Newsted // Heavy Metal Music
Rate: 3.5/5.0 — Playing well is the best revenge
Label: Chophouse Records
Websites: newstedheavymetal.com | facebook.com/jasonnewstedofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2013.08.05 | NA: 08.06.2013
By now most of you are familiar with the dysfunctional soap opera that led Jason Newsted to jump ship from Metallica prior to their execrable St. Anger album. Anyone who watched the shockumentary Some Kind of Monster can see why he bailed and most probably wonder why he didn’t beat copious amounts of Danish ass and kick over the Hetfield Table™ on his way out the door. Since his exodus, Jason has proven himself to be a productive and versatile musician’s musician, recording with Voivod, playing with Ozzy Osbourne, keeping his Echobrain project running and finding time to launch his eponymous solo project Newsted. Following the simply titled Metal EP from early this year, we now get the Heavy Metal Music full-length debut and it features quite an interesting blend of influences. The bulk of the material straddles the line between straight-up traditional metal, hard rock and alternative rock and over its playtime, one can hear elements of Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Load and Reload era Metallica (in mercifully small doses) and even Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age. This all fuses into something like hard-driving, old school inflected metal with stoner rock grooves and tasty doom influences; simplistic, heavy and righteous at the same time. What makes this such an interesting listen is how carefree, uncomplicated and genuine it all sounds. It plays like an album written by a dude who’s having fun making music and playing whatever he pleases. After the prolonged shit show Mr. Newsted went through, I doubt anyone besides his former bandmates would begrudge him such freedom (because they’re really fucking lame…and WEAK!), especially when it results in enjoyably raucous and catchy music as it does here.
Those expecting a pointless attempt to out thrash Metallica (my grandma’s mobility scooter has more speed than them these days) or a return to his Flotsam & Jetsam glory days will be disappointed. Lead track “Heroic Dose” rocks out a big, bruising quasi-stoner, biker rock riff that I could see Monster Magnet or Black Label Society using and Jason sings with a rough, tough edge that frequently reminds me of Prong‘s Tommy Victor mixed with Lemmy and it fits the hard-edged music like a glove. The chorus is catchy and naturally, there’s a big bass presence rumbling all over the place. Things get fairly speedy, but not quite thrashy on the first single “Soldierhead” which sounds like Motorhead mixed with Dawnbringer and some Nirvana. The results are infectious, rowdy and ballsy and Jason’s bass playing is a pleasure to hear. The hits keep on coming with “…As the Crow Flies” which is hooky, heavy and has a winner of a weepy, doomy guitar line floating in and out.
Later on you get a weird mix of NOLA stoner rock and Load era Metallica during “Ampossible”, while “Above All” sounds like a Foo Fighters song written by Voivod and sung by a young Lemmy. Neither should work, but both do and quite well. Other winning moments come with the very Prong-like “King of the Underdogs” and the Sabbath/Candlemass worship of “Nocturnus” which sounds like rocked out doom wherein Jason channels Jon Oliva (ex-Savatage, Oliva). “Twisted Tail of the Comet” also has doom leanings and Jason unleashed a very Geezer Bulter like performance while uncorking some interesting vocal choices.
Not every song is gold and more simplistic tracks like “Long Time Dead” and “Kindevillusion” feel a bit underwhelming and incomplete, though neither is what I would call a bad song or filler.
Since this is Jason’s baby, he’s the focus of the music and his bass-work is naturally top-notch. He isn’t the kind of player that tries to overpower the guitars, nor does he feel the need to clutter things with oodles of solos like Joey DeMaio. Instead he provides a thick, fat backbone to the songs and often works within a Geezer template, adding a huge, doomy rumble to the guitars and interesting little fills. His raspy singing is quite good and though he borrows some vocal inflections from Hetfield, he does his own thing and showcases some real versatility on tracks like “Nocturnus.”
Joining Jason are guitarists Mike Mushok (Staind) and Jessie Farnsworth and since the music doesn’t require them to unleash endless runs of speedy fret-board gymastics, they lay down simple and often groovy riffs that lock in well with the bass. Solo-wise they get to shine more and layer in a lot of interesting moments and a few really choice leads. The drumming of Jesus Mendez Jr. is tight and powerful and on several songs, he and Jason steal the show for the backline without being showy or flamboyant about it.
With a simple, unpretentious and refreshing approach loaded with sincere, honest musicianship, Heavy Metal Music shits all over everything Metallica has done since 1991. It gets better with every spin and has a dirty, working class, blue-collar charm like olden days Motorhead with a modern-day sheen. It’s nice to hear Jason back in the game and doing it his way and the results speak for themselves.