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Album Review: Newsted - Heavy Metal Music
Where He Should Be
On September 27, 1986, legendary bass player Cliff Burton, the shredding bass player of thrash giants Metallica, died in a bus accident in Sweden. It was a devastating loss to the metal community, but even more so to his fellow band mates. Determined to soldier on, the search began for a new bass player able to fill the monstrous shoes left by Burton. In enters Jason Newsted, a young bass master who had already started making a name for himself with the thrash band Flotsam And Jetsam, a band that he was, in my opinion, the unoffical leader of (aside from playing bass he also wrote the majority of the lyrics for their first album). Tumultuous relations within the band aside (the other band members have freely admitted that they were not the most amicable people in their treatment of him), with Newsted in their ranks the band reached greater heights both artistically and in terms of success than they had ever thought possibly. Still, in 2001, frustrated by the musically stagnant wasteland that was his band at the time, Newsted left to pursue other ventures. He kicked around various projects including Echobrain, Ozzy Osbourne and Voivod, but aside from his occasional guest appearances with Metallica, he has been a largely obscure name on the musical landscape. But now, he has returned with a band that he is in full control of, taking up bass and vocal duties of his self titled band, Newsted. I have wanted to see Jason take control of a band all his own for a long time, as I have always thought he was an immensely talented musician and was not using his abilities to their full potential. Is this the album where he finally shows us what he's really capable of?
Musically the album is pretty much what you would expect. Solid, meat and potatoes heavy metal with awesome riffs and a pretty good headbanging groove throughout. Most of it is very fast but there are some slow and powerful ones on it. If I were to generalize the sound, I would say it sounds like 90s Metallica meets Motorhead. Fast and heavy, just as it's titled implies. If you're looking for diversity, you won't find too much on here (no ballads to be found here) but if what you want is a straight forward rocker from start to finish, then you are going to really enjoy this (great driving album).
The lyrics are some traditional metal topics as well, focusing on tales of war, personal tales and rousing anthems representing the underdogs. The writing that Newsted was almost always denied in Metallica is definitely made up for here, and while I doubt we will see any thesis papers detailing the significance of them, for the most part they are still good. The only real criticism I have is that a few of them do seem to burrow a bit from the James Hetfied school of "trying to be clever and failing", song titles "Ampossible" and "Futureality" being the most notable once (no disrespect to James, lifelong Metallica fan here).
The primary reason why I am grateful that there are no ballads on this album. Newsted's voice is a harsh old-school metal growl reminiscent of Lemmy or Alice Cooper and lets itself very well to the tone of the music. Trying to stray from that would likely not be a very good use of this at best, and a rather unpleasant listening experience at worst. Like I said before, for those seeking more diversity in their metal this may be something of a turn off. It works with what is there, and moreover it just makes me happy to hear Jason Newsted taking even more control over his music.
This really is what I have been wanting from Jason Newsted for a long time. The satisfaction of finally hearing him take full control of his musical path is so great that that alone almost makes the album worth getting. The fact that it is an incredibly awesome offering of classic sounding metal just makes it even better. I highly recommend this album for all metal heads who just want something to headbang to for a while.
Final Score: 8/10