album out. As a follow up, Newsted moves into Black Sabbath inspired territory, with ‘Nocturnus’ showcasing a far darker and doom filled direction. The song offers up a different side to what you would otherwise expect from Newsted, and with its strong lyrics and catch phrases within the choruses, it’s another album favourite.
The sci-fi themed ‘Twisted Tail Of The Comet’, which is dedicated to the late Denis ‘Piggy’ D’Amour of Voivod, obviously has its similarities to classic Voivod (I’m thinking 1989’s ‘Nothingface’), which is never a bad thing as far as I’m concerned, while the up-tempo riff heavy rocker ‘Kindevillusion’ keeps the metal flowing around the tail end of the album.
The final track Newsted offer up listeners is ‘Futureality’, which isn’t too far removed from the Black Sabbath sounding vein of ‘Nocturnus’. But as good as ‘Futureality’ is, doesn’t quite have the same impact as ‘Nocturnus’, which means the album disappointingly finishes up on a bit of a weak track.
Overall, ‘Heavy Metal Music’ lives up to its name. Sure, it’s not what you would call a complicated or technically inclined album, but it does at least rock on a primitive level. That’s what Newsted was aiming for, and for the most part, he’s achieved that objective quite well.

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© Justin Donnelly

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