I believe that it is human nature to want to find a lasting way to immortalize a loved one that has passed away. History has proven that the custom of creating a tangible or abstract method paying homage to the deceased has been a mainstay in almost every culture bringing comfort and solace for centuries. Humans that possess the soul of an artist seem to process loss and grief on a completely different level, most of the time creating something ethereal from their pain. Case in point, the sixth studio album from Heavy Metal badasses HELLYEAH, Welcome Home (Eleven Seven Music) is a fitting and spine-tingling tribute to their dearly departed drummer, Vinnie Paul Abbott. The album as a whole possesses some very tasty stand out tracks.
The eleven-track album gets down to brutal Heavy Metal business immediately with the Thrash Metal infused first track, ‘333’. Frontman Chad Gray’s vocal stylings on this track are abrasive and menacing. Gray definitely shows his vocal prowess with his ability to switch from a contemptuous growl to a clean straight forward lyrical delivery. One of my favorite attributes of HELLYEAH is they have not one, but two absolutely phenomenal guitarists, Tom Maxwell and Christian Brady. Both play lead and rhythm guitar, the versatility this creates is evident in this guitar hook-driven extravaganza.
The title track, ‘Welcome Home’ is the type of track that possesses such introspective lyrics that the accompanying instrumentals seem to fall away as the brain tries to process the magnitude of what the lyrics represent. Honestly, a feeling of phenomenal loss washed over me when I realized this song was written and recorded before Vinnie Paul passed away.
Track four, ‘I’m The One’ warrants mentioning simply because it is absolutely infectious with its addicting lyrical hook in the chorus. I can attest that this phrase “I’m the one” will burrow its self into your gray matter and claim residency.
The fifth track, ‘Black Flag Army’ is so consummately descriptive that it paints a clear picture of unity. This track is a headbanging, mosh pit inducing, arms pumping in the air musical bonanza. The chorus starts the build-up to the frenzy, while the bridge and breakdown sustain the melee all the way until the chanting outro dissipates. Bassist Kyle Sanders really gets his chance to shine on this track during the bridge and breakdown when the vocals and bassline are isolated.
The next four tracks, ‘At Wicks End’, ‘Perfect’, ‘Bury You’ and ‘Boy’ are aggressive energy-filled Heavy Metal gold, a headbangers wet dream if you will. The tenth track changes the entire atmosphere of this album and is by far the number one stand out track on the album. Chad Gray wrote ‘Skyy and Water’ the day after Vinnie Paul died and frankly, this track will unceremoniously stop you in your tracks. Full disclosure, I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me as I listened to this song for the first time. Gray’s vocals purvey a sense of loss that will literally penetrate your very soul. Simply put, ‘Skyy and Water, is a beautifully breathtaking eulogy set to music meant to say goodbye to our beloved friend.
Once again, with this album, HELLYEAH has proven why they are considered one of the best Heavy Metal bands in the history of ever. Raunchy, gritty dripping with the slightest hint of depravity, Welcome Home will instantly become your go-to album for any occasion that demands the very best tunes.
7 / 10