The march of "supergroup" collaborations continues, with this new amalgamation featuring MUDVAYNE singer Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett, NOTHINGFACE guitarist Tom Maxwell and bassist Jerry Montano, and former PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN drummer Vinnie Paul. The project's self-titled disc is a solid slab of straight-out metal, with little of the complexity of MUDVAYNE or angularity of NOTHINGFACE and much more of the full-on, pedal-to-the-metal style of Vinnie Paul's previous work.
It's terrific to hear his thunderous drums anchoring the album — the first all-new record he's played on since the death of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott over two years ago. Paul also produced the disc (with Sterling Winfield) and the bottom-heavy, thick sound that was a PANTERA trademark is evident throughout this CD as well. His producing and arranging skills go a long way toward helping the material on hand here, much of which is fairly generic, but bolstered by strong performances and the record's overall sound.
The song "Hellyeah" acts as a statement of intent and rousing anthem, followed by first single "You Wouldn't Know", which features one of the album's strongest hooks and a more MUDVAYNE-like vocal performance from Gray, who otherwise sounds like he's channeling a chunk of Phil Anselmo through much of the record. It's also kind of funny to hear a Midwesterner try to come across as a Southern good ol' boy in "Alcohaulin' Ass", although he gives it the best attempt he can.
The slower songs, including "Star" and "Thank You", border on musical and lyrical cliché, although one can't deny the heartfelt nature of the latter when heard in the context of the awful Dimebag tragedy. As for the heavier numbers, "Matter of Time" is propelled by a slashing main riff while closer "One Thing" marches to the finish line with a rumbling, crunching wall of guitars worthy of Dimebag himself. Other numbers on the album, such as "Goddamn", "Rotten to the Core" and "Waging War" are less memorable (note on that last one: it's better to just ignore the press if you don't like them instead of write a whole song about them) but still have a frenzied power that will probably sound even more intense live. Like most collaborations, "Hellyeah" never quite equals the best of its members' main output, but sounds like they had a hell of a good time making it.