Written by Mass
- Welcome Home
- Groove Metal/Heavy Metal/Nu-metal/Alternative Metal/Southern Metal
- September 27th, 2019
Fuck complicity, conformity, I don’t lay down, I battle
It was back in 2012 or so that the American super-band HELLYEAH (consisting of such members as Vinnie Paul of Pantera and Damageplan, Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett of Mudvayne and Tom Maxwell of Nothingface) came into my attention with Band of Brothers. Way before that, they had released Alcohaulin’ Ass, a southern-rock-sounding track, which I had heard on some occasions. But it was Blood for Blood (2014) that established them as a groove metal act I would call qualified. Their 2016’s Undeniable, being not on par with its antecedent, tossed the band back to normalcy again, only having a few highlights here and there. But with the founding member Vinnie Paul’s untimely demise in June 2018, the band has had so much to prove whether they are able to pick up where they left off or they are just another run-of-the-meal metal band with a couple of commendable songs and quite a handful of fillers per album.
The single tracks which were aired prior to the release of the album actually got me hyped. The four tracks were 333, Welcome Home, Oh My God and Black Flag Army; and they are all good. They had kept their southern roots in their melodies and their aggressive groove style was also present. So with a positive outlook, I took the album and gave it a few spins. But the more I listened to it, the more I got disappointed in what they had done, as the only highlights of the album were three of those four singles and one more – four out of eleven is not exactly a success to me.
The album kicks off on a strong foot. 333 is a massive heavy-metal-bordering-thrash-metal song on which Chad Gray’s aggressive singing style and the headbangable guitar riff create a stirring mood. Following is Oh My God, a more-titled-toward-alternative-metal kind of track and then it leads to the title track. My pick on this album is surely this one as it presents a complete package of high-quality music: clean and scream vocals, forceful and slow guitar passages, melodic singing and guitars, well-worked-out lyrics and even orchestration. In a word, this song is mature and well-cooked.
Then come the mediocre punkish I’m the One, followed by another remarkable track Black Flag Army. This track has a tinge of progression and an overall hue of motivational, rise-up spirit, albeit in an alternative metal style. And then album dies. At Wick’s End is an ordinary alternative song, like of which is made in abundance every day; it is here that the repetitive riff kills the music and Gray’s vocals hit the rock bottom. Perfect is a reminder of their inclination toward southern metal; Bury You is maybe the weakest song on this mediocre album and Boy is a nu-metal act for which I actually do not care in the least bit.
Just when we have given up hope, comes in Skyy and Water. I can’t help but associate this smooth, emotionally suffused feat with Vinnie Paul. This is the only track (apart from the ending track – a recording of Vinnie’s words) which does not feature drumming of any sort and the only one written after their bandmate’s death. All the drumming lines were created by this iconic and beloved drummer and the band decided to keep it that way. Then comes Irreplaceable in the form of secret tracks of the old days and gives us less than 20 seconds of Vinnie’s voice talking about good times, and in the meantime, the title is a direct tribute to him and a nod to his role and his personality: “irreplaceable” indeed.
On the lyrics side, the band has put to front somewhat an understanding of words and sounds and how to put them adjacent to music; however, so frequently they have faltered and fallen into pits of gangster style writing and tarnished the otherwise impressive image. What they have achieved on Welcome Home and Skyy and Water is despoiled by their blunders on I’m the One for instance. Add to this a miscalculation on the side of the songwriter(s): having too many chorus repetitions which can bore the listener to the point of insanity. The subject matters they have addressed are, as was predictable, mainly the issues of having a hard life, being cheated, being a badass, and so on. But one thing which is worth mentioning is in fact that the sense of loss, mainly in the title track and of course in their penultimate tribute track, is indicative of their subtleness under this thick coarse layer of toughness.
On the whole, this album is varied in style, from hard rock to groove to heavy metal to alternative, southern or nu metal. It could be a peak in the band’s long years of activity, but it seems that the band had opted for reckless experimentation with their music instead of creating a more focused and profound sound. This decision has led to an average album, that is of course considering the names in this super-group. Whatever it is, more than anything else, it is the final voice of Vinnie Paul and at the same time a homage to this esteemed name.
Highlights: Welcome Home – Black Flag – 333 – Sky and Water
- Lyrics: 7.5
- Artwork: 5.5
- Musicianship: 7.5
- Vocals: 7.5
- Overall: 7.0