Hellyeah
Hellyeah

There’s something slightly disturbing about this project to me. First, I see the video for the first single and one of the guitar players in this band looks and moves eerily like drummer Vinnie Paul’s late brother Dimebag. Then, there’s the singer from Mudvayne doing his best Phil Anselmo impression on some of the tunes, and I just have to wonder about Vinnie’s mental state. I mean, you couldn’t blame the guy if he’d gone a little off his rocker after what happened, but the blatant attempts that I hear at times on this record to recreate something that’s gone forever … I don’t know.

When they’re not trying to remake Pantera, it sounds a lot like what you’d think a band featuring members of Mudvayne and Nothingface. Vinnie’s drumbeats bring that southern groove to some of the songs, but its still very nu metallish. Sometimes it’s a fun and catchy nu metal, as on the eponymous “Hellyeah,” other times it’s a sad, tired version, as on the lead single “You Wouldn’t Know.”

Of the Pantera-like numbers, a couple of them are not bad. “Rotten to the Core” will take fans back a lot of years musically with a real Cowboys From Hell sound, but like just about every song on this record, Chad Gray’s voice just doesn’t have the power to pull it off. That’s also the problem with “One Thing,” a song that comes off a bit commercial with his vocals, but that I imagine would have been a decent song with Anselmo singing. I know Vinnie and Phil are not likely to ever share the same studio or stage again, but it would improve just about every one of these tunes. For that matter, I would have even preferred Pat Lachman. The only real mess of this bunch is “Waging War,” where the band tries its best to lock into that Pantera power groove, but just can’t quite get it – it’s like Pantera without the great guitar work – and again Gray’s screams are no match for Anselmo’s.

Of the nu metal stuff, there’s not much worth mentioning. “Hellyeah” isn’t a bad song, and “Matter of Time” sounds like a Damageplan throwaway ruined by a rappy vocal delivery. “GodDamn” is the typical bouncy nu metal tune with “life is shit and I’m angry lyrics.” “Star” is worth a listen for the opening riff, but the whiny vocals quickly turned me off.

Surprisingly, the two best tracks on the record are the two that are probably the most out of character. The semi-ballad “Thank You,” a sentimental number penned for Dime could have been a disaster, but instead I can picture people listening to it and raising a toast in his honor. It’s a nice tribute. But my favorite tune on the record is the laid-back, acoustic southern rocker “Alcoholin’ Ass.” It’s about the only song here where I actually like Gray’s vocals, and it’s got a nice, mellow groove. It’s a side of Vinnie that we suspected was there, but haven’t really seen before. Very nice.

Ultimately, I guess the debut from Hellyeah isn’t an awful record. I can deal with a few Pantera lite tunes if I’m not actually looking at the guy in the video trying to recreate Dime, and as nu metal goes, the stuff here is of the better variety. To be honest, though, I can’t really see myself listening to it very often. Maybe I’m just hoping for something that’s gone forever, too.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
April 14th, 2007

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