Sound — 8
Hellyeah is a supergroup formed by Chad Gray (Mudvayne vocalist), Vinnie Paul (Pantera and Damageplan drummer) and Tom Maxwell (Nothingface guitarist). Since the band was founded back in 2006, these members have stayed constant, though they've had some changes with their second guitarist and bass player. As of 2014, their new bass player is Kyle Sanders (Bloodsimple bassist), and they currently have Christian Brady supplying the second guitar parts live but have no permanent replacement for Greg Tribbett. These lineup changes occurred during the recording of "Blood for Blood," and it is unclear how much, if any, contributions came from the departing members. This is the band's fourth album since they founded 8 years ago, which is a record of roughly an album of every 2 years. There are 12 tracks on the album with a total runtime of approximately 46 minutes.
The album opens up with "Sangre Por Sangre (Blood for Blood)" which really sets the stage for the rest of the album. You have heaviness, though nothing that is really a surprise, and lyrics that are so metal they're a little bit over the top. That's the point of Hellyeah, anyway, to be metal and have some strong Vinnie Paul-style groove running through it. As the tracks roll on the most impressive thing is how "locked in" Tom Maxwell and Vinnie Paul seem to be. A good example of this is "Demons in the Dirt," which is the second track on the album. "Soul Killer" has Tom Maxwell almost flirting with the more abrasive style of guitar used in his main project, Nothingface, very briefly in the intro - but this quickly grows into much more conventional metal riffing. "Moth" stands out for having some of the heaviest drumming on the album for me during the heavy parts, and having some of the "cleanest" passages on the album, as well. "Cross to Bier (Cradle of Bones)" has some interesting stuff going on with triplets where a lot of the lyrics seem to be sang in triplets, as well. It gives the track a really unique sound on the album. "DMF" is all about riffs and groove, which Hellyeah always come back to (good thing, too, because it is definitely their strong points). "Gift" has some of the least aggressive guitar parts from the album, but probably one of my favorite rhythm parts on the album, anyway. "Hush" has an intro that briefly flirts with atonality but quickly goes to a more traditional picked melody, but the song never truly gets heavy and stands out because of this. "Say When" starts out with an intense drum solo that builds up to a really intense track and the band tries to do a lot with this track, but mainly it just stays really intense. "Black December" barely sounds like it fits on the album with the other tracks, to be completely honest. It is much more like hard rock than any type of metal. "Feast or Famine" is another good example of the the bassist and guitar being locked in with the drummer just right. This track is just oozing groove in a serious kind of way. The album closes out with an acoustic version of "Hush," which works fairly well.
Lyrics — 7
Chad Gray is really a fairly versatile type of vocalist, as he can sound pretty rough when he wants to, but can sing "pretty," too. There isn't a lot of vocal processing going on except for some reverb and delay (from what I can hear). As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the title track "Sangre Por Sangre (Blood for Blood)": "Sangre porsangre, blood for blood/ betraying a trust is a must in your mind/ the agenda's just business as usual/ remember the imbecile the fire's they light/ cities smolder with the innocent victims/ democracy is hypocrisy, dictatorship is what we need/ because really what's the f--king difference/ so come on in and take a seat/ and listen to the lies they love to preach/ because the truth would just be f--king senseless." The lyrics are pretty much in line with here the band has come from lyrically on previous albums.
Overall Impression — 7
A good album always makes me want to play guitar, and this album definitely falls into that category, and also makes good music seem more attainable for me as a musician than I sometimes feel. Hellyeah doesn't do anything that is game-changing but they do what they're known for - which is make a heavy riff-driven album with a LOT of groove (thanks to Vinnie Paul). You gotta give Tom Maxwell credit as well, because what Hellyeah does is definitely a little bit different than what he does with Nothingface. A large part of their sound is surely built around their "recording technique" which includes basically living together during the process, drinking beers together and "jamming." It helps capture the right type of spirit in their music. My favorite tracks from the album would probably be "Demons in the Dirt," "Moth," "Feast or Famine," "Gift" and "Say When." I'm somewhat partial to the acoustic version of "Hush," as well. Really, this is a solid release and you can't say much else about it.