HELLYEAH’s previous album, 2014’s Blood for Blood, was the album metal fans and critics were waiting for HELLYEAH to make, based on the revered metal pedigree of the individual members. Such an artistic achievement—the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock album chart— meant the band set the bar incredibly high. HELLYEAH —whose core is comprised of singer Chad Gray, guitarist Tom Maxwell, drummer Vinnie Paul, Christian Brady (guitar) and Kyle Sanders (bass)— do not disappoint with their fifth album UNDEN!ABLE.
“We turned a corner with Blood for Blood and we wanted to continue that path,” Paul states. “It’s much heavier and darker, and we take it to another extreme.” The album also fosters a sense of community and the notion that “we’re all in this together” among the metal community we are part of. The upside down “i” in the title is an exclamation point — a subtle indicator of how metal fans live their lives against the grain for their entire daily existence. “It doesn’t matter how old you are — you are always a metal kid,” Chad Gray declares, referencing himself and fans as one.
With the 2007 self-titled debut, HELLYEAH broke the ice, introducing the world to a band comprised of familiar faces who played in influential bands with signature sounds. 2010’s Stampede showed off a more pleasure-seeking side of HELLYEAH. 2012’s Band of Brothers was marked by internal change and further experimentation, while Blood for Blood found the band reaching the summit of brutality, creativity, and artfully mined piss and vinegar. UNDEN!ABLE is the logical next step and it’s frontloaded with songs that crackle with a palpable industrial aggro energy. As guitarist Maxwell succinctly says, “It’s belligerent and brutal, with peaks and valleys that bring you up and down, emotionally and lyrically.”
One reason it’s so belligerent and brutal? The time crunch that came along with crafting the album. The band spent 18 glorious but grueling months on the road in support of Blood for Blood and was given exactly two weeks (!!!) off before it had to start working on UNDEN!ABLE. The pressure and lack of recess awakened a sleeping giant within Maxwell. There was literally no time to waste and he marshalled his emotions for inspiration.
Without any time to decompress, Maxwell came out of the gates in sniper mode, admitting there was “no time for demo-itis!” He confessed, “I was pissed, agitated, and distraught. In the long run, it helped. There was so much intensity in the frustration.” Paul notes that the band “took no time off so that we didn’t get complacent. We knew there was a window of opportunity.” It may not have been optimal at the time, but it yielded a maximized result. “We know we did great, broken ankles and all,” he states. HELLYEAH’s usual formula remained unaltered when it came to the recording process. They demoed at Paul’s home studio in Dallas, TX before writing and recording with Kevin Churko in Las Vegas.
UNDEN!ABLE hosts redemptive, but throttling songs that will “scratch your soul,” according to Gray. “X” is fast, furious and “over the top,” says Paul. “It is something that metal fans need.” It’s expected to become an instant fan favorite. The more contemplative “Human” is moving, yet monstrous. The title track surges with raw energy and industrial crunch. “Love Falls” is a rhythmic and sultry departure for the band, which measures pain and anger equally, while “STARTARIOT” is nothing short of a fist-pumping, fuel-burning heavy metal epic.
UNDEN!ABLE is a complete work, including a cover that is the definitive visual matching the album’s sonic wrath. The artwork was inspired by Chad Gray and designed by William “Wombat” Felch, who the band discovered through his artistic interpretations of HELLYEAH songs on YouTube, and who Paul labeled “like a new member of the band.” The eye is emblematic of the metal community and the kids who find their kindred spirits in HELLYEAH. “The eyes are the portal to the soul,” Gray says. “There is more extremity, so I wanted it to represent looking into the eye of someone who is a member of the metal community being cast out. You always feel like a fighter. So we created this eye and the exclamation point [in the title] as the stamp on this madness. You are looking into the soul of a metalhead.”
Overall, there’s a surging current of hunger in UNDEN!ABLE. The members have had success in the past, but they’re not satisfied with all they have done. “It’s all I know,” Paul muses about what keeps him manning the kit and making new music, despite a career so illustrious that no one would fault him if he chose to hang up the sticks. “I could have quit and could be playing golf. Being a traveling musician? That fuels me. I have a true passion and belief in HELLYEAH and heavy metal music.”
Gray concludes, “We’re all in this together. We are metal fans first and foremost. We play off each other every night with our metal family. As a metal kid, I’d go to shows because I needed the release. Being on the other side now, I need this as bad as the fans do. I need to hit that deck every day and give everything I can.” The divide between HELLYEAH and their fans has been erased with UNDEN!ABLE. It’s an album made for the metal community, by the metal community.
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