Album Reviews

Newsted – Metal EP

on January 14, 2013, 12:00am
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For years, Jason Newsted was a follower — a bass player at the mercy of his bandmates. When he joined Metallica in 1986, he replaced the irreplaceable Cliff Burton, who died in a bus accident earlier that year. The odds were against Newsted: Metallica fans had no reason to like him and neither did Metallica. Notice how the bass on 1988’s And Justice for All…  is nearly inaudible. It’s rumored that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich snuck into the studio and turned the knobs down on all of Newsted’s parts before the LP was pressed.

This animosity came to a breaking point in 2001, as famously documented by Some Kind of Monster. With Hetfield and Ulrich’s egos threatening to engulf the band, Newsted quit. He joined sci-fi thrashers Voivod a year later and lasted eight years before leaving the group.

Now, he’s singing, playing bass, and writing songs for his own band. The trio’s debut EP, aptly titled Metal, is only four tracks long. But despite its brevity, Metal hits harder than anything Metallica’s recorded in the past 20 years.

Opener “Soldierhead” is a rigid crusher; Newsted speed-slaps his bass before letting us hear his metal voice for the first time. He snarls like Rob Zombie, and his inflection mimics that of Voivod’s Denis Bélanger. The lyrics are cheesy but forgivable: “Demon-scene hellscape / Try to not get dead.” Stylistically, there’s not much variation between the four tracks. “Godsnake” and “Skyscraper” share stop-start rhythms and lyrics about war and destruction (it is Metal, after all). Six-minute centerpiece “King of the Underdogs” sounds like it was written as a middle finger to Hetfield and Ulrich, the musical equivalent of saying, “Fuck you guys, look what I can do.”

And that’s really the whole conceit of Metal. It’s quick, heavy, and repetitive. There’s little melody — just pure thrash. In four songs, Jason Newsted evokes the raw abandon and simplicity this genre mandates. Metallica? Pssh. Who needs ‘em.

Essential Track: “Soldierhead”

3 comments

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David Ventura
February 18, 2013 at 1:02 am

Yeah, I’ve got some “remixed” (they are not really remixed, but rather lack the final mastering of the pressed album, plus an actual unedited instrumental of dyers eve, not that guitar hero rip-off with no rhythm guitar during the solo) songs off of And Justice and you can clearly listen to Jason’s playing, which is just fantastic and spot on in that album, as well as it is in subsequent Metallica albums.

Samuel Milliken
January 22, 2013 at 5:54 am

Id agree with this review more however it’s nowhere near the first time I’ve heard Jason sing. His backing vocals made the and justice for all album heavier and all their other songs better, plus he song a couple of songs solo like whiplash and seek when james was too drunk I like his voice but i think he sounds more like chuck billy from testament than rob zombie.

sachin
January 22, 2013 at 6:52 am

yeah…..slightly younger Mr. Billy………

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