Enough has been reported about the sad circumstances that surround the building of this album in regards to the passing of drummer Vinnie Paul, so with that out of the way nice and early, lets get down to the nuts and bolts.
Hellyeah were an interesting prospect from their inception given the sum of their parts, but failed to hit their stride until they began to drop the metal/cowboy shtick on third album Band Of Brothers and rid themselves of it completely on Blood For Blood and Unden!able, not the best title but a suitable pointer to their new found positive (if a little bit tough guy) lyrical approach and heavier musical prescence. This combination made early doubters sit up and have another look into the band. Some liked it, others didn’t. With all members already coming from ‘like them or lump them’ type bands, I am sure the barbs didn’t cut too deep.
Starting off with one of their most powerful numbers yet, ‘333’ winds the clock back to a mid-90’s thrasher wrung through a groove lens, showing off just how tight a drummer Vinnie Paul could be. The heavy signature groove continues through ‘Oh My God’ with a great chorus line using stop/start dynamics to drive the musical point in further.
On ‘Welcome Home’ the band change gear with a cleaner tone and semi-balladesque tempo that slowly peaks and then draws back, showing how far vocalist Chad Gray has come, going from clean to menacing rasp and back effortlessly.
Hellyeah then takes their first stumble. ‘I’m The One’ has a pop rock bounce that doesn’t fit the mood, a fact driven home when it is followed up with metal bro hymn ‘Black Flag Army’. Sure the track feels a bit naff, but on the previous couple of albums this is just the kind of unity and positivity the band has been reaching out for. Too let the younger metal fans know that this music, our music if you will, is a movement and a safe place for all comers.
The album suffer a mid paced sag from here, until ‘Bury You’ comes in with a similar rage that opened it, again leaning heavy on the influence of Vinnie Paul’s most famous musical output and feeling the better for the pick-me-up. Perhaps musically at least, the album would have been best to stay here. With ‘Boy’, Hellyeah take an unnecessary sharp turn into 1999 nu-metal territory. The less said, the better. ‘Skyy And Water’ is a heartfelt ballad written by a band that really should let their aggression speak for them. It’s understandable to want something nice to send their mate off with, but a ballad simply doesn’t feel suitable.
‘Irreplaceable’ is the perfect way to bring this chapter to a close, a momentof silence before Vinnie Paul gives away one more piece of sage advice, audio lifted from a selfie video he was taking. Having been fortunate to meet and hang out with him more than once, and hearing him impart wisdom once more moved me a bit. It’s just what the band wanted, to just show what a great human he could be.
Welcome Home is far from, perfect, but it is a solid effort constructed under very trying circumstances. So lift your favourite drink high in the air and head bang one more time as hard as you can.
- Oh My God
- Welcome Home
- I’m the One
- Black Flag Army
- At Wick’s End
- Bury You
- Skyy and Water