Review Summary: Unden!ably bad.
HELLYEAH are a somewhat infamous little super group; a Marmite situation where you’ll either gel with what Chad and co. have created over the past decade, or detest every second of it. The group originally contained Mudvayne’s Gregg and Chad, as well as Vinnie Paul from Pantera, and Nothingface’s Jerry Montana and Tom Maxwell. During the time frame of the group’s creation it is a given that things were a little raw due to the untimely death of Dimebag Darrell in 2004, which left Vinnie a little reluctant to do the project at first. However, the point I’m making here is that the project was made as a homage to the fallen Legend. The band name and overall aesthetics for the band centred around that Texan vibe, which is absolutely fine -- albeit not to my palate -- but the problem I have is that I’ve always been a little perplexed by whether the use of these elements is satire, or if they’re 100% serious with it. The disturbing truth is that I believe these tropes are used in a very serious way; and with a band name like HELLYEAH, it’s difficult to really take the group seriously. Upon hearing the band name and looking at the groups image and album covers for the first time, one would lump them in the same ballpark as Electric Six, Tenacious D or Bloodhound Gang for having a rather playful, goofy shtick attached to their music. But once again, there is a zeal and conviction in what they are creating. This is my biggest turn off to the band, and one I think many will agree is why the band have such a heavy divide -- barring the obvious fact that the members originally come from different areas of the metal scene.
Taking all that out of the equation, this band should have been a simple bow of respect for Darrell with its debut, before being kindly put to rest. But here we are 10 years in, several affecting member changes later and 5 albums under their belt; it’s rather eye-opening to see when you lay it all out, and ironically something that looks like the band have lost clear sight of why they started the band to begin with. In 2016, HELLYEAH’s fifth studio outing is one quite different to the Texan swagger previous: their sound is one I can only describe as textbook generic metal 101. And for intents and purposes, they’ve always been a generic groove metal band, but the gimmick they once started off with is long gone. Think of Mudvayne’s weakest LPs, the mundane chugs and dull songwriting contained on The New Game
and you’re halfway there on what to expect from Unden!able
. The album kicks off in fantastically cringe-inducing fashion, as Chad’s lyrics STILL go on about his disdain for Mudvayne fans sending constant hate mail his way, and hears him screaming to “just deal with it”. I say still, because he used this topic to death on Mudvayne’s last album, and it just shows how dry the creative well is in this band.
Even though I’ve stated that they’ve shifted their style to a much, [much] more tried and test arena, this actually works in the band’s favour for me. It’s a little bit easier to sit through a HELLYEAH record without feeling the need to put my fist through the speakers. Songs don't feel quite as exaggerated, stupid or ridiculous as they once were. That's not to say this is masterpiece, just that the subdued tone of the record dulls the tacky themes that plagued the band previous. Vocal and guitar melodies are painfully average, but don’t cross the line of irritation, and from time to time there is some cheeky rhythm ideas that make songs like ”Be Unden!able” and “X” bearable to sit through. The albums production is of the chunky variety, and this certainly helps the albums case as well. But make no mistake, even though the band has progressed musically -- or regressed depending on how you look at it, if you’re a fan -- this album is still a shark sandwich (Spinal Tap joke). There isn’t a single thing on here that makes the record stand out from the millions of other metal records out there. The music is average at the best of times, and Chad does a bang up job of keeping his vocals average and his lyrics consistently awful. In fact, I have an amusing amount of respect for Chad unintentionally keeping his poetry at dire lows for the last 8 years. If you’re a fan of the band, it’s difficult to see if you’ll like this LP to their earlier work, but either way, I think this is an album best left alone.