We all know that Jason Newsted joined Metallica in 1986 after Cliff Burton's tragic death, where he remained (making him the band's longest-serving bassist in the process) before a rather acrimonious split in 2001.
After he left Metallica, Newsted worked with his Echobrain project, had a brief spell playing in Ozzy Osborne's band (where he, ironically, replaced Rob Trujillo who had filled the bass player role in Metallica vacated by Newsted) before joining Voivod from 2002-2008.
It was in late 2012 that Newsted announced the formation of his self-titled band and it wasn't long before he laid out his musical intent with a four track EP titled, simply, 'Metal' joining forces with drummer Jesus Mendez Jr and guitarist Jessie Farnsworth. As Newsted have just released their first full length album, I decided to re-listen to the original four track EP to see if the new album is something that I should be adding to my "To Buy" list.
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The thing that hits you square in the head with this EP compared to Newsted's other self-led projects is that this is unashamedly Metal in name, intent and execution. There's no messing about as 'Soldierhead' kicks things off in fine fashion. As simple drum/cymbal combination from Mendez leads into a good solid guitar riff that's backed up with a simple but effective drum beat. Newsted's voice is good and strong, and the short punchy lyrics seem to roll off his tongue easily enough but he still manages to inject a bit of venom and spite into them.
'Godsnake' is slower in pace but there's no doubt about how heavy the track is. The throbbing bass line comes across well alongside the guitar riff from Farnsworth which chugs along at a respectable pace while Newsted's voice sounds gloriously evil throughout the song. Short guitar solos from both Newsted and Farnsworth in the middle of the track show that this is a real band effort and all three members work together solidly as opposed to Newsted trying to take over the show.
'King Of The Underdogs' is as close as this band get to a ballad and it's probably the most accessible of the four tracks here, but saying that, it still retains a heavy guitar driven tempo. The catchy chorus has the tempo speeding up slightly and the oft repeated line of 'I Am The King' could get the crowd responding in a live situation. Again Mendez throws down a heavy drum beat while the guitar solo has an echoey effect with adds a little more body to it, making this my favourite track here.
'Skyscraper' is the closing track and the longest song by some margin. With some effects added to the vocals, it has a slightly different sound to some of the other tracks - not a bad thing per se as the vocal sound is so much fuller than some of the other performances. This mid-paced song has another catchy guitar riff and another short and catchy chorus of 'No War Is Good, No War Is Holy' is punctuated by a solid guitar solo. The tempo is quite slows in the latter half of the track which gives the band a chance to show their talents one last time and gives this EP a polished finish.
With the recent addition of Mike Mushok on guitar leaving Newsted to concentrate on Bass and Vocal duties, this finally seems to be a vehicle that will give Newsted the success that he's been looking for ever since he left Metallica. With the full length debut album that I spoke about earlier, titled 'Heavy Metal Music', (which features and 'King of the Underdogs' and 'Soldierhead' along with nine other brand new tracks) I really do hope he gets all the success that he deserves, and on the strength of this EP it's definately an album that I'll be buying.
King Of The Underdogs
You can see the official video for 'King Of The Underdogs' here:
Jason Newsted - Vocals/Guitar/Bass
Jessie Farnsworth - Guitar/Bass/Backing Vocals
Jesus Mendez Jnr – Drums
Official Website: http://newstedheavymetal.com