Released: 2007, Epic Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Rising above what would have surely ended most people’s will to live, Vinnie Paul’s first musical venture after the 2004 murder of his brother, former Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell, sees the drummer pair up with members of nu-metal cronies Mudvayne and Nothingface in Hellyeah. On the band’s self-titled debut, echoes of southern rock, chunky groove and some horrendous memories of nu-metal creep into the formula generating an album that will be equally praised and reviled. The first question that comes to mind is why Vinnie Paul has chosen to link up with musicians whose genre of metal is at least seven years past its expiry date. Mudvayne’s quirky nu-metal shtick was played out by 2001 and Nothingface never rose above D-list status. The songs on HELLYEAH bear way too many links to nu-metal and too few of a forward-thinking band. It seems that Hellyeah is geared towards the lowest-common denominator with its image and lyrical themes and if many saw Pantera as catering towards white-trash, then HELLYEAH truly reaches new lows.
Things start out on a low note with opening cut “Hellyeah” (yes, the band, album and song irrevocably all share the same name). The pandering, juvenile lyrics (“Drinking beer, smoking weed, ya getcha hellyeah”) actually made me feel dumber after having listened to them. “You Wouldn’t Know” is the “big” song here and fans of Chad Gray’s vocal stylings in Mudvayne will surely be all over it. The song is moderately catchy and could be breakout hit for the band with modern metal audiences but it certainly is not an instant “grabber.” The chugging “Matter of Time” reeks of the same putrefied downtuning of the guitars that critics of nu-metal rightfully grasped on to. “Waging War” is considerably heavier, bringing to mind immediately late-period Pantera with its harsh vocal delivery and choppy riffs. Things take a turn for the worse, though, with the atrociously-titled “Alcohaulin’ Ass” and “Goddamn.” Gray takes a stab as a cowboy crooner (think Kid Rock’s faux country/southern rock material) with the title repeated endlessly on the former followed-up with a ridiculous chorus of “Can I get a goddamn? GODDAMN!” on the latter. Moments like this make one feel pity for Vinnie Paul at how far removed from the glories of Pantera he is. Some redemption is had with the poignant “Thank You” as the lyrics clearly touch on Vinnie Paul dealing with the death of “Dimebag” Darrell. Gray’s voice works well with the song and instead of being so overly heavy-handed in their approach, this song prospers from understated simplicity.
It’s not 100% clear exactly what Vinnie Paul’s intentions were in hooking up with a band of nu-metal misfits for his first musical endeavor after the murder of his brother. Hellyeah may be an attempt for the five musicians to stretch their musical boundaries a little or to show Mudvayne and Nothingface fans that Chad Gray, Greg Tribbett, Tom Maxwell and Jerry Montano are more than one-trick ponies but the whole project just seems way below the standards of Vinnie Paul. The songs on HELLYEAH have some muscle but are third-rate at best and sound dated for release in 2007. The whole project sounds forced, cheap and insincere. This is a CD that someone might put on to work out to but as far as sitting down and giving HELLYEAH a thorough listen, spare yourself the misery because if this is the best Vinnie Paul has to offer, Dimebag must be spinning in his grave.
Hellyeah? Hell no.
KILLER KUTS: “You Wouldn’t Know,” “Waging War,” “Thank You”