Sunday, 17 March 2013

Newsted's 'Metal' - EP Review

Jason Newsted rose to fame as the bassist of thrash metal titans Metallica between 1986 and 2001, and played on some of the band's most successful and controversial albums. Proir to joining Metallica, he was involved in another thrash band, Flotsam and Jetsam; and joined Voivod after leaving Metallica. 2013 saw the release of his first solo album, the four track EP Metal - released under the name Newsted. It represents the music that Jason has been involved with for the past three decades, so it makes sense that it is predominantly a thrash metal album. The three-piece band consists of Newsted, who handles the lead vocals and bass guitar, guitarist Jessie Farnsworth and drummer Jesus Mendez Jr. Between them, the three have created a tight sound and written some punchy, catchy metal tracks. While this is nothing highly original, it has a certain freshness to it and would seem that Newsted is relishing in his new-found freedom away from the confines of the band environment.

The EP opens with the delicious grooves of Soliderhead. This is true headbanging heaven, with a simple yet infectious riff that drives the song and Newsted's surprisingly strong voice snarling over the top of everything. The song alternates between fast passages and mid-paced plods dominated by a roaring bassline and creates a song staying faithful to the thrash tradition yet also will appeal to those who prefer their metal a little more melodic. There really is something for everyone here. Godsnake follows, and 'snake' it does. There is certainly a big influence from groove metal here and the slow-paced guitar riff brings out the best in Newsted's voice. One of the biggest surprises that you get when listened to this album is just how good his voice is! It is strong and fits the material well. Rather unsurprisingly, the bass is always very audiable and complements the guitar work well, creating a big sound for a three piece. King of the Underdogs is next and, in my opinion, is the best track on the album. Opening with some clean guitar and pulsing bass work, the song soon escalates into a heavy, snarling beast with a massive guitar riff and crashing drums. The lyrical content seems to deal with how he now wants to step out of the shadows of his former bands and make a name for himself on his own terms. It boasts an extremely catchy chorus and you feel his desire to be a success on his own - and with more songs like this, I am sure that he will be! There is also a great, fluid guitar solo from Farnsworth that has an eerie, almost Gilmour-esque quality. Finally, we have Skyscraper, which features probably the best riff of the album. The song is heavy, yet very melodic, and is a tour-de-force for the band who really show off their songwriting and technical prowess here. There really is not a bad track on this EP and is a great way to show intent on a new lease of life. With Metal, Newsted is making a bold statement: 'I can do this on my own, and on my own term!' All I can say, is that I hope this is followed up by a full album sometime - I cannot wait to hear more of his writing.

The EP was released on 8th January 2013 via Chophouse Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Soliderhead.

No comments:

Post a Comment