Throughout my life, I have always appreciated different styles of music. I listened to a lot of classic rock with my parents when I was a kid but have always been drawn to the heavier side and, in stereotypical 90s teenage fashion, my Walkman was usually spinning one of three albums: The Black Album (Metallica), Nevermind (Nirvana) or Vulgar Display of Power (Pantera). To me, no three albums define heavy music and the 90s better than these. Pantera would break up due to internal conflict in 2003, with drummer Vinnie Paul and his brother, Dimebag Darrell, forming Damageplan. During a show in 2004, Dimebag was murdered on stage. Paul was not sure he would ever return to music. In 2006, Chad Gray (Mudvayne) convinced Paul to end his hiatus and help him put together a supergroup, and HELLYEAH was born.
Vinnie Paul passed away last June. That loss shook the metal community in the same way the loss of his brother did in 2004. Paul was a ‘godfather-like’ figure in the community and it was not uncommon to hear stories of him embracing and giving advice to up-and-coming artists. He knew his legacy had a meaning to metal and embraced it. Paul laid down all the drums before his untimely passing (minus one track, but more to come on that). The band thought on it and moved forward to release Welcome Home on September 27, 2019 via Eleven Seven Music, to honor Paul. While touring in support, they brought along Ray Mayorga (Stone Sour/Soulfly) to fill in for the late musician, as best as anyone ever could.
The song on Welcome Home that doesn’t feature Paul on drums is “Skyy and Water.” This song was written during production as a tribute to Paul and there are absolutely no drums present. The song is very emotional and features quotes from the man himself. I get chills every time I listen to the song. The analogy of “where the sky meets the water” is a reference to the afterlife, the spot on the horizon where you can’t tell where the ocean meets the sunset. Gray also jokingly adds that Skyy Vodka and water was Vinnie’s drink of choice. Equally as crushing emotionally is the “final track” titled “Irreplaceable” which is 45 seconds of silence followed by a classic quote from Paul.
The rest of the album does not disappoint. “333” kicks the album off with the intensity that HELLYEAH has brought for years. A screeching yell with a powerful beat pushes the song forward at a feverish pace. Gray has a very unique voice and Paul brings his signature style of complicated beats cut with half-time, intense fills and transitions. The title track “Welcome Home” is slower-paced with a huge chorus and a much wider range and overall appeal. The chorus is over-the-top and grabs your attention, staying heavy even at a slower tempo. The latest single on the record, “Black Flag Army” is one of the most unique tracks on the record. It is a more slow-paced, mellow track that has an absolutely insane heavy, crushing chorus.
My favorite track on the album is “Bury You.” This song has an intensity to it, highlighted by the drums crashing in perfect syncopation with the heavy vocals leading into an unrelenting chorus. “Boy” is another intense, heavy track that starts off with a KoRn-like intro with cymbal taps and a creepy laugh and really showcases Gray’s talent and diversity with some fast lyrics.
There will never be another Vinnie Paul, or another Dimebag Darrell for that matter, but HELLYEAH will live on and continue to honor both of their legacies through their music. Whether you are a longtime fan of HELLYEAH, Pantera or the Abbott brothers make sure you give Welcome Home a listen. And keep a box of tissues close for the end… *I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying.