ALBUM REVIEW: Welcome Home (HELLYEAH)
ALBUM: Welcome Home // ARTIST: HELLYEAH
Marking the last ever recordings from the legendary Vinnie Paul, the sixth studio album Welcome Home from heavy metal supergroup HELLYEAH emphatically blends an explosive tribute to their fallen brother with a blistering growth and brawling nostalgia that closes one significant chapter while hinting at significantly sturdy new territories.
With just under 12 years since the release of HELLYEAH's first ever album, there's a bittersweet tinge to the group's sixth LP with Welcome Home officially roaring to life yesterday. And while initially designed as an adventure to foray into new and somewhat unchartered sonic waters, Welcome Home has in fact culminated in a release that will be actively remembered, not just for the group's sharp production and extensive stylistic experimentation, but also for the fact that it features the late Vinnie Paul's final outing, with the legendary groove-master in dazzling form for his final adventure.
Opening with a nod to all Pantera fans with 333, Welcome Home greets you with a thrash and a bash as frontman Chad Gray blisters his way across a high octane expedition complete with furious guitars and the heartbreakingly familiar beats of Vinnie Paul belting through the mix. Next up, Oh My God oozes into darker waters, clutching at some snarling nu metal edges before title track Welcome Home swings into more melodic territory with its reflective narrative sitting especially heavy when you consider it came to life long before Vinnie's death.
WELCOME HOME (HELLYEAH)
Flexing its churning hooks, I'm The One rolls out next, treading ever-so-slightly into the land of pop as the earworm chant 'I'm The One' resounds across some, at times, bulkier textures below. And for those who have been hanging for a mosh, Black Flag Army's got you covered as the grooving verses lurch into a roaring chorus before a smashing breakdown and bridge that chunks up the grit and splashes out some particularly memorable moments from bassist Kyle Sanders beneath the sonic skirmish exploding up above.
The latter half of Welcome Home gifts up a dizzying array of constantly shifting forms with grunge-tastic anthems (At Wick's End), swaggering charmers (Perfect) and crushing belters (Bury You) weaving their way in increasingly polished fashion. But just when you thought you'd tasted every HELLYEAH flavour, out comes a jolt of thumping rap rock as Boy wrestles with some extremely 90s influences that'll either evoke love or loathing from the more diehard fans.
BURY YOU (HELLYEAH)
After a whirlwind of thunderous textures, a respite appears in the form of Skyy and Water, marking not only a change of pace for the album but also an extremely significant moment for the band. As the only track on the album written after Vinnie Paul's death, Skyy and Water was in fact penned by Chad Gray the day after Vinnie's passing, gifting a soft and stirring farewell that is fittingly sans-drums and a total immersion as the group farewell one of the most prolific rockstars of this generation. But it's in fact Vinnie that has the final word on Welcome Home as Skyy and Water leads into Irreplaceable - but rather than a song, it's simply a quick recording immortalising Vinnie and his infamous desire for people around him to be happy, with Vinnie's voice appearing 30ish seconds in: "It's a good time. Don't ever think it's not a good time, cos if you do - it's not a good time. A good time is a good time, a bad time is a bad time, and a wonderful time is irreplaceable. And that's what tonight is, a wonderful time, me and my beautiful girlfriend here having a blast".
It's ultimately difficult to listen to a HELLYEAH album without the overarching tragedy of Vinnie's death weighing heavily on proceedings, particularly as Welcome Home captures the last ever recordings of the man himself. But with tragedy comes strength and determination, and Welcome Home signals some eventful evolution and measured delivery that would easily capture both existing and unfamiliar listeners into the fray. Where the group go from here sonically is anyone's guess, but with the gents currently geared up to take the album on the road in Vinnie's honour (with Stone Sour's Roy Mayorga jumping on the kit), there's no slowing the HELLYEAH freight train, and Welcome Home is a dynamic send-off for one of our favourite cowboys from hell.
HELLYEAH'S BRAND NEW ALBUM OFFICIALLY LEAPT OUT INTO THE WORLD YESTERDAY, AND THE GENTS WILL BE HITTING THE ROAD IN NOVEMBER WITH SOME EXTENSIVE AMERICAN DATES, DONATING A PORTION OF TICKET SALES TO THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION IN VINNIE PAUL'S MEMORY.
FOR MORE INFO, HEAD TO: hellyeahband.com
BY TIANA SPETER