Newsted – Heavy Metal Music

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Review by Jason Guest

Release Date: 6 August 2013

We all know who Jason Newsted is. He’s the guy that committed the most original of sins: he quit Metallica. 2013 and Jason Newsted’s back making music. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, this time, rather than being the guy that joins the band, this time it’s under his own name and by his own rules. With music from what was then a three-piece, if you heard the four-track Metal EP released in January this year, then you pretty much know what you’re going to get with his début full-length.

Generally, the tracks are mid-tempo stomping metal tracks built around simple riffs, simple rhythms, and simple structures. There are plenty of hooks, loads of sing-along melodies, many a catchy chorus, and an abundance of steady beats to bang your head to, but it’s not an album that will break any necks. Though ‘King of the Underdogs’ and ‘Twisted Tale of the Comet’ shift the tempo up and ‘Nocturnus’ drags it right down, the rest of the album trudges along steadily in a bunch of mid-tempo tracks that provide little in the way of variation. And the lyrics, for the most part following the most basic of rhyme schemes, are the standard stuff about the struggle for control, putting up a fight, rising up and living true to yourself and all that and so a cliché or two rear their ugly head more often than we’d like.

With many a lesson learnt from Bob Rock’s production duties with Metallica, Newsted’s angry bass farts along in the low end, his lines are solid and chunky while his growl’s got a few chunks of Lemmy’s phlegm-coated gravel rolling around in there as well as the odd morsel of Hetfield’s vibrato. The guys he’s surrounded himself with are all adept musicians and work together well. On drums, Jesus Mendez Jr. does a steady job, holding down the rhythms with the occasional flourish. Guitarists Jessie Farnsworth and recent addition Mike Mushok (of Staind) also do a steady job, their riffs simple and straightforward and the leads leaning more towards melody than shred. Together, they do, well, a steady job.

Heavy Metal Music’s not a great début; it’s a good one. Newsted loves his music and there’s not a moment on this album where that’s not glaringly obvious. An album written by a metal fan, in some respects Heavy Metal Music feels like a “safe” album as, besides sticking himself in the firing line, Newsted’s not taking any chances. This is more a homage, a pastiche even, and so there’s an overwhelming familiarity to it, as if we’ve heard it before somewhere, maybe a Motorhead album or two? Sometimes it even sounds like Anvil, bizarrely enough. Maybe with his next one Newsted will be able to prove to us that Metallica failed both themselves and their fans by not exploiting Newsted’s talent.

Newsted – Heavy Metal Music6 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Heroic Dose
  2. Soldierhead
  3. …As The Crow Flies
  4. Ampossible
  5. Long Time Dead
  6. Above All
  7. King Of The Underdogs
  8. Nocturnus
  9. Twisted Tale Of The Comet
  10. Kindevillusion
  11. Futureality