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Heavy Metal Music - 75%

Spatupon, November 19th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Chophouse Records (Digipak)

Jason Newsted probably ranks amongst the most known metal musicians around the entire world. Having served bass duties for Voivod, Flotsam, and Jetsam, and Metallica, amongst others, for a considerable amount of time, always managing to deliver some pretty groovy bass-lines with which to headbang. To be honest, however, before coming across this album, I had completely forgotten all about Jason Newsted. I and a co-worker of mine were talking about Metallica, and when he noticed that I too, really liked Newsted's work in the thrash metal sub-genre, he told me about his solo-work and said that it was a great slab of groove thrash-inspired heavy metal.

The album is aptly named "Heavy Metal Music", which perfectly describes what sort of music is on this album. This album is pretty beefed up and has a total of eleven songs. Although not all eleven songs exert the same impact on the listener, I believe that each song serves a purpose in the over-arching theme album, and there's basically no filler content. The songs are mostly mid-paced, riff-centric and extremely groovy and melodic. The music on here reminds me a lot of mid-era Metallica, however, the music on here is actually written in a very interesting way, and doesn't get boring, like for example on "Load" and "Reload". Most of the songs, follow the same structure, and it's quite easy to get into the whole mood of the album. Each song builds up slowly, carefully stitching riffs and bass lines together while being supported by a basic, but punchy drum-patterns, to then rise to a triumphant climax exemplified by really creative solo work. The bass work on this full-length is god-like, and the production is even better. The bass has a very bouncy vibe, and many a time, it develops into its own, authentic self, rather than following what the guitars are doing.

The drums, just like I've already mentioned, are generally pretty basic and mid-paced. However, the drummer does take care of playing some interesting drum-fills here and there. Newsted's vocals are as heavy and gritty as ever on "Heavy Metal Music" and the delivery is stupendous. Newsted relies on a very throaty, raspy "scream". The lyrics are understandable, and they are structured to fit Newsted's delivery, perfectly. By now, it might seem as if this album is an almost completely perfect work of uncompromising heavy metal. However, unfortunately, that's not the case. Even though I really dig the whole groove of the album, the constant, never-changing pace can get very tiring after a while, and since this type of sub-genre is not my favorite one out there, it got pretty tedious to sit-through it all after the half a minute mark. However, certain latter songs like "King of the Underdogs" make this trudging album pretty worth the listen.

I suggest anyone who's into groovy, rock n' roll-inspired, unfiltered heavy metal, to give "Heavy Metal Music" a listen because you won't be disappointed. This album proves that Newsted doesn't need any big metal names behind him, to make a name for himself. "Heavy Metal Music" proves to everyone, that Newsted is a master songwriter and producer, who doesn't give two shits about what anyone else thinks about him.

Listen to Heavy Metal Music - 84%

Felix 1666, July 12th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Chophouse Records (Digipak)

The quintessence of heavy metal cannot be defined. Unlike the recipe of Coca Cola, its formula does not need to be kept in a strictly guarded safe. It is accessible to the public, but its decryption seems to be impossible. Of course, a lot of bands released fantastic albums. Better still, a few groups have created perfect works. But this does not mean that they really uncovered the mystery of heavy metal sustainably. In the majority of these cases, it was just a stroke of luck. Unfortunately, already the successors of these masterpieces proved this thesis. The definitely unbeatable heavy metal album has yet to be written.

But let me go back to the basics. In general, heavy metal pieces must have a dark tendency. Of course, some more or less sunny tunes also do not lack of metallic guitars. But as soon as darkness descends, the time of real heavy metal begins. Jason Newsted and his comrades do not hesitate to create a sombre mood. They keep an eye on an almost omnipresent uneasiness. The unexpressed message of their songs is that you have entered an area without warming sunbeams. Although the songs cover a relatively broad spectrum, they shape an homogeneous atmospheric overall picture. The reason for this is that the riffs were evidently born from the same womb. Despite the stylistic variation, all of them can be characterised as unerring, slightly pessimistic and, of course, heavy. Yet this situation does not indicate a lack of diversity. It is a matter of fact that this album never gets boring, because Newsted - the group as well as Jason himself - is full of energy. And it goes without saying that a high degree of energy belongs to the main ingredients of the heavy metal formula, at least as far as we know it.

Due to the powerful appearance of the band, the songs are lively and spirited. It is not a question of velocity. A lot of mid-tempo tunes roll over you and they are as dynamic as the fast-paced pieces. The uncompromising group succeeds in never losing sight of the goal. All songs seem to be based on a master plan and the band implements each and every part of the plan with a maximum of precision and intransigence. Jason is not an egomaniac who needs just some henchmen that give him the possibility to live out his personal preferences. "Heavy Metal Music" is definitely not a narcissistic self-fulfilment trip. The songs themselves are at the core of the album. This is no matter of course. We all know the Malmsteens of this world. No doubt, they deserve to be worshipped as great guitarists. There is just a little problem. Their song-writing sucks. Despite their brilliant musicianship, they are just technocrats with instruments. The songs of Newsted are no playground for escapades. Not only this: with a playtime of four minutes and longer, they fulfil another criteria of the nature of heavy metal. Unlike the short eruptions that dominate the punk genre, heavy metal songs (mostly) provide sufficient room for development. Newsted takes advantage of this situation while constructing steadily growing guitar lines. They unfold in terms of intensity, drama and atmospheric depth. The production sets the right frame. Jason has produced the album and he did this job in an admirable manner. Everything is perfectly balanced and the music sounds vigorous and pleasantly unadjusted. The production´s high degree of pressure influences the overall result in a very positive way.

Integrity is another key factor for every heavy metal band and its products. Despite or even because of the material wealth of its main protagonist, Newsted (the band) takes good care of its authenticity. Sugary tones that struggle for the recognition of a mainstream audience fell victim to the internal censorship. Newsted reveals the right attitude while presenting exclusively songs that possess the necessary amount of harshness. Its level of heaviness can be well compared with the third album of Grip Inc. called "Solidify". This means, inter alia, that thrash metal plays a certain role. The highly intense and overwhelming "Soldierhead" or the almost equally outstanding "Long Time Dead" have to be mentioned in this context. But, of course, the focus is put on genuine, mature and powerful heavy metal. Highlights like the opener "Heroic Dose", "...as the Crow Flies" or "Above All", whose subliminal force grows with each run, have one thing in common. Wimps will hate them.

Maybe you are of the opinion that the real essence of heavy metal requires more ingredients like mightiness, strong (anti-war) lyrics or a good balance between melodies and harshness. You are right. So what? I promise that you will find all these features in abundance on the here presented album which combines modernity and tradition in a striking manner. With a lot of mind-blowing tracks and some supplementary pieces that mostly reach a good level, this album raises the desire to listen to heavy metal music. The quintessence of this genre is decoded. Almost.

Yup, It's Heavy Metal Music. Now What? - 84%

Metal_Jaw, December 19th, 2013

Eye-rolling album title aside, it's genuinely nice to see Jason Newsted doing his own thing finally. After getting buried deep in the ranks of Metallica (and showing what a far more aggressive and charismatic frontman he is than James Hetfield), wasting time with Ozzy and toiling away with Voivod, he's finally down his own path. His "Newsted" group is a viable, vital, if not especially original but very interesting all the same stab into the world of no-frills, no bullshit traditional heavy metal. The strong but somewhat inconsistent and occasionally dragging "Heavy Metal Music" is a crushing tribute to all those who made heavy metal what is today, including Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and even Motorhead, albeit with strong modern influences.

Easily the star of the show is Mr. Newsted himself; he fronts as well as performs bass duties. His bass, so often buried is many past endeavors, is very much up close and personal here, providing the quasi-downtuned music with a fat thick, even punishing sound. His voice (a sort of Chuck Billy meets Lemmy bellow), while not especially versatile or even varied throughout the album's duration, nonetheless is a testament to the world of metal and a show of this guy's enthusiastic love for the genre. Everyone else, more or less, is just along for the ride. Mike Mushok (currently also of post-grunge group Staind) is solid enough on leads, though never really does much to really, really make himself stand out. Jessie Farnsworth's rhythm lines are even more "just there", often dominated by the leads and bass. Jesus Mendez Jr rounds the venture out on drums; he mostly just goes through the motions but does show now and again a sense for more enthusiastic aggression and energy.

Much of the music on this album rarely goes above mid-pace, making for something of an issue with me personally. As such, I feel the songs run together a bit, and sometimes go on a bit long as well. Some tracks are just plain boring or weak, like the sluggish "Kindevillusion", which only manages to keep it's head above the water thanks to attitude. The Sabbathy 'Ampossible" and modern rock-tinged "Above All" fare a bit better, but don't leave much of an imprint. But when it comes to stronger Sabbath worship, the titanic doom of "Nocturnus" might be your cup of tea. Then we have more dynamic and chaotically interesting tracks such as "Twisted Tail of the Comet" and the fantastic "...As The Crow Flies". Speed junkies aren't forgotten after all, as we are also given the thrashy Motorhead-meets-Testament vibes of the charging "Soldierhead" and the tribute to old school Bay Area thrash "Long Time Dead". Other very solid cuts include the booming grooves and the catchy stock main riff of opener "Heroic Dose" and the slow, tense "King of the Underdogs" with it's bluesy NWOBHM verses.

Overall, "Heavy Metal Music" is...well...just that. Nothing more, nothing less. While some of what we hear is stuff we have all heard before, it's all presented with chipper enthusiasm, particularly Jason Newsted himself. Also some of the tracks are just so interesting and intriguing that many of them should be heard and appreciated, if not just once. Safe to say, in hands like this, heavy metal music is still in good good shape.

I Shy Away From Surface Freaks - 75%

Twisted_Psychology, August 21st, 2013

Even though bassist Jason Newsted was Metallica’s butt monkey for the better part of fourteen years, Cliff Burton may be the only member in its history with a more favorable reputation. In addition to not having contributed much to Metallica’s commercial period, he also proved his chops through his stint in Voivod among other projects. Now with the recruitment of Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, Newsted is back with a full-length debut that builds from the Metal EP and lives up to its incredibly bone-headed title.

To answer everyone’s questions right off the bat, this doesn’t sound all that much like Metallia. Newsted’s vocals do have their Hetfieldisms and the music has traits of …And Justice For All and the Loads if you squint a little, but the songwriting and instrumental performances are much more basic in comparison. Albums like Megadeth’s Youthanasia and the last few by Testament make for more accurate comparisons though Motorhead is definitely the leading influence if the gruff vocals and distorted bass are anything to go by.

And when you take Newsted’s extreme meat and potatoes goal in mind, it is rather interesting to see how diverse this effort can be. While it’s presented under a groovy traditional metal umbrella, each side seems to have a certain style to it. Just as tracks like the opening “Heroic Dose” and “Soldierhead” guarantee an upbeat first half, the second half has a doomier direction as “Nocturnus” and “Kindevillusion” offer slower tempos and “Twisted Tail Of The Comet” has a strong stoner groove. There are also a few melodic moments as seen on “Above All” and “King Of The Underdogs.”

But with the variety taken into consideration, Heavy Metal Music isn’t as dynamic as it could’ve been. Newsted’s voice is stronger than expected but his limited range runs the risk of sounding monotonous at times. A few songs do make one wonder how they would’ve turned out with someone like Chuck Billy on the mic and a more skilled backing band in tow, but the overall package is still more competent.

Overall, Newsted’s Heavy Metal Music lives up to its name by serving as your “typical” metal release. The variety offers a lot of promise and the performances allow for consistency, but there is also room to develop from here. It’d be great to see Newsted experiment with their style and try some different vocal techniques, but I may be just as happy with a more creative title. Sometimes that extra effort can make a world of difference.

Current Highlights:
“Heroic Dose”
“Soldierhead”
“Above All”
“Twisted Tail Of The Comet”
“Kindevillusion”

Originally published at http://psychicshorts.blogspot.com

Heavy Metal Review With Some Cussing - 70%

autothrall, August 7th, 2013

Because titling his previous EP Metal just wasn't enough, ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted confirms his faux-poignant, post midlife-crisis with Heavy Metal Music, the first full-length from his eponymous new career revival. I admit, the title is irritating as shit. I realize it's suppose to be this life-affirming, back-to-basics, obvious pronouncement, but really this has been done dozens of times before, and if you're not fucking doing this in the 80s, or your name is not Metalucifer, it just doesn't feel effective. Black Metal was cool in 1982, because it hinted at some dark and unknown possibilities. Heavy Metal Breakdown? Acceptable for when it was released. But Heavy Metal Music in 2013? Or that last, sorry 3 Inches of Blood record Long Live Heavy Metal? Enough already! We get it, Jason Newsted hasn't gone disco on us. This isn't Calypso Music. Thanks for making that distinction, now if you're through with the clever twaddle, how about writing some proper good songs? You were on ...And Justice for All and Voivod, for fuck's sake!

Now, one can probably deduce that I wasn't the biggest proponent for the Metal EP, which was forgotten about as quickly as it was listened to, but that's not to say I wasn't satisfied to hear Jason Newsted continue what he's good at. So often do these ex-members of leviathan rock acts peter off into a succession of silly, no-one-gives-a-damn solo outlets or collaborations with other sideliners, and despite his positive presence in Voivod (who have admittedly been writing better music than his alma mater Metallica since 1987), Jason Newsted hadn't really made much of a name for himself. I think with Heavy Metal Music this is likely to change, and Jasonic is likely to cultivate some hard-fought respect, because despite all odds, this is actually a solid, pumping set of tunes, a reconciliation for the lame duck title which is fully cognizant of Newsted's own history with the genre. Okay, there's not a lot of Flotsam & Jetsam influence here, but the best way to describe the tunes would be as the natural offspring of The Black Album and Voivod. Bangin', simple riffs supported by muscular bass lines, a mashup of traditional heavy metal and 80s thrash with a penchant for mammoth groove hooks redolent of Metallica's 'dumbing down' through the 90s.

Riffs this fat taste like a barely digested steak straining all of your bodily functions, but they'd only get the record so far if the vocals didn't also lend some character, and would you fuckin' know it, Jason sounds like a mix of James Hetfield and Alice Cooper, with a few hints of Snake's angrier inflections! He's a little monotonous, sure, and his lines are often hard to distinguish between various verses and songs, but he certainly earns the position; the marriage of stripped down riffs, bluesy Black Album leads and angry-assed vocals make this an excellent record for idealized bar room brawling in some backwater, while the grooves cultivate just enough of a stoner edge that fans of Black Label Society and Down might dig it, or anyone lamenting the fact that Corrosion of Conformity have partly ditched the stoner schtick to return to their (admittedly superior) hardcore roots. Another album I kept mentally referencing through this was Testament's very underrated 1992 effort The Ritual, which thrived off a similar sense of regression to the base principles of its genre, and wound up my favorite in their entire catalog. Heavy Metal Music makes damn sure that it's as uncomplicated as possible, relying on the layman hooks and vitriol-spun vocals to soak themselves into the Neanderthal shards of the brain. Want technical riffing? Extreme metal drumming? Seek them elsewhere.

Now, granted, there are a few middling tracks here (like the handful drafted over from the EP), and more than a few riffs that pass in one ear and straight out the other, but on the whole there's no question that Newsted rocks more often than it doesn't. Surprisingly, this is not album that relies on guest celebrities to promote itself, but sticks very closely to its knuckle-dusting, whiskey-drowned personality. Mike Mushok is an exception, having joined the project after the Metal EP, but anyone familiar with Staind, one of those deplorable heavy rock acts my state shat forth in the 90s alongside Godsmack, the gift that keeps on giving (I apologize on behalf of all Massholes), will be relieved that he cocks absolutely nothing up here, but lays into the big rhythms with enthusiasm and fits seamlessly into the Newsted master plan. Jason's bass lines, while thick as sin, are also unexpected in that they don't seem to 'take over' the compositions, something they came dangerously close to doing on Voivod. As for the drums, they're versatile and well performed, but as I mentioned earlier, this is not the province of much extremity or experimentation. Standard rock beats and fills, but Mendez hits hard and nothing else really would have worked on these tunes.

Heavy Metal Music does live up to its name in that its a celebration of the form, cross-pollinating riffing schematics from 70s metal (Sabbath, Priest, Purple) to 80s hard hair rock (Crue, Ratt), NWOBHM and just that hint of something thrashier (Metallica, Metal Church). So as much as I dislike the title, I gladly chew my own foot this time; but don't be misled into thinking that this is necessarily 'amazing', or by any mean's a year's end contender. It's got problems: the vocals need more range. The leads are a little banal. It wouldn't kill the writing if the rhythm guitar riffs were a hint busier, or the bass lines more interesting. 2-3 of the weaker tunes could be slashed ("King of the Underdogs" and "Soldierhead", at least). But at the end of the day, Heavy Metal Music is fairly fun to listen through, especially for the long-term metal aficionado whose tastes bleed across numerous sub-genre borders, and it at least shows some effort in defining this band's trajectory for the future. If I had to compare it to Death Magnetic, I might give the latter a slight edge, but sure as shit this is better than fuckin' Lulu. I just hope the next one's not called Angry Music or Rock Music or Heavy Metal Hornblowers or Captain Fucking Obvious.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com