I honestly can't remember the last time I walked into a strip club and got out of there without seeing at least one dancer spin slowly around the pole to the tune of HELLYEAH's "Alcohaulin' Ass". Sure, you had the occasional girl, usually jacked up on Red Bull and vodka, blaring one of the band's more upbeat tracks, but the moral of my story is that Vinnie Paul and his supergroup of outlaw rockers have become the new MÖTLEY CRÜE where the dayshift diva's playlist is concerned. Naturally, the arena rock jocks, beer drinkers and hell raisers of the world joined the party as well. As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and HELLYEAH has returned with another slab of solid, albeit safe, high-octane party tunes.
If there's one thing this disc has a lot of, it's groove. Opener "Cowboy Way" chugs along with formulaic fervor, though vocalist Chad Gray's musings about cowboys and hillbillies might cause a few eyes to roll. Still, the tune accompanies the southern-fried, slide-guitar laden party anthem, "Hell Of A Time", quite nicely. Similar radio-ready cuts like "The Debt That All Men Pay" and "Stampede" bring a little more meat n' potatoes aggression to the table, but still travel the same road as the rest of the album. The mood takes a sober and somber turn during the retrospective ballad "Better Man", but picks right back up with the sonic bar brawl "It's On" and (yep) ode to peelers everywhere, "Pole Rider". Goddamn, Vinnie loves them strippers. The album closes on a dark note with the political "Order The Sun". Easily the album's heaviest (and arguably best) track, I can hear more of the boys' other bands in this one than I have on any other HELLYEAH tune to date.
My biggest gripe about "Stampede" would be the lack of creativity from the guitar players. Both Greg Tribbett (MUDVAYNE) and Tom Maxwell (NOTHINGFACE) have been known to push the envelope, even within the confines of verse-chorus-verse, mainstream metal, but they still haven't done so in HELLYEAH. Yeah, I know that HELLYEAH is a beast unto itself, but a little bit of "L.D. 50" styled weirdness from Tribbett would have been nice. Just one man's opinion though.
For all intents and purposes, "Stampede" is a pretty damned decent album, just as long as you've accepted the fact that the band will deliver very little of what its members have offered with their respective main gigs (MUDVAYNE, NOTHINGFACE and, of course, PANTERA). There are no vulgar displays of power going on here, just music written by five dudes that want to party while they practice. It's a chemistry that works well for the band and the vibe shines through when "Stampede" comes out of the speakers.