By: Robert Winans
The name Jason Newsted is no stranger in the world of heavy metal. He is the former bassist for the legendary band Metallica. He joined Metallica in 1986 after the tragic death of Cliff Burton. He left the band in 2001 to play in a mixture of things from Ozzy Osbourne, to Voivod, to Flotsam and Jetsam and is regarded as one of the best metal bassists in the world today. However, do not think that because this man is a bassist that it means he sits on the sidelines or stays in the background. After listening to his new band simply entitled Newsted and their album Heavy Metal Music, you’ll understand why this band is going to be huge.
This album from start to finish is just as its name suggests heavy metal music. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Its aggressive, heavy, and gives you a real 80’s feel in a new way. It is reminiscent of Metallica, and it occasionally has a sound that reminds you of Motorhead mixed with some Megadeth with a dash of Pantera.
The music itself doesn’t really try to overpower the listener with a lot of sound effects or pro tools wizardry, and at that the production seems really simplified and beat driven. I would challenge any fan of heavy metal to listen to this loud and keep their head still. Its pulse driven, and I think what really sells the album as being solid throughout is that it doesn’t sound like the band is trying to build one artist out of the group. It isn’t as if the individual instruments are fighting for momentary control, they simply play in unison at an equal level. “Soldierhead” is a perfect example of the team aspect of music coming in to play evenly without drowning. They say that there is beauty in simplicity, if that is the case; Newsted pulls it off in spades with an old school feel to it. At the same time, “ Futureality” has a message and some blues style solo work that make you want to put on repeat even given that repetitive nature.
Don’t let that give you the wrong impression about this album, its got a big old school feel to it, but by no means is this dull or incapable with musicianship. It at times likes to deviate from its stylistic formula to play outside its comfort zone like the opener to “King of the Underdogs” and “Twisted Tail of the Comet” offering music that seems looking to connect with a stage audience. It gives us solid guitar work that isn’t unnecessarily preachy or meant to drown anyone. This thing is a slow marching beast picking up speed to remind us that the only thing more gripping than speed is ironically a slow pace that hits you over the head and keeps on coming. The album sounds like a stage show set list being played in front of a crowd and it would fit in well at Wacken Open Air Festival which is a very good thing; a well-oiled machine that’s going to grab your attention and keep it without trying too hard.
It is heavy, powerful, and it does what it’s supposed to. I in no way mean to undersell that line. The album says Heavy Metal Music and that is exactly what you get. There isn’t going to be a lot of frills, and stuff to make the fangirls go nuts. It’s not the latest metal trend album, its just 100 percent Heavy Metal, and to the Metal heads, that is a huge bit of refreshing to get something that isn’t bandwagoning, pandering, or apologetic for what it is. Think of it in terms of when you go to buy an album from a band that has a great title that just sounds harsh. Really it could be anything, but Newsted is real, it’s well-made, and it is exactly what is says it is: Heavy Metal Music. Thank God.
01. Heroic Dose
03. …As The Crow Flies
05. Long Time Dead
06. Above All
07. King Of The Underdogs
09. Twisted Tail Of The Comet
Jason Newsted − lead vocals, bass
Jesus Mendez Jr. − drums
Jessie Farnsworth − guitar, vocals
Mike Mushok − guitar