By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
Album: Heavy Metal Music
Release Date: 8/6/13
When historians look back to rock and roll, they’ll probably refer to the Beatles as a defining act. Just as well, when they look back to heavy metal, the band they will probably look to would be Metallica. That’s quite a prestigious position, especially when confronted by former members of said acts. However, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted has over and over again made a name for himself, crossing music boundaries far beyond his former band.
Newsted has now spent almost as much time away from Metallica as he did performing with the thrash icons. Following original bassist Cliff Burton’s death in 1988, he left his band, Flotsam and Jetsam, to come to the aide of the rising stars, forever going down as metal’s unsung hero. His tenure consisted of the band’s most successful period, as they entered multi-platinum worldwide acclaim. However, he left the band at their peak, never to return.
Since leaving Metallica, Newsted has performed with more alternative acts like Echobrain and Voivod and replaced current Metallica bassist Robert Trujilo in Ozzy Osbourne’s live band. Finally, as of earlier this year, Newsted has announced his return to straight-forward heavy metal with the formation of his new band, simply called Newsted.
Consisting of Newsted on lead vocals and bass, drummer Jesus Mendez Jr., guitarist Jessie Farnsworth and Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, Newsted have released their full-length debut, Heavy Metal Music, via Chophouse Records. The album is a gritty and smashing metal record from start to finish, with no light or filler tracks. From the get-go, the Motorhead-meets-Black Sabbath riffage reveals its twisted face with the opening track “Heroic Dose,” a heavy yet very melodic powerhouse. From there, it kicks into the banging single “Soldierhead” and continues right into the powerful and groovy “…As the Crow Flies.” A shredding guitar solo highlights the next track, “Ampossible,” while “Long Time Dead” “Above All” and “King of the Underdogs” throwback to classic heavy metal sprinkled with modern sounds as well.
The album then takes a quick detour into doom metal, the Crowbar-like “Nocturnus” and “Twisted Tale of the Comet” creep along with dark imagery and sludging riffs. “Kindevullsion” sounds like a riff Randy Rhodes would have written if he were taking a brief stint in Pantera, and finally, the closing track, “Futureality” leaves the listen with a final punch to the gut and kick to the teeth.
The musicianship on Heavy Metal Music is extremely impressive. It’s obviously Newsted has taken bass lessons from the book of Lemmy, but he takes it to over levels, especially in tracks like “Soldierhead” and “…As the Crow Flies.” The band allows Newsted to explore musical paths within the spectrum of metal that his former bands would not take. In all honestly, Newsted embodies the sound Metallica should have undertaken two decades ago, but do not have the balls to.
With hints of nearly all styles and sub-genres of metal strung throughout, Heavy Metal Music really makes for an appealing listen to nearly all of the picky metalheads out there. Key tracks include “…As the Crow Flies,” “King of the Underdogs,” “Twisted Tale of the Comet” and “Futureality.” It’s a good record for releasing aggression, and a reminder of metal’s importance although the genre as a whole often gets stale; Newsted and Heavy Metal Music are a breath of life.