Album Review: Hellyeah’s Welcome Home

  • Axl Rosenberg

Sentimentality is a powerful drug with a tremendous capability to cloud one’s judgment, and Welcome Home, the sixth album from the supergroup Hellyeah, inarguably arrives floating atop a cloud of sentimentality: it’s the last recording legendary drummer Vinnie Paul completed before he died last year.

Still, I don’t think it’s just sentimental thinking that leads me to believe Welcome Home is Hellyeah’s best album to date — I think the timing of Paul’s death and Hellyeah’s sudden influx of good song ideas is just a sad coincidence. Welcome Home isn’t a great album, but its pros outweigh its cons, and it strikes a pretty decent balance between vulgar displays of power and the band’s arguably more mainstream instincts.

In point of fact, there are a fair helping of Pantera-esque riffs here. Unsurprisingly, Welcome Home‘s strongest songs are the ones that sound most like Paul’s old band, such as “333” and “Black Flag Army.” But even tracks which dilute the formula with more arena-rockish elements, like “At Wick’s End,” and “Bury You,” work fairly well — which is to say, they will certainly get stuck in your head after listening to them (although the chorus of “Bury You” does contain the phrase “Drive it like you stole it,” which is just, like, come on, bruh). The title track, a power semi-ballad, and “Skyy and Water,” an actual ballad-ballad, are also both winners.

But Welcome Home has some real duds, too. These are usually the result of — surprise! — the band indulging their penchants for nu-metal and pop a bit too much. “Oh My God,” “I’m the One,” and “Perfect” are all guilty of this to varying degrees, but the prime offender is “Boy,” a rap-rock song with a chorus reminiscent, in vocal pattern if not lyrical content, of a limerick, right down to having five lines. Combined with some very late ’90s-sounding music and vocalist Chad Gray’s rapping over the verses, and the track becomes downright intolerable.

Thing is, Hellyeah have made albums that are entirely intolerable, and Welcome Home certainly is not that. It’s easy to understand why fans would dig this album, even if you’re not a fan yourself. And, yes, it’s nice to have those few songs where Vinnie Paul’s drumming sounds like Vinnie Paul’s drumming. As far as a cowboy from hell’s ride off into the sunset goes, it’s not a bad one.

Hellyeah’s Welcome Home comes out September 27 on Eleven Seven. Listen to the track “Black Flag Army” here and pre-order the album here. The band goes on tour with new drummer Roy Mayorga starting in November; buy tickets here.

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