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.
There are few noises as powerful as the sound of confidence. After a decade of trials and tribulations, hit singles and music industry politics, 10 Years have emerged stronger than ever, freed by their own independence (both creatively and professionally), with a hard rock sound as steadfastly resilient as the salt-of-the-Earth fans relentlessly packing clubs to see them play. A 10 Years album is a celebration of strength through adversity.
From Birth To Burial, the second full-length platter issued through the band’s own Palehorse imprint, is the most diverse, dark and unabashedly heavy offering from the post-grunge songsmiths. 10 Years blessed the world with Top 10 radio anthems like “Shoot It Out,” “Beautiful” and their breakthrough single, the Alt-Rock #1 “Wasteland.” From Birth To Burial represents the sum total of a decade of experience, channeled through exceptionally authentic hard rock music as timeless as it is loud.
“This album is about a decade long journey and all of the emotions that come along with it,” explains frontman Jesse Hasek. “It’s easy to become jaded. But then there’s the question: Will you will standup and fight? Are you still alive or is it all over? Do you focus on the positive? From Birth To Burial is a rollercoaster ride through all of that.”
The best bands, from Nirvana to Soundgarden, follow their passions and invite the world to follow with them. 10 Years does not pander or beg. It’s music of defiance and truth. Like Tool, Deftones, Thrice, Brand New, Radiohead or even Björk, these Southern gents successfully flirted with commercialism but ultimately blazed their own path, bucking trends in favor of their own creative muse, building a dedicated following in the process.
The title track serves as cathartic therapy, decrying the “hot today, gone tomorrow” mentality in pop culture that destroys relationships, families and people. It’s about the collision of art and commerce and never forsaking one’s values. “From Birth To Burial” is a call to arms, encouraging listeners to overcome whatever obstacles appear in life. “Miscellanea” tells a story through abstract, ambiguous wordplay, similar to the lyrical musings of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle. “Triggers and Tripwires” is by far the heaviest thing 10 Years has ever put on a record, undoubtedly a crowd pleaser for years to come.
While the Knoxville, Tennessee rock band has enjoyed much success at radio and even experienced major airplay toward the end of the broadcast era for videos, 10 Years built their foundation earning fans night after night on the road, putting in the sweat, the energy and the hours, often alongside rock giants like Linkin Park, Korn and Deftones.
It was roughly 10 years ago when the band set out for California to record their first major label release, The Autumn Effect. Universal/Republic signed the band on the strength of their two prior DIY releases, most notably Killing All That Holds You, which welcomed frontman Jesse Hasek. The Autumn Effect debuted atop Billboard’s Heatseekers Album chart and went on to sell over 500,000 copies in the United States, driven largely by the singles “Wasteland,” “Through The Iris” and “Waking Up.”
Division (2008) followed, featuring co-production work from Rick Parashar (Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam). 10 Years worked with Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, 3 Doors Down) on Feeding The Wolves (2010), which cracked the Top 15 on the Billboard 200. Hasek, Ryan “Tater” Johnson (guitar/vocals) and Brian Vodinh (guitar/drums) survived the industry trenches to emerge triumphantly with Minus The Machine (2012), an album produced entirely without major label meddling or false hype.
Hasek says setting up Palehorse with distribution originally through Warner Music Group and now through Megaforce Records has offered 10 Years the best of both worlds. They have the freedom to create without a bunch of interlopers, combined with the distribution and marketing access of a major label. “We had a good ride on Universal/Republic. They helped us get out there and to get exposure. But in that environment, you’re always competing with what is current and the label is often trying to manipulate your sound. And we just want to be ourselves.”
As Hasek explains, it’s all about capturing the same fire as when 10 Years started and creating the type of band they grew up loving themselves. “We surpassed anything we had ever expected. That is success to me. I don’t know what I mean to these people, but I know what certain musicians mean to me. I value these really pivotal records and songs in my life; and if that’s what we are to someone else? That’s amazing!”
Black Map (stylized as BL∀CK MAP) is an American post-hardcore supergroup based out of San Francisco, California. The trio consists of Ben Flanagan on bass and vocals, Chris Robyn on drums and Mark Engles on guitar. The band most recently has toured with Chevelle, Bush, and Circa Survive.
Black Map formed following a hiatus from the members’ respective bands: Dredg (guitarist Mark Engles), Far (drummer Chris Robyn), and The Trophy Fire (vocalist/guitarist Ben Flanagan). The band’s first release was a four song EP, titled Driver, released in February 2014. On October 27, 2014, the band’s debut LP, …And We Explode, was released through Minus Head Records. Their second full length album, In Droves, was released on March 10, 2017, through their current label EOne.