I am not what you would call a fanatic of Hellyeah. Perhaps, I am not even a casual fan of theirs. I do follow them if only for the mere fact that they are practically a metal supergroup with (former) members from Pantera, Mudvayne and Nothingface within its ranks. While I am not much of a fan of Mudvayne or Nothingface, I am a huge fan of Pantera (we miss you brother Dime). Pantera had no weak links as I liked every member of the band. I still think that Phil Anselmo is one of the greatest frontmen in history. Of course, Dimebag Darrell was a huge inspiration to, not only myself on guitar, but millions of aspiring musicians around the globe. Somehow always forgotten in the Pantera ranks was Vinnie Paul, who could bash teh skins like few others out there. With Hellyeah, we were able to hear those trademark drum sounds once again, so I cannot complain.
Now, to modern day, and the release of Hellyeah’s latest effort Band of Brothers. As I expected, it was hit or miss with me. I like a lot of what they did on this release (probably moreso than their previous releases), but one of my favorite aspects of their music was the way that the chunky riffs were always drenched in southern rock. Those southern rock aspects are all but gone on most of these tracks (musically – I would still say that there are some nods to southern rock in the lyrics).
Vocalist Chad Gray has surely come a long way since Hellyeah’s inception. Once a voice that I could tolerate, but never really appreciate, he has now come into his own and put himself out there in the ranks of decent singers. He is far from elite, but how many vocalists can really be in that category?
As expected, the guitars are more than solid with chunky riffs abound and some really nice interplay between Tom Maxwell and Greg Tribbett. When they are not shining on the axes, Chad Gray is belting out some harsh vocals.
The energy on Band of Brothers is high – much higher than I ever expected from them actually. The songs are composed nicely, but they are heavy and lethal at every turn. I think that Hellyeah accomplished what they sought out to do and that is bring a sound distinct to them out to the metal community, so kudos to them on that. I am not saying that there are not aspects of their music that take inspiration (I am trying to keep it nice here) from other bands.
After all is said and done, the highlight of the album is easily Drink, Drank, Drunk. The riffwork and vocals are pretty intense.