Remember "supergroups"? Those collections of stars from other famous bands that would come together, pooling their collective talents in a new endeavor; Velvet Revolver to Audioslave, Damn Yankees to Bad English, Hindu Love Gods to The Traveling Wilburys, all the way back to Cream and the Dirty Mac. Here we are faced with something of a supergroup bringing together southern flavored hard rock and nu metal in a concoction that, while fun, is a mixed bag at best. I wasn't sure whether this project was meant to be taken seriously, after listening to it I am still not sure, it strikes me as a group of guys that got together with the intention of just put out a fun album of hard rocking tracks.
Hellyeah (or HELLYEAH, I haven't been able to make a determination of which was intended) is comprised of Vinnie Paul from Pantera/Damageplan behind the drumkit, Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett from Mudvayne on vocals and guitar, and Tom Maxwell and Jerry Montano from Nothingface on guitar and bass. Not quite the all-star lineup, but still a solid collection of musicians. Although, the proceedings are clearly dominated by Vinnie Paul and Chad Gray, with Greg Tribbett not far behind.
The music is an odd collision of styles, sounding like Pantera meets Mudvayne. All it is missing is the guitar pyrotechnics of Dimebag Darrell (RIP). It is great to hear Paul back on the sticks, following the tragic murder of his brother (Dimbag) onstage during a Damageplan show a few years ago. It was hard to picture him being able to get back out there. I am glad to say that he sounds as brutal as ever, and is the real highlight of the album.
The self-titled album kicks off with the band and album's namesake in music, "Hellyeah." It is a brutal headbanger of track that is the stage-setter for the rest of the album. It is relentless in its heavy aggression and catchy as all hell in its hook. This is destined to be a great live track. This is followed up by a slightly slower track that is not short on the groove, "You Wouldn't Know." Next is "Matter of Time," a southern fried rocker fused with a nu metal styled vocals.
Hellyeah really has me torn. On one hand, the album is a lot of fun, some good hard rock grooves, some great drumming, and some good vocals. On the other hand, there really isn't anything all that groundbreaking, it could have used some soloing, and while the Pantera meets Mudvayne sound works at some points, others just sound out of place, especially when the pace slows. It is like one of those mash-up experiments gone awry, someone down in the lab thought it was a good idea, but when they put it all together the result was something of a Frankenstein monster. It is a little Jeckyll and Hyde, as the two chosen flavors would blend in a near perfect union at some junctures, while wildly diverging at others.
While not always in perfect union, Vinnie Paul and Chad Gray are the anchors of the album. Vinnie's drumming is thundering, precise, varied, and sounds incredible. Likewise, Chad Gray's singing is strong throughout, and even better than the last time I listened to Mudvayne, which has been awhile. It is a weird experience, as they both sound excellent, although not always excellent together.
In the end, this is a strong heavy hard rock album that with a little better cohesion could have gone to the next level. I would be remiss if I didn't say something about the band name. I have a response to it: "What?" It is one of the weakest names for a band I have encountered yet, as a song title, and even an album title it works, but a band name? Not so good.
Bottomline. This one falls squarely in the middle. It is a good album to put in, crank up, and rock to, but if you are looking for something a little deeper, a little more experimental or edgy, you would be best served to look elsewhere. If you are a fan of Paul or Gray, definitely seek this out, but keep your expectations in check. Let this one wash over you without thinking too hard about it.Powered by Sidelines