For the vast majority of Jason Newsted’s career in Metallica he was nothing more then James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich’s whipping boy. Not being allowed to really contribute to songwriting in the band and not allowed to express his creativity in outside projects. Then of course there is the way they pretty much completely mixed out his bass lines on the “…And Justice For All” album.
Before getting the Metallica gig after the tragic loss of Cliff Burton, he was a founding member (and primary songwriter) of Flotsam & Jetsam. After leaving Metallica in 2001 he briefly played Bass for Ozzy Osbourne, joined Canadian Progressive Thrash legends Voivod, participated in various musical (both metal and non-metal) side projects and launched an art career.
In late 2012 he announced it was time to bring back the Heavy Metal and launch of his own band, NEWST∃D.
In January of this year the band released their debut EP, titled simply “Metal,” which served as just a little appetizer before the main course. NEWST∃D is Jason Newsted on lead vocals and bass, drummer Jesus Mendez Jr., guitarist Jessie Farnsworth, and added after the release of the debut EP, Staind guitarist Mike Mushok.
The first questions some might ask about “Heavy Metal Music” is; does it sound like Metallica, is the bass turned up ridiculously high in the mix (see Steve Harris solo debut “British Lion”). The answer to both questions is a resounding NO.
While at some very brief period there are parts of the album that harken to Newsted’s time in Metallica, this album doesn’t really sound like that band. Now Newsted’s vocal’s have some similarity to Hetfield’s mannerisms but that’s about it. Also, while it is refreshing to hear Jason’s highly underrated bass work, it definitely does not over power the rest of the music.
“Heavy Metal Music,” is a solid meat and potatoes release, but that does not make it a generic metal-by-numbers album. While its true that overall it does not stray too far from that Hard Rock meets Thrash line, if you listen closely you can hear touches of Motorhead, Prong, Black Sabbath, small touches of ‘Black album’ era Metallica and Voivod. Overall giving the album a very old school metal vibe seasoned with some small doses of stoner rock grooves and doom metal soul.
The opening track “Heroic Dose” and the closing track “Futureality,” both give off the doom-laden biker metal sound that reminds me a lot of Orange Goblin.
“Soldierhead” and “King Of The Underdogs” are the two carry overs from the debut EP and wise choices to include on the full length as well.
“…As The Crow Flies,” due to Jason’s Hetfield-like growling is the most Metallica sounding song on the album (14 years of standing next to a guy on stage, something has got to rub off) and also features some southern-metal sounding guitar jamming towards the end.
“Ampossible” and “Nocturnal both have a Black Sabbath / Cathedral / Candlemass vibe to them. At times the former sounds as if it could have appeared on the latest Black Sabbath Album.
“Long Time Dead” and “Above All” sound like they could have been written by Dave Grohl for the Probot project.
“Twisted Tail of the Comet,” is the most diverse track on the album and the one where Newsted’s time in Voivod comes through the most.
As a vocalist no one is going to call Jason Newsted one of the top in the Heavy metal business, but that is not saying that he can’t sing. He has a raw & gruff growl that you can’t help but be reminded of the great Lemmy Kilmister and if that ain’t a compliment I don’t know what is.
Is “Heavy Metal Music” a legendary metal album? Not by any stretch of the imagination, what it is however is a pretty kick ass, blunt straight up horns in the air meat and potatoes slab of paleo-metal. That’s not a bad thing at all.
Oh and if the term paleo-metal takes off, I am taking full credit for it.