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The intense hype around the formation and the release of Hellyeah's self-titled album was something else. I usually try to ignore hype for bands but even they had me excited. I enjoy some Mudvayne and Nothingface. Anything with Vinnie Paul will automatically get my attention.
As it turns out Hellyeah wasn't what I expected. Its fun but its about as deep as a child's wading pool. I was expecting something along the lines of Damageplan (which I didn't think was all that bad) but I was wrong. Hellyeah is full of heavy grooves and down tuned guitars along with massive amounts of simplistic lyrics. There is also the occasional "ballad" gracing the album for variety's sake but not much is really worth mentioning.
The guitar work is fine if you like that nu-metal inspired riffing fitted with down-tuned strings and occasional leads. I prefer my metal with lots of fret work and clean technicality. Neither of that is really present on the album. The guitar rhythms are pretty simple (sometimes catchy, sometimes not). What technical fretwork that is there is mostly lost in the grind of the guitar tone. There did happen to be a couple of solos that caught me off guard - but nothing all that impressive in the long run. It's nice to see them incorporate solos. I'd love to hear Mudvayne do a few of those in their music.
The bass work is a very prominent force on the album. Being very groove oriented in nature, the music is prime breeding waters for tasty bass work. Those do make an appearance here and there but really it feels as though the bass is just there - there isn't a lot of "character" to the bass.
The drumming is by far the best part of the album. If anything this album can stand as testament that Vinnie Paul can still play the skins like a madman. There are some very interesting parts in his drumming and some good and unique patterns present. He has good tech work along with good variety and doesn't need double basses all the time to keep up the speed of the album.
The vocal work by Chad Gray is pretty two sided. Screaming or baritone singing. He doesn't really push either side (and I'm tempted to say that his work with Mudvayne is FAR superior). His voice, although unique, doesn't really fit the music as I thought it would. He gives the band sort of a punk outlook rather than a fun metal side. The many layers his vocals take up is rather ridiculous too. It seems like the layered his voice to the point of absurdity rather than going with the more fitting "raw" feel that this album could have had.
Lyrically, this album is down right silly. There are a couple of interesting reflective tracks (Thank You sticks out) but overall the childish use of cursing and "lets kick ass and have a beer" mentality really dive this album down. I'm all for having fun music and I'm sure this album is great to have on during a party but if one is looking for music with any sort of depth - look elsewhere.
I suppose if this is the music the band was shooting for then they nailed it on the head. Great party music to have on in the background while one gets hammered. For me though, I'll stick with music that's a bit more complicated and diverse.
Songs to check out: Hellyeah, Matter of Time, One Thing.