Friday, August 16, 2013

Newsted Moves To Heavy Metal Music

Jason Newsted is having the time of his life. After releasing the critically acclaimed debut EP Metal, the former Metallica bassist has been making metal the way he wants. The full-length album, Heavy Metal Music, stays true to his love for crunching guitar riffs, high gain percussion, and meditative vocals.

The heaviness on the completed album often dusts off a familiar vintage sound, deeply satisfying in its influence from bands like Kreator or even early Megadeath, who Newsted has been touring with now. The album, along with live performances, has put to rest any doubt that Newsted can deliver vocals.

Even with some tracks being recast (now with guitarist Mike Mushok on board) from Metal, the 12 dense and anthemic tracks chug along with purposeful contemplation. If there are any surprises, it's that Newsted rages on some tracks while taking a more omnipotent storyteller approach on others.

Heavy Metal Music is exactly that. Heavy. Metal. Music. 

Some people frame up much of the album as old fashioned, but the better descriptor is meat and potatoes. If you peeled back all the layers of progression and sub-genres that metal became over the course of five decades, this is the sound that is left.

There is a dark, deep and doom-driven base that can be menacing in its iron-like hardness. Newsted also weaves in techniques from trash metal and progressive but most people will hear a special effort by Newsted in looking to the roots of metal as his muse.

Even the breakout single, Above All, conveys that point. The lyrical video released by Newsted is a warning against darker days brought about by unfriendly and oppressive systems. The song is about someone who begins to break out from the muck with independent thought.

The message doesn't crescendo as a call to action, but rather rings as an intellectual truth. The track isn't nearly as harsh or angry as Soldierhead, an old school, high-octane ode to servicemen and women. But it is representative of the sure-handed tempo and occasional frantic bursts that give the album character.

King Of The Underdogs was also re-recorded with Mushok. It's about being the best of the worst. Even outcasts identify people among themselves who are worth admiration. Given his contribution to Who Cares, one might even count Newsted among that kind of metal royalty.

As The Crows Flies contains one of Newsted's favorite moments on the album, with its dual guitar lead at the end. During live performances, he said it is one of the few opportunities he can step back for 30 seconds and enjoy what his band does.

Written within the same timeframe as As The Crow Flies, Kindevillusion also has a story behind it. The track is personal to Newsted. Much of the song has to do with seeing the dream before you pursue it. And therein is where Newsted relates. He envisioned his second life and the band that would deliver it.

Overall, the album is an excellent outing that brings metal around full circle. Even lyrically, Newsted makes it clear that his music might have dark undertones but the words he writes down are all together different. His metal celebrates the individual, hero and dreamer over whatever is being sold. It's about time.

Heavy Metal Music By Newsted Bangs 8.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While the EP seemed to promise a heavier and faster outing from Newsted than the album ultimately became, Newsted is clearly bringing back heavy metal like it used to be heard. Good. There is a need for metal to maintain more diversity in its offering. Sub-genres are cool, but never to excess.

You can find Heavy Metal Music by Newsted on Amazon. You can find the vinyl LP at Barnes & Noble or download the album for iTunes. Newsted has been touring hard in the first half of the year. You can keep up with the band's schedule on their Facebook page.
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