HELLYEAH's fourth studio album, "Blood For Blood", will be released on June 10 via Eleven Seven Music. The CD was helmed by producer Kevin Churko at his The Hideout Recording Studio in Las Vegas, Nevada. Churko is the Canadian musician, sound engineer, songwriter and record producer who has previously worked with OZZY OSBOURNE, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and IN THIS MOMENT, among other acts.
"Blood For Blood" is the album that HELLYEAH — featuring MUDVAYNE's Chad Gray on vocals, PANTERA's Vinnie Paul Abbott on drums and NOTHINGFACE's Tom Maxwell on guitar — has always wanted to make. "It's a defining record for HELLYEAH and for anyone on the fence," Paul declared, describing the record as "focused and with a clear direction."
After roughly eight years, three albums, countless tours as headliners and as participants on "can't-miss" festival bills and hundreds of thousands of albums sold, HELLYEAH is making their biggest and boldest statement yet with "Blood For Blood". They are going for the jugular and every song on the album clamps down and doesn't let go. They've exchanged some of the party-centric, good time sounds of past efforts for pure metallic fury and emotional introspection. The album sounds like a recharged HELLYEAH, taken up many notches.
"Blood For Blood" is easily HELLYEAH's most metallic album. It leaves a mark, thanks to songs like the angular, vengeful "DMF". There's also "Demons In The Dirt", a beast of a song birthed by the sort of anger that can't be faked; it will leave you wondering who pissed these guys off. "Gift" is dirty, rowdy rock with equal parts groove and swagger, but also possessed of the sort of punk rock energy that would make MOTÖRHEAD fans turn their heads. Then there is moodier, more contemplative fare like "Moth To The Flame" or "Hush", which connect on an emotional, cellular level, proving that you can be incredibly heavy in ways other than loud and fast.
"We still have a love affair with this band and have a lot we want to say," explained Maxwell. He relished taking on a larger songwriting role and serving as the lead guitarist, which you can hear in the album's overall sound and in every note of his playing. "That magic is there for us, still. This is the record I've always wanted to make in this band, which has so many creative forces." Gray also shared that changes made the members closer. "We leaned on each other for support and inspiration," he said.
The band opted to work with an outside producer for the first time ever, recruiting Churko for the job. "To move forward, you have to make changes," said Paul, who wrote the music in Texas with Maxwell before heading to Hideout Recording Studio in Sin City to put it to tape.
"I am used to being a producer or co-producer and I wanted to see what would happen if I backed up and let someone take the reigns, leaving me to just be a drummer," said Paul, while admitting that vocals were the one area of production to which he couldn't do proper justice. The band was happy to allow Churko to provide a fresh perspective. Given Churko's resume, which is littered with names as diverse as OZZY OSBOURNE, IN THIS MOMENT and FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, the band knew he was the man who could pull the best performance possible out of Gray. The singer himself praised that Churko had a unique way of extracting what he wanted, saying, "You can be a drill sergeant and rule through intimidation or be laid back and cool, but get it done without pressure. He rules through cool."
Overall, the album has less of an obvious southern influence, with Paul deeming it "a metal record that also has melody.It lends itself to a diverse group of people."
As the mouthpiece for the band, Gray lets out his primal scream throughout the album, enabling him to properly and fully express his emotions in the music. "We want to shut people up a little, the people who have never given HELLYEAH the time of day, for whatever reason," the singer said. "Whether you want it or not, it's undeniable. This [album] is an every night fistfight." Gray shared that he firmly believes in music as therapy and revels in helping the band's fans achieve catharsis with the music they have created.
He acknowledged the fact that the album is devoid of the party anthems that previously populated the HELLYEAH catalog. "There is not a party song on this record, which we are kind of known for," he said. Gray continued "As much as I love those songs, they put us in a certain box that I've never been comfortable in since I'm not always like that." Instead, Gray and his bandmates wanted to show a depth, breadth and range of emotions and styles.
It was important for Gray to craft songs that were heavy on multiple levels at the same time. His approach was that heavy doesn't always mean as fast and as loud as possible. He said, "For me, personally, I was going through my emotional checklist, and how I wanted to be heavy both aggressively and emotionally. I need that balance." For example, the mercurial "Moth" examines our base, animal instincts and drives. Despite knowing something is bad for you and will burn you, you still can’t pull yourself away from it.
"Black December" turns a critical eye on the year-end holiday season, and more deeply, the sadness that can permeate the end of the year. "It's a deadly month and depressing," Gray explained. "It's a hard month to get through with
Guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn of San Francisco Bay Area metallers MACHINE HEAD has posted the following message on the band's Facebook page:
"For those of you just tuning in today, in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of our fifth album, 'Through The Ashes Of Empires', I've written a multi-part story in my General Journals, today is Part 3 of the story. I've decided to do a Part 4 and 5 to 'Through The Ashes Turns 10', because I realize there is more of the story that needs to be told, so most likely on Tuesday and Thursday of next week, I'll throw them up.
"Part 3 goes into the feud that happened between Kerry King [SLAYER] and I back in 2002.
'For the record: I'm not re-telling this to start and/or dig up old shit. I love Kerry, he fuckin' rules! We hung out two nights ago when SLAYER played in San Jose, we had a blast, got HAMMERED! But 10/11 years ago? Things were different, and in order to paint an accurate picture of where our heads were at for the writing of 'Through The Ashes Of Empires', this part of the story has to be told. It played a role. Consciously or unconsciously it definitely played a role.
"In 2002, Kerry King of SLAYER and I got into a public war words over disrespectful comments he'd made about MACHINE HEAD. For over a year, I had bit my tongue in hopes that he would lay off, and just give it a rest, but he didn't, and after a particularly brutal stab at us and me in particular, I went for the jugular. I fucking roasted him. Things got ugly in a hurry in public and behind the scenes it was even worse. The feud would last for 5 years until 2007, when at theMetal Hammer Awards in London it was squashed.
"I hated every minute of it.
"To have someone who had shaped your musical life so much, who took MACHINE HEAD on their second and third tours ever, who was a former friend and mentor to me, just ripping on you… it was tough. But after a while, you have to say 'fuck this.' It doesn't matter who it is, you have to stick up for yourself. I couldn't let the things being said go unanswered. It might've gotten truly ugly, but I think we both earned each other's respect a little more in the long run. I respected him for calling us out publicly, when so many people in the music business just talk shit and plot behind people's backs, he gave his opinion and what can I say? It stung. However, once squashed, I like to think he respected me for standing my ground and protecting what was mine. Maybe it was tough love from Kerry King? Maybe, but one thing's for sure, in some ways it fueled a lot of anger in me. Maybe it worked.
"In and around this same timeframe, Kerrang! magazine had shredded us in a slew of articles and show reviews. The U.K. magazine was famous for building bands up just to tear them down. At this stage in MACHINE HEAD's career, believe me, they were in full-on tear down mode.
"I had mentioned in an earlier journal about the U.S. press and how they essentially had blacklisted us. Coverage in any magazine was just about nil, nada, zilch. To this day, we've only had one major cover story and that was back in '99 for the now-defunct Metal Maniacs. American journalists were asking me during interviews to 'apologize to our fans for'Supercharger'.'
"Tours still did well and despite what the press has repeated over and over again, our fans stood by us. Sure, there was complaints from Head Cases [MACHINE HEAD fans], often times they said them respectfully to my face, or on the Internet, but they stood by MACHINE HEAD, and the ticket sales for those tours (thankfully) proved it.
"But regardless of all that, we had hit a wall in the music business. Sure, we had just re-signed with Roadrunner in Europe but our future in the U.S. was terribly uncertain. Silently getting turned down by 35 U.S. labels... man... it was a lot of rejection. It weighed on me. I began to doubt myself.
"Other bands were talking shit; ex-band members were talking shit (and still do).
"We'd gotten a little merchandise advance, but we were living month to month and about to be broke again at any day.
"It felt like the world wanted us to stop.
"The vultures were circling.