If you call yourself a Texan metal fan, as I do, then you’ll know that the name Vinnie Paul is as close to Royalty as we’re likely to get in our Sun-ravaged State. Of course, he wrote the book (two books, actually – one on metal drumming and one on metal partying!) on modern metal with his brother Dime, Rex Rocker and Phil Anselmo in Pantera, but – and this is a kinda heresy I know – I felt the brothers lost their way a little when that band split up. As far as Vinnie’s Hellyeah project was concerned well… let’s just say I didn’t spend too much Texas time trying to figure them out.
So when I was asked if I’d like to review their new album, Welcome Home, which of course features Vinnie’s final recorded legacy, I wasn’t too sure I was the man for the job. Bro metal ain’t exactly my thing (apart, I guess,from Pantera) but I thought how bad could it be? At least I’ll get to honour a fallen hero, and I might even get a nice surprise at the same time!
And ya know what? Welcome Home ain’t nearly as bad as it coulda been. Opening track 333 is raging Vinnie at his piston-legged best, and the rest of the band (especially Chad Gray on vocals) sound like they are having a ball as they rip it up instrumentally and vocally. That’s probably the highlight of the album (apart from the heartfelt closer Skyy and Water, which is a tear-jerking farewell in ballad style to Paul that is put together with love and respect in a surprisingly touching way), but even a trad metal guy like me can appreciate the chops that go into making a record like this. Machine Head fans are gonna dig the shit out of the nu-metal tinged title track, and of course drummers are also going to be interested in hearing Vinnie Paul’s sonic last will and testament throughout the rest of the album. Black Flag Army is sure to cause mass breakouts of air drumming at the very least!
The album finishes with a fifty-three second recorded clip of the great man himself, a sort of Viv Savage style self-epitaph that seems so, so fitting given the man’s creed of good times and good music. Congratulations to Hellyeah for seeing him off in fitting , respectful fashion, and a heartfelt rock in peace from me to one of Texas metal’s all time greats.
Welcome Home is out now.