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Review: Newsted’s Metal is Really Boring

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There seems to be this kind of myth that if Jason Newsted had been allowed to make more contributions to Metallica during his tenure with that band, the band wouldn’t have begun to suck so bad. As far as I can tell, this myth is based entirely upon some comments he made in the documentary Some Kind of Monster, and his very brief involvement with Voivod. But there’s no real evidence to support this; I mean, the dude played on two of the three worst Metallica records, and the one arguably good ‘Tallica studio album on which he appears, The Black Album, only features one songwriting credit from the bassist. For all we know, he thought “I Disappear” was the best song ever.

And so Metal, the debut EP from the new project for which Newsted is also the namesake, is, in a very odd way, Jason Newsted’s first real chance to prove himself. (Unless you count the one Flotsam and Jetsam album he played on… in 1986.) Unfortunately, he fails.

Everything about Newsted’s Metal, from both the band (or “band”) name to the EP’s title and album art to the music and lyrics (face-palm inducing sample: “A lie has no feet/ It can’t stand on its own”), is completely lacking in imagination. It’s not bad, exactly, so much as there’s just absolutely nothing creative about it. The riffs are generic; as a vocalist, Newsted sounds like a second-rate Chuck Billy; and did I mention the lyrics? (Another face-palm inducing sample: “No war is good, no war is holy.” Thanks, Mother Theresa.) If Metal is better than Death Magnetic, it’s only because Newsted had the good sense not to make every song ridiculously long. Although the two tracks that over six minutes are both pushing their luck, especially since they don’t really end up going anywhere they didn’t reach by the first chorus.

Truth is, the album feels very Load-y in its dependence on lowest-common-denominator Bud Light rock. Opener “Soldierhead” is the only song on Metal that even really warrants that title; most of it is slower, groovier hard rock that doesn’t feel all that off from “King Nothing” (which, I admit, is one of the more tolerable tracks on those releases).

Actually, listening to Metal, the idea that Newsted thought “I Disappear” was the best song ever really does not seem that inconceivable. Bummer.

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