Over the years, Hellyeah have unfortunately succumbed to the idea that metal supergroups are, and always will be, bad ideas in the long run. Sure, a couple of albums made way for a little success in the mainstream, but as time has progressed, it seems Hellyeah have come closer to falling off the radar. It could have something to do with the band making arguably the most annoyingly simplistic, bare-bones groove metal music ever, but they have had their moments of glory, few and far between as they are.
2016 sees the band’s return and the release of new album “Undeniable”, which at times actually convinces the listener Hellyeah are heading in a fresher musical direction. Whilst this is only really supported by the album’s softer songs (‘Human’, ‘Leap of Faith’, ‘Love Falls’), they are in fact the stand-out highlights of an album which, otherwise, generally falls flat when it shouldn’t. The album begins with some of the heaviest songs known in Hellyeah’s repertoire: ‘X’ demonstrates angry emotions via choppy, sludgy guitar work and bitter vocal presence from frontman Chad Gray, and ‘Scratch a Lie’ unfolds as a maniacal anthem to please fans of Hellyeah’s older material. Once the title track begins to play however, the listener sadly gets convinced that the rest of the album becomes a bit of a miserable downfall. ‘Be Undeniable!’ (which weirdly enough shares a similar-sounding intro to ‘Lucky Animals’ from DTP) demonstrates a woeful, lacking instrumental performance, and Gray’s nasally attempts at rapping lyrics left, right and centre really grate on you after a short while. ‘Blood Plague’, the cover of ‘I Don’t Care Anymore’ and ‘Live or Die’ are wholly underwhelming and completely devoid of any emotional impact the listener would expect after the mainstream-centric energy of ‘Human’ and ‘Leap of Faith’. Unfortunately, this boring triumvirate of filler material goes on to remind listeners why Hellyeah aren’t exactly frontrunners of the groove metal sub-genre-matter of fact, they’re one of the more forgettable groups in that particular category.
That said, we should focus on the album’s more successful moments where duly noted. The more melodic songs, as aforementioned, are “Undeniable”‘s memorable strong-points. ‘Human’ and ‘Leap of Faith’ almost remind you of a more melancholic Disturbed in their heyday, and the obvious attempt at delivering melodic hooks works quite promisingly. After the woeful triumvirate of boring filler-based material, the album gives us a strong one-two punch to finish things off properly. ‘Love Falls’ is almost beautiful, in the same way that Crowbar’s ‘Repulsive in its Splendid Beauty’ was for its respective record. The heaviness is still apparent, but it demonstrates a more beautiful composition settled by an almost orchestral mid-section which goes on to complete the song’s progression. Album closer ‘Grave’ borders on epic as it definitively represents Hellyeah’s more powerful instrumental performances at their peaks, rather than the bottom of their collective inspiration. What ties all these obvious highlights together is Chad Gray’s more or less successful clean vocal delivery, which shows no hint of a nasally, uncomfortable voice. It actually works, especially as an ideal accompaniment to the surrounding instrumental vigour.
So essentially, and as with Hellyeah’s other albums, “Undeniable” is half-good, and half-badly average. The good moments are very memorable slices of the better side of radio rock and the heavier side of groove metal, whereas elsewhere the album proves to be as average as Hellyeah can get. “Undeniable” won’t be an album to take Hellyeah into more mainstream or successful territory, but it will go on to be a notable record when discussing the band’s potential change from a well-trodden sound, to that of a more sensible and comfortable one.
Released: 3rd June, 2016.
- ! (Intro)
- Scratch a Lie
- Be Unden!able
- Leap of Faith
- Blood Plague
- I Don’t Care Anymore (Phil Collins Cover)
- Live or Die
- Love Falls
- 10-34 (Interlude)