“Hellyeah” by Hellyeah

Artist: Hellyeah
Title: “Hellyeah”
Label: Epic Records
Release Date: 4/10/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 3.5/5

The basic premise behind Hellyeah started in 2002 with singer Chad Gray (Mudvayne) and guitarist Tom Maxwell (Nothingface) but based on the schedules of their respective bands it did not actually become the group you are listening to on this CD until around 2006. Since the dawning of the idea to its actual inception and recording we have seen guitarists Greg Tribbett (also from Mudvayne) and bassist Jerry Montano joining forces on it along with powerhouse drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Damageplan, & Rebel Meets Rebel). Now while some might define such a lineup as a “super group”, I am one of those who tend to hate the term and will instead label this as a super powered side project. After all, it is not like the members are leaving their groups of note to do this alone. What I found interesting about it immediately was that the listener can realize from the very first track that the music being done as Hellyeah is vastly different from that of their original groups. It’s heavy stuff without a doubt and surely aims for a particular listener demographic, but it is hardly the technical based “Groove Metal” material we found in Mudvayne or the overall brutality of a band like Pantera and Damageplan. Instead the self titled debut is a hodgepodge of different styles and at the end of the day it comes off as a quasi Metal meets Southern Fried Hard Rock outfit. Bands like this have been growing in popularity over the past few years so it could work out quite well. Based on this the listener will find that there are equal parts good and bad material on the release. The good is just simply good and not great, or fantastic and the bad will generally make you not sit through the track ever again. This might sound a bit harsh but I have to admit that I expected just a little bit more from it based on the membership roster. Lyrically this could have been stronger than it ended up being and I was disappointed to find this being the case. Gray is a solid song writer for Mudvayne, but it seems as though for Hellyeah this was more about stepping out of the known role and having a little more of a “let it all loose” fun with friends playing Metal. Those who wanted a sense of deep lyrical content could very well find some of this stuff rather banal and too laden with expletives.

One of the strongest tunes comes by the way of “You Wouldn’t Know” and I felt this was a driving number all around but I hate to say that I didn’t really catch where the lyrics were taking me on it. “Hellyeah” is the bands anthem of a title track and it seemed clearly aimed at those alcohol soaked, moshpit dwelling leaf smokers who make up the craziest faction of any Metal show that memory calls to mind. You know you’ve seen them and you might actually even be one of them, but either way they are those hard core fans who are extreme all around and often make the more conventional Metal head run for some cover. I thought “Alcohaulin’ Ass” was a rather stupid title but a reasonably enjoyable tune after giving it a couple of spins and the clear winner on the whole CD comes by the way of “Thank You”. This is the albums highlight and it’s a mixture of heavy tune and emotional power ballad with a largely positive message. At the end of the day the band seems to serve the needs of a unique segment in the Metal following and that’s a good thing. It was also interesting to find these players doing something more along the lines of conventional Metal than their main projects and perhaps the best of them all was finding Vinnie Paul behind the drums once again. I dare say that it couldn’t have been easy for the musician to choose to do this or even think about it after the tragic incident with his brother Dime. The playing seems loose and yet tight at the same time and comes off as more relaxed as the dudes convene together to have some fun playing music. Fans of their main bands might take to this but it is more geared at those who enjoy the likes of Black Label Society, Alabama Thunderpussy and maybe even a little Brand New Sin for good measure.

The band also released a DVD that featured mostly “outtakes” type of footage and a couple of live tracks. It will be interesting to see if they follow this album up with another and if they continue on to take this band to the next possible level. Lyrics and some photos are included in the foldout booklet inside.

Track Listing:
1. Hellyeah
2. You Wouldn’t Know
3. Matter Of Time
4. Waging War
5. Alcohaulin’Ass
6. GodDamn
7. In The Mood
8. Star
9. Rotten To The Core
10. Thank You
11. Nausea
12. One Thing

Official Web site: www.hellyeah.com

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