HELLYEAH - Starland Ballroom, New Jersey
Tue, 29 Jan 2008 14:18:36
Whoever came up with the name "Balls, Volume and Strength," for the recent tour with headliners HELLYEAH, was onto something. Add Machine Head, Nonpoint and Bury Your Dead to the mix, and a dangerous concoction of fierce, ear-bleeding insanity ensues as a perfect recipe to live up to the name. At least in New Jersey.
The four heavy hitters were welcomed with horns up and headbanging fury, but with Machine Head and HELLYEAH eliciting the craziest responses. The energy at Starland Ballroom was insatiable enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up seconds before Machine Head took the stage. When they finally did, they shredded through their set. Opener "Imperium" set a forceful tone for the following forty minutes. Phil Demmel’s charismatic guitar styles ranged from classic metal rips to an edgier, crunchier sound. With every scowl, the audience ate his playing up. If there is one thing to be said about Machine Head singer Robb Flynn, it's that he has certainly outdone himself. Over a long career, he earned fan respect, and got his reward this night as fans sang along to his every word. He blazed through "Aesthetics of Hate," while bruised bodies hit the floor during "Davidian." All in all, the crowd’s reaction to their set was an all-encompassing spark that would perfectly lead to the fire that is HELLYEAH.
If the Phoenix always rises then Vinne Paul Abbott is the heavy metal equivalent. His drumming style has always remained a magnum force, whether in Pantera or Damageplan, and it was refreshing to the jam-packed audience that he still hasn't missed a beat. Vocalist Chad Gray's vicious energetic performance when plowing through "Matter of Time" was the ultimate track to gear up the audience for the band's whirlwind grooves. "Nausea" wasn't prefaced with some verbose description of the song. "It's about drinking. Plain and simple," Gray boasted, before plowing through the sludgy tune, along with "Alcohaulin' Ass." Their rendition of Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy" wasn't much different than other bands', but watching Bobzilla, Gray and Greg Tribbett jump around the tight stage was enough entertainment to make up for the choice of song. "Goddamn" gave the audience with a much-needed metal wake-up call, while "Thank You," the most meaningful track on their self-titled debut album, a tribute to the lost lives of the band members, also seemed like the most significant live.
It was not only a breath of fresh air to see Vinnie Paul behind a set of drums, wailing away at what he does best, but to see a band in front of him that represent a true metal union. And from Starland Ballroom to HELLYEAH: Thank you.