Newsted - Metal (Chophouse Records) 2013
1. Soldierhead (4:16)
Jason Newsted, most known for being the bass player of Metallica and Flotsam & Jestsam, has finally recorded and released his eponymous solo release. "Metal" is a four song EP released on Jason's own Chophouse Records. Originally this EP was released as a digital download album only, then later pre-sold on CD. All pre-sale CDs came autographed and with a signature Newsted bass pick. The four songs included here fall somewhere between Motorhead and Black Label Society. All four songs are immediately catchy, though I found the up-beat opening track to be the best of the bunch. The song opens with some dirty bass guitar that recall the legendary "Lemmy" Kilmister. Jason's vocals are slightly raspy and partially sung, partially barked out with a punk "can't sing/don't care" attitude. "King of the Underdogs" has a heavy groove with a big musical hook. The aforementioned Motorhead / Black Label Society sound is very apparent here. Hopefully this EP is just a taster of more to come. I've long been a fan of Jason, whether it be his work with Voivod or Flotsam & Jestsam. I felt he was buried in Metallica and could have contributed much more than I am sure he was allowed to do.
1. Heroic Dose
3. ...As The Crow Flies
5. Long Time Dead
6. Above All
7. King Of The Underdogs
9. Twisted Tail Of The Comet
Jason Newsted is known to most as the former bass player for Metallica. To me he was the driving force behind one of my favorite early metal releases, "Doomsday for the Deceiver" (Flotsam & Jetsam). It's hard to believe that in 2013 Newsted has been out of Metallica for nearly as long as he was a member of the band. After departing he explored several other musical projects, including a two-album stint with the legendary Voivod. In 2012 Jason announced the formation of Newsted, and they released the ‘Metal’ EP in early 2013. The rumor was that the band was going to release several self-financed EPs rather than a full length album. Apparently the band decided to go with the full length release after scoring a spot on Megadeth's 2013 Gigantour.
The music on "Heavy Metal Music" is exactly as the title implies, straight-forward, traditional heavy metal. Not too surprisingly, Newsted does not follow in the footsteps of any of Jason Newsted's former bands. Rather you'll hear Newsted wearing some of their influences on their sleeves and creating their own sound and identity. Black Sabbath, Motorhead, and Black Label Society are all band's I picked out as possible influences while listening to this CD. This is blue-collar heavy metal with memorable hooks and simple, riff-driven songs. Songs like album opener "Heroic Dose" and "Long Time Dead" are good examples of this. "Soldierhead" makes it's way onto this album from the EP. This song has a heavy Motorhead vibe. Likewise, "King of the Underdogs" made it's way over from the EP as well. This song in particular reminded me of something Black Label Society might have recorded. These were two of the more immediately likable songs off that EP, so it's no wonder why they were chosen. On the late half of the album, both "Nocturnus" and "Twisted Tail of the Comet" bring about a doomy Sabbath vibe.
Jason has never been known as a vocalist. He is mostly known as a bass player and has usually been relegated to the background. As part of his own band he is now the frontman and delivers on all fronts. He knows his voice and uses it well, having a raspy, snarling singing style that is a cross between Lemmy Kilmister and Dave Mustaine. On "Above All" he even reminded me of Alice Cooper when he sang, "your freakin' out, your freakin' out, your freakin' out." He never really stretches out beyond what his can handle and give a highly enjoyable performance. His bass playing is also distinctive and very audible in the mix. It’s nice to hear the rumbling low end turned up and helping to drive the music rather than being buried behind the wall of guitars.
"Heavy Metal Music" exceeded my expectations. I found myself listening to it over and over again in the weeks following it's release. It may not be the greatest heavy metal album ever released nor is Newsted going to get any points for being the most creative new band on the planet. However, those who are only concerned with listening to the music they enjoy, "Heavy Metal Music" is sure to please.