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Newsted - "Metal" (CD/EP)

Newsted - "Metal" CD/EP cover image

"Metal" track listing:

1. Soldierhead (4:16)
2. Godsnake (5:16)
3. King of the Underdogs (6:00)
4. Skyscraper (6:36)

Reviewed by on January 29, 2013

"The EP 'Metal' is the first output from Newsted, and it’s a mixed bag of four songs with distinct styles."

Bassist Jason Newsted has been off the grid from the music world since his stint with Voivod ended after 2009’s “Infini.” Other than contributing to the supergroup WhoCares single “Out Of My Mind” in 2011, he seemed to disappear into seclusion. After a few years, and an appearance during one of Metallica’s 30th anniversary shows, Newsted has a new project baring his name. This is significant, as Newsted has complete creative control over the direction and sound of these songs, unlike his involvement with some past bands. The EP “Metal” is the first output from Newsted, and it’s a mixed bag of four songs with distinct styles.

There has been major press given towards “Soldierhead,” with grand hyperbole written about it, including the obvious “Motorhead meets Testament” description. Though it’s very easy to just put two legendary bands together to explain how a song sounds, that is the most apt depiction of the opening track to “Metal.” It’s a crowd-pleaser, with Newsted sneering into the microphone and destroying the bass strings like it was 1987 again. If the rest of the EP was as vivacious as “Soldierhead,” a celebration would be in order. Too bad that’s not the case.

Instead of working off the ideas expressed on “Soldierhead,” Newsted and company proceed to explore a different sonic plane on the next three tracks. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to try your hand at something other than thrash, but it’s an issue when the three songs seem disconnected from each other. “Godsnake” is a slower, sludgy tune that drags to its finish, and “Skyscraper” is an upbeat version of Down that isn’t as dynamic. These songs hover around six minutes, and feel longer than that. The only one to make any solid impression is the bruising “King of the Underdogs,” which is at least wise enough to pick the pace up again.

The lack of cohesion is the main downfall to “Metal.” The band is better suited for getting their thrash on. Shorter songs would also be beneficial, as not even fancy guitar/bass trade-off leads can save “Godsnake” from its predicament. There are only two other musicians involved in the band, unknowns who don’t particularly stand out, but are suited for what Newsted is trying to get across. A note of deserved praise does need to be handed out to the infectious riffs churned out on “King of the Underdogs” though.

“Metal” is not a total bust, and there’s no doubt that Newsted has the skills to pull off being a front man. It’ll be interesting to see where the next few EPs head, as he has publicly stated his intention to release a series of EPs in the next few months before the release of a full-length. Judging by what is on “Metal,” there isn’t a clear indication of what the future holds sonically for the band. That can be enthralling to some extent, but it’s also a scattershot approach that lacks a definitive picture; in other words, the best way to describe “Metal.”

Highs: "Soldierhead" is a great start to the EP, Newsted sounds great on bass and vocals, a few solid riffs on "King of the Underdogs"

Lows: Music is very scattershot, nothing matches up to the great opener, don't get a good grasp of what Newsted is looking to do with the band

Bottom line: "Soldierhead" is a hell of an opener, but "Metal" is an unfocused EP that shows glimpses of potential, but no true identity.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)