He was the "metal" in Metallica for years and years. He added credibility to a pretty much dead band like Voivod, as well as finances so they could produce a couple of fine albums along the way. Hell, he was the creative force behid Flotsam & Jetsam; a band that I love but clearly wasn't the same after DOOMSDAY FOR THE DECEIVER when he left. And yet, with all his heralded accomplishments, Jason Newsted somehow finds himself at a crossroads where he has to come out and prove himself and his metal merits once again. Newsted told me last month that he keeps the mindset always that he's only as good as his next record, no matter what the past has proven. Clearly, this is one guy that could rest on his laurels and his mountain of money and do whatever he wants. With all that said though, he returns with a simply smoldering EP that's as strong as anything he's done in the past.
METAL may not be the most creatively named EP out there, much like naming a band after yourself doesn't really show a lot of creative reach either. That said though, it is simple and makes it's point. No one that is a metal fan doesn't know who Newsted is. No one that simply picks up this EP won't know what is contained on a disc called METAL. Regardless of where you stand on either of these two points, you aren't going to be disappointed. Over the course of four songs, Newsted prove themselves worthy in any driving metal circles. From the surprisingly socially conscious opener "Soldierhead" on, it's clear that the old school attitude is still very much intact with Jason Newsted. This song just screams it's way into your head. As a vocalist, Jason Newsted will never be mistaken for classic Geoff Tate or Rob Halford, but his down and dirty, spit in your face growls are the perfect match for his raw edged music he's creating. What's interesting is how much METAL pulls from several of Newsted's previous projects. Songs like "Godsnake" have a lot of Voivod-ish grooves in it, as well as some very Papa Wheelie-like fuzzed out guitar provided by Jesse Farnsworth. Other songs, like this EP's best song "King Of The Underdogs", has a thick groove and soul much like Metallica's "The God That Failed" from his era in the band. In short, these four songs just kick ass in the purest, no bullshit metal fashion which you would hope and expect that anything Jason Newsted is associated with would sound like.
PITRIFF RATING - 90/100 - This loses points for being short, and for some fairly lame artwork. Musically, this is as close to perfect as it comes for a metalhead like me. A word of advice for many of you, this sounds immense in headphones on an iPod when cranked all the way up. Really, is there any other way to listen to this? Newsted's METAL is an asskicker!