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.
“Twisted Tail Of The Comet”