Newsted, ‘Heavy Metal Music’ – Album Review
It may be hard to believe, but Jason Newsted has now been a former member of Metallica almost as long as he was a member of the legendary band. After departing in 2001, he explored other musical projects, including Voivod. He also embarked on an art career while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Last year, he announced the formation of Newsted, and they released the ‘Metal’ EP earlier this year. Now they return with their debut full-length, ‘Heavy Metal Music,’ with Newsted on vocals/bass, Mike Mushok and Jessie Farnsworth on guitars and Jesus Mendez on drums.
The music on the album lives up to the title. It’s straightforward, old-fashioned heavy metal. Sonically, Newsted do not follow the template of their frontman’s previous bands like Flotsam and Jetsam, Metallica or Voivod. You will hear a few influences of those bands, but overall ‘Newsted’ is more in the vein of Motorhead or Prong.
The album opens with ‘Heroic Dose,’ a hard-edged but melodic track. ‘Newsted’ is packed with blue-collar, unpretentious, meat-and-potatoes metal. It’s ruled by the riff and powered by the groove. You’ll also hear some tasty guitar solos, like on ‘As The Crow Flies’ and ‘Ampossible.’
Jason’s beefy vocals combine influences of everyone from Lemmy to Dave Mustaine to Snake from Voivod into his own distinctive style. His bass playing is also distinctive, and it’s nice to hear his rumbling low end turned up nice and loud.
Newsted’s pedigree includes thrash and prog, but there are a lot of doom influences on ‘Heavy Metal Music’ as well. ‘Nocturnus’ and ‘Twisted Tail of the Comet,’ both on the second half of the album, are the doomiest tracks on the record, and you’ll hear some Black Sabbath influences elsewhere, too.
‘Above All’ has a modern rock sensibility with a memorable chorus and catchy riffs, but enough heaviness to be classified as metal. Two of the four songs from the ‘Metal’ EP are reprised on the full-length -- ‘Soldierhead’ and ‘King of the Underdogs.’ The former is one of the strongest songs on the album and the latter is rock solid.
Not every song on the album is a home run, but there are no swings and misses, either. It’s also a bit long at 57 minutes and loses a little momentum as the album winds down. But overall, ‘Heavy Metal Music’ met or exceeded this reviewer’s expectations. It’s a well-rounded, well-written and well-played slab of classic heavy metal music, delivering exactly what the title promises.