Thursday, February 28, 2013

Newsted - Metal [album review]

Released in January

Newsted is the name of former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted's latest project and Metal is the succinct title of their new EP (the group is rounded out by drummer Jesus Mendez Jr. and guitarist Jessie Farnsworth)Metal is a solid first release from the project headlined by a musician whose career since leaving metal's biggest act a dozen years ago has been rather underwhelming. Newsted had stints with Ozzy Osbourne's band and Voivoid, contributed to the awful TV-affiliated Rock Star Supernova project, and was the force behind the unimpressive Echobrain, among other musical endeavours.  

Metal's four songs sound much closer to the old school metal bands, like Black Sabbath and Motรถrhead, that influenced Metallica than Metallica itself. The sludgy "Godsnake" and grooving "Skyscraper" strongly evoke mid 70s Sabbath, right down to the latter's half-time tempo shift on its back end. There's still some Metallica-like elements in there, mind you, particularly on "King Of The Underdogs" and the thrashing "Soldierhead", which also has a mid-song bass breakdown that clearly pays homage to Megadeth's "Peace Sells". Newsted's punchy bass nicely stands out throughout the EP and his snarling vocals capably handle the lead singing responsibilities. As much as I'm a fan of Robert Trujillo, Newsted's replacement in Metallica, Trujillo's off-key background vocals in a live setting with the group can't hold a candle to the job Newsted did...and the less said about the even worse contributions in the same capacity of Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammet the better.

Although Metal scarcely has an original musical idea during its 22 minute running time, it's still an above average and quite promising appetizer from the Newsted trio, who are planning to deliver subsequent short form releases in the upcoming months.

Rating: B-

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