HELLYEAH - Five musicians, three bands = creative collision of sonic proportions. The highly anticipated debut release features MUDVAYNE lead singer Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett, former PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul and NOTHINGFACE guitarist Tom Maxwell and bassist Jerry Montano. The quintet includes three of hard rock's most revered and valuable players, with careers highlighted by an astonishing run of chart-topping gold and platinum albums, major industry awards, critical acclaim, Grammy nominations and music of monolithic power. The March 2006 issue of REVOLVER magazine features a cover story that hails the band as "the ultimate metal super group."
On paper it looks like a headbanger's dream and in the imagination it sounds like no other band possibly could: Mudvayne's Chad Gray (vocals) and Greg Tribbett (guitar), Nothingface's Tom Maxwell (guitar), and Jerry Montano (bass) join Damageplan/Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul for a good ol' batch of brawny brewtality. On record, Hellyeah sounds like your run-of-the-mill post nü metal band as it serves up a batch of southern-inflected tunes that rock hard but unconvincingly over the course of the album's 44 minutes. A thoroughly bad album would inspire the listener to pipe up with a resounding "hell no," but instead, Hellyeah's mediocre debut forces one to issue a whimpering, lukewarm "well, maybe," a far more troubling sign.
The opening, titular track slams the listener's eardrums with precision guitar figures from Maxwell and Tribbett and some career-defining pummeling from Paul. Even Gray fires on all cylinders for the bulk of the tune's three-and-a-half minutes. But the record quickly sinks beneath the weight of Gray's unsophisticated and often sophomoric lyrics. His attack on critics, "Waging War," is little more than a profanity-laden temper tantrum that's as cliché as it is petulant; "Alchohaulin' Ass," a would-be southern rock anthem, fails to live up to the minimal promise of its title and instead of turning into triumph of the spirit and celebration of the party life serves to remind us that the bottle is far more capable of drowning creative impulses than it is drowning one's sorrows; "Thank You," alternately an ode to the departed and a way of making good with the living, confuses the numbing effects of drugs and drink with the powerful connectivity of intimacy and thus fails in its attempts at suggesting we all get a little closer. Others, such as "Nausea," "One Thing," and "Star" feature lyrics so poorly developed and derivative that it's hardly worth commenting on them.
Well worth avoiding.