Moving on after the loss of a band member is a challenging endeavor. Whether that colleague abruptly quit, was fired, or parted ways amicably, the task at hand of pushing forward as a focused unit is not easy. Having said that, moving on after the untimely death of a band member is a much more emotional undertaking given that person is often thought of as a close friend and a part of your family. For Texas Groove Metal rockers HELLYEAH, nothing hits closer to home for Vocalist Chad Gray, Bassist Kyle Sanders, and Guitarists Tom Maxwell as well as Christian Brady following the sudden death of Drummer Vinnie Paul.
A band staple from virtually the beginning, Vinnie Paul joined HELLYEAH in 2006, helping add brute firepower to HELLYEAH’s eponymous 2007 debut album. No surprise, Vinnie Paul’s credibility having drummed for Heavy Metal gods Pantera and his trademark style garnered the Hellyeah LP critical acclaim. An impressive landing, Hellyeah hit the Billboard Top 200 hard, debuting at No. 9. Reaping the rewards, it seemed HELLYEAH were on top of the world. Sadly, Vinnie Paul passed away on June 22, 2018 from heart disease at the age of 54. A shock to his band and fans alike, HELLYEAH was in the midst of recording their next album and the band now lay stricken with grief over the loss of their longtime brother Vinnie Paul. Despite this tragedy, Gray and company were determined to finish the album in memory of their fallen comrade whose undying spirit ignited a fire in the four remaining members of HELLYEAH.
It is with great honor that HELLYEAH announce the release of their sixth studio album, Welcome Home, slated to drop on Friday, September 27th, 2019 via Eleven Seven Music. Embodying so much more meaning than just eleven new tracks, Welcome Home serves as Vinnie Paul’s final bow as the late drummer had completed all of his drum work prior to his passing. When speaking about his initial feelings to continue on, Gray explains that he spoke to Vinnie in his own way and said: “I’m gonna finish this because I love you, I respect you, and this is your last work. I HAVE to finish this. As hard as it’s gonna be, I’m gonna finish this.“ That they did, as HELLYEAH would go on to complete Welcome Home alongside Producer Kevin Churko who also produced HELLYEAH’s last two albums, 2014’s Blood for Blood and 2016’s Unden!able.
Getting down to business, Welcome Home kicks off in true Groove Metal fashion via three taps of a hi-hat which sets alight a heavy squash of sound and a true to character HELLYEAH formula. In your face action, Welcome Home goes off with a bang and nothing makes you feel the fire inside of HELLYEAH than the bad influence of the slow and deep “Oh My God” with good follow-ups by “Welcome Home” and “I’m the One.” Powering on, a song like “Black Flag Army” is packed with headbanging energy, flying the flag for sludgy Metal. Then, “At Wick’s End” seers in a melody crawling like a spider on your skin.
Something more, “Perfect” gives a late 1990’s/early 2000’s Rock feel, “Bury You” casts the final stone, and “Boy” is a man who cannot be held down. Coming into their own, HELLYEAH crafted “Skyy and Water” as a profound tribute piece to Vinnie Paul. Turning to what he knows best, Maxwell wrote the music for the tender acoustic ballad the day after Vinnie Paul died. As an outlet for their pain and anguish, HELLYEAH penned a fitting good-bye and thank you note to Vinnie Paul with lyrics like “Where the skyy meets the water, I see you…”
What more can be said about an album like Welcome Home and the circumstances of the material’s fruition? At the core, Welcome Home serves as a fitting tribute to the late Vinnie Paul, delivering his final thunderous drum licks on album cuts that when turned up to full volume will surely rattle the heavens. For anyone wondering what the future holds for HELLYEAH, the surviving members have hired Stone Sour’s Roy Mayorga to fill-in on drums. Yes, you heard it! HELLYEAH plan to continue on and will tour in support of Welcome Home for one reason and one reason only, because Vinnie would not have it any other way. Fans of HELLYEAH will want to indulge in this one as Cryptic Rock gives Welcome Home 4 out of 5 stars.