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‘Heavy Metal Music’ is like a throwback to the golden age of metal, where chugging riffs and head-banging goodness abounds. It’s pretty obvious that Jason Newsted has poured all his years of experience in the heavy metal industry into this record and the result is something that sounds kind of like the mixtape your ex-roadie Uncle keeps permanently in his car’s cassette slot.
Right off the bat Newsted drops you back into metal’s heyday. The first track, ‘Heroic Dose’, is a groove-infused flavour of thrash reminiscent of Metallica‘s …And Justice for All, with bass-heavy riffs courtesy of Jason‘s distincitve low end. Following that is ‘Soldierhead’, which was first introduced on Newsted‘s debut EP; ‘Metal’. The pace picks up from here and you’re bound to start banging your head in approval. It’s worth mentioning how downright appropriate Jason‘s vocal style is on this album. His raspy tone is the perfect fit for the music and is evocative of the likes of Lemmy and Hetfield, while some of the slower tracks see him employing a dirtier, almost bluesy style, which creates a great atmosphere. Simply put, Newsted has nailed the vocal aspect of this album. The guitar work is also fitting, with a focus on well-constructed, grooving riffs and heavily melodic solos. If you’re all about balls-to-the-wall shredding you might be disappointed because the solos on this record are the only thing that don’t sound like they’ve been lifted straight out of 80s-era metal. Rather, they’re more likely to remind you of 70s hard rock but they’re still well written and executed.
However, for all its strong points, ‘Heavy Metal Music’ suffers from a few significant drawbacks. The lesser of these is that some of the songs just tend to come off as cheesy (‘Ampossible’ being a main offender). When this does happen it’s usually because Newsted sounds like they’re trying to imitate another band’s sound rather than pay subtle homage. Paying tribute to some fantastic bands is all well and good, but it’s important to establish a unique sound as well, and that’s something Newsted has failed to do here. Nothing new has been brought to the table and that’s the one big letdown with ‘Heavy Metal Music’. As great as it is to hear a band trying to revive a sound that millions of people the world over fell in love with, it’s more important to leave your own personal mark and there just isn’t a trace of individuality to be found.
Jason Newsted’s first full-length with his newly-formed band Newsted sounds for the most part like something of an homage to good ol’ classic heavy metal. Throughout the album’s duration you’ll hear hints of 80s Metallica, a touch of Black Sabbath, a dash of Motörhead, and sometimes you’ll swear you’re listening to more current thrash metal acts like Testament. It’s a great mix that makes for a hard-hitting sound, but also sees Newsted struggling to find their own identity.
1. Heroic Dose
3. As the Crow Flies
5. Long Time Dead
6. Above All
7. King of the Underdogs
9. Twisted Tale of the Comet