I wasn’t going to review Welcome Home for a couple of reasons – mainly that I’m so pushed for time and have a huge stack of other albums to get through, and I knew it would be getting plenty of media attention anyway. But… it’s just so bloody good that I had to rattle off just a short review to encourage you to give it a go even if you’ve not latched onto the band before.
The main news regarding the album is that it features the last recorded work of Vinnie Paul who passed away a little over a year ago now. He’d laid down every track before he passed away, and the band realised that they couldn’t leave this to gather dust. The album should be and would be finished. Explains guitarist Tom Maxwell:
We were dealing with the shock of Vinnie passing and we realised that all his drum tracks were finished, everything, which was a pretty surreal moment, ‘cause we realised he left it for us to finish. We wound up going back to Vegas which was really hard to do as we were still just reeling from the funeral and just losing him, but we managed to get through it and finish the guitars and the bass tracks. Then Chad went in there and literally was left to his own devices to finish the record, so that was rough.
Listening to it now, completed, it’s a shame as Vinnie would have really loved this record and he would have been super proud of it.
Thing is, I reckon he’s right. This is, in my own view, the best album Hellyeah have released. While I’ve loved a handful of songs on each of their previous albums, the whole package has always had a couple of duffers, or just songs that didn’t last. I got tired of them after a few/few dozen listens. Welcome Home absolutely rammed itself into my head after the first listen. Opener “333” is brilliant, “Oh My God” is wonderfully heavy and the title track pulls as much from The Beatles as it does from the band’s own style.
And this eclectic mix is the album – and Hellyeah’s – strength. There’s too much variety for things to get boring, while at the same time the band have a sound of their own which runs through the middle of everything. There are absolute fist-pumpers on here, like “Black Flag Army”, and then there’s the stock ballad in “Skyy and Water” which is without a doubt the best “light” song the band have ever recorded. It’s a tribute to Vinnie, yet doesn’t feature any drums, and I’ve put the video for it below. An unusual choice to “sell” the album to you, given it stands out on Welcome Home due to it being so mellow but the video’s just incredible.
But keep listening. The final track, “Irreplaceable”, is 30 seconds of dead air followed by a very inspirational quote courtesy of the dearly departed himself. A wonderful, wonderful way to end a beast of an album, and indeed a chapter in the band’s existence.
Welcome Home is out on September 27th