Sound: I've been a casual fan of Hellyeah since 2006 with the release of their self-titled debut album, and since that time my feelings about the band have varied wildly in extremes of like and dislike. Their earlier releases definitely had more in the way of "southern rock" moments, which I really enjoyed, but on this new release their connection to "southern rock" is definitely confined to some of the lyrical content except for the song 'Between You and Nowhere' which is so southern rock it barely fits with the other material on the album, and is predominately an acoustic song. On the other hand, there is definitely more "groove" in their groove metal than there has been in the past, and it is executed immaculately. There are some periods of really worthwhile melody on the album as well, with the stand out melody being a very short little melody on the song "Bigger God". Mainly you get a lot of really awesome metal rhythms with a lot of groove, some really great screamed/growled lyrics and an overall fun album.
Hellyeah began recording "Band Of Brothers" in 2011 and got right down to it and put the album together pretty quickly, but not at the expense of quality. In interviews, members of the band have stated that their new release will be much more metal oriented and this definitely comes across at the first listen. The album was recorded in Vinnie Paul's studio, VP's Upstairs Studio, in Dallas. They ended with eleven tracks with a total runtime of just under 45 minutes. The album cover artwork is actually pretty bada-s in a very southern metal/rock kind of way portraying a circle of hands clasping the next wrist in line. The first two singles from the album, "War In Me" and the title track "Band Of Brothers" have been available for download on iTunes since around May, and the video for "War In Me" is available on YouTube. When you listen to the album what you really begin to notice is Hellyeah really sounds like Mudvayne and Damageplan kind of playing off of each other, and the resulting groove is really a worthwhile listen, and I discovered it really begins to sink in on subsequent listens. // 8
Lyrics: Chad Gray has really grown as a vocalist even just since 2006 when Hellyeah formed, and has really grown to be one of the most well rounded vocalists in any metal genre. The lyrics range everywhere from clean vocals to shrieks to growls and most of the areas between these. I think what makes the album really stand out for me is the style of vocal delivery is pretty dynamic throughout the album you aren't sitting there for 45 minutes listening to just clean vocals or just shrieked vocals or just growls. Chad Gray is a vocalist everyone seems to either love or hate, and I definitely love his work. The lyrics and music fit together very well throughout the album, but as always with Hellyeah some of their lyrics do go into the realm of being a little bit cheesy. Really, the borderline cheesy lyrics are sometimes part of their attraction as an example, from the song "Drink Drank Drunk" when Chad Gray screams "And we're almost out of beer!" this is both cheesy and one of the best vocal hooks I've heard in a metal song in a long time.
As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are a few examples. From the song "Drink Drank Drunk" you have: "Let's get f--ked up, till we fall down/ Till everybody gets drink drank drunk, right now/ Let's get torn up till we're face down/ Cause the hell yeah drink drank drunk, / We're back in town, right now" and then later in the song "There's only 2 reasons that we showed up here, right now/ To party and kick some a-s, and we're almost out of beer/ There's only 2 reasons that we showed up here, right now/ To party and kick some a-s, and we're almost out of beer, yeah!". As another sample of lyrics from the song "Between You And Nowhere" is: "I can't remember, the day we died/ My last memory, we were just trying to survive/ Ain't what it used to be, no I've grown cold/ Like watching the sun go to bed at the end of a lonely road/ I walk through life around by your side/ But you couldn't touch me/ Kept my heart upon the top shelf/ Just out of your reach/ Somewhere between you and nowhere/ Is where I always seem to be/ Somewhere between star light and darkness/ Is where my life's taken me". Again, as I said, the lyrics sometimes do drift into the realm of cheesiness, but that is part of the attraction of Hellyeah to be honest. // 8
Overall Impression: "Band Of Brothers" definitely stacks up favorably to Hellyeah's previous releases not necessarily better or worse, but a very respectable release with a much more metal feel to it, and a fun album. My favorite songs on the album would have to be the title track, "Band Of Brothers", as well as "Drink Drank Drunk", "Between You And Nowhere" and "Dig Myself A Hole". My least favorite track on the album would have to be their single "War In Me", but I see a lot of people disagreeing with me on that personal tastes and all of that. This album really shines as a good driving album, or if you're sitting around drinking with your buddies with the song "Drink Drank Drunk" being one of the best drinking songs I've ever heard. My favorite things about the album in general is the lyrics are very dynamic and it has a killer groove. If I was going to complain about anything I would complain about there not being enough solos, but more solos don't necessarily fit with this album. I think also the order of the tracks isn't optimized and almost comes across like the order of tracks is random. I personally like for an album to have a flow to it but I'm just being picky now. // 7
- Brandon East (c) 2012