Music doesn't always have to be brilliant. It doesn't necessarily need to be deep, revelatory, or even challenging. Sometimes it's enough to drop the needle and have good, boneheaded time, as Hellyeah set out to prove on "Stampede," their second collection of tunes about groovin', boozin', banging and cruisin'.
It's impossible to talk about Hellyeah without at least mentioning the line-up, which includes vocalist Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett (Mudvayne), Vinnie Paul (Pantera), bassist Bob Zilla (Damageplan), and guitarist Tom Maxwell (uhh...Nothingface). The result of this brain trust is fairly prototypical groove metal with a Southern flair and a cowboy attitude. Mostly consisting of predictably brawny, bruising tracks, "Stampede" has some moments that attempt to leaven the testosterone explosion, like the sort-of acoustic attempt at almost-balladry, "Hell of a Time." The band mainly concerns itself, though, with big-time swagger and hard-charging heaviness.
Overall, this is a marked improvement over the band's debut, but that's the difference between getting nailed by a slapshot on the cup or taking it directly to the beanbag. Believe me, I know. At the very least, there's nothing on here as brain-cell deficient as "Alcohaulin' Ass" or a song called "Hellyeah" from an album called "Hellyeah" with a chorus of "Hellyeah!" played by the band named Hellyeah.
A wildly divisive band, Hellyeah boasts impressive record sales, but there's also a goodly chunk of metaldom that slags on these guys unmercifully. The main gripe seems to be "ZOMG Y iz Vinnie Paul in this shiz it sux next 2 Pantera WTF?!?!" Well no shit, cyber-nerd. If Vinnie Paul really wanted to be in a band that sounded exactly like Pantera, he would just join Throwdown. No, the real problem is an unfortunately disproportionate ratio of eye-rolling stuff to good stuff. But "Stampede" is better than the debut by a Texas mile, so make of that what you will. Music doesn't always have to be smart or soulful, but sometimes it helps.