HELLYEAH announced the departure of both guitarist Greg Tribbett and bassist Bob Zilla back in February this year and chose to bring Bloodsimple’s Kyle Sanders in on bass. Following this news, it’s no wonder that the anticipation has been growing for the group’s fourth album Blood for Blood, the follow up to 2012’s Band of Brothers. Now it’s here and we’ve had chance to give it a good airing, does it get the blood pumping or simply coagulate in your ears?
The opening track, Sangre pour Sangre (Blood for Blood), is a thumping song that picks up where Band of Brothers left off. It was also the first release from this album and scored well with both new & older fans of the super-group. Following this up is one of the records stand out moments, Demons in the Dirt – where a grinding intro by guitarist Tom Maxwell gives way to a high-octane verse and juggernaut of chorus, powered by Vinnie Paul’s thunderous kit and driven by Chad Grey’s iconic cry. Soul Killer keeps the tempo high and rounds off an adrenaline fueled opening trio.
What comes next is a bit surprising, just as you think you are in for another hard hitting, pulsating song the album switches pace and delivers the first of two subtle offerings in Moth. Although slightly cliched in it’s lyrics (“like a moth to a flame”) the message here is more personal and the music much more melodic. Grey’s approach is calculated rather than chaotic, the verses are softer on the surface yet laced with frustration, this angst is then released throughout the choruses and it’s a pattern that the guitar work follows.
The next four tracks follow a similar pattern to the first quartet. Cross to Bier (Cradle of Bones) was the second single released from this album and illustrates a further extension of what Hellyeah are all about – non-stop, ass-kicking metal. If you weren’t convinced of that then skip along to the “does exactly what it says on the tin” DMF to get a dose of the groups hardcore elements. Next up is Gift, a well balanced song feeding off some of the bands groovier metal roots, it also provides the right change of pace before the second of the record’s calmer tracks. Hush is a haunting piece that travels to some dark places through Grey’s lyrics, passionately discussing the realities of abuse and the affect it can have on a person’s future life. This is where the band really comes into their own and show that they are capable of maintaining the right volume of heaviness even at an apathetic pace.
Closing out the album is Say When – a furious & forceful hit that thrashes it way from start to finish, Black December which takes a hard rock approach in its ode to honour the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell and, if you have the bonus edition (that also contains an acoustic version of Hush), Feast or Famine which provides a satisfying end to Blood for Blood.
Sadly, although there is nothing particularly wrong with any of these singles, there is nothing that makes them stand out individually. Which is really the problem with this album – it lacks that killer edge to set it apart from previous records. That doesn’t take anything away for it though, this is a solid effort from the southern super-group and the line up changes seem to have worked when it comes to the creative process. Blood for Blood is a very focused album that throws a few curve balls at you along the way and as a follow up to Band of Brothers it’s a logical next step – it has more variations in pace and style with some fantastic individual efforts from each band member.
Ultimately though, it still feels like the band isn’t quite there yet. A few more tracks to beef up the offering would have helped, but what this album really needs is just one or two killer anthems, like BoB’s Drink, Drank, Drunk, to take Hellyeah to that next level.