Jasta – Jasta (2011)

Posted: July 22, 2011 in Music

As one of metal’s most popular chest-pounders, Jamey Jasta just can’t seem to sit still. Being one of the most energetic frontmen in music, Jasta has built a career on writing mosh-inducing, scream-along anthems with his band Hatebreed. But he’s far from a one-trick pony. Jasta is in another up-and-coming band with Crowbar’s Kurt Windstein – the sludge metal act Kingdom of Sorrow – and has been all over the place of late lending his vocals in supporting guest appearances (most recently with Straight Line Stitch and comedian/metalhead Brian Posehn.)

Most musicians would save, print and close that type of resume, but not Jamey. On top of everything else, he owns Stillborn Records, the label that he opened a few years back, as well as his own clothing line in Hatewear. Burning the candles at both ends like this, you would think it would be time for Jasta to take a bit of a break and enjoy his success.

But those types of thoughts seem to escape Jasta, as not only is he spending his summer touring the Mayhem Festival with Kingdom of Sorrow, but he’s about to add a solo release to his already solid list of albums.

Due July 26th, Jamey has put together 14 tracks, that – by his declaration – have been in the works for the last few years. Jasta has continued working on these songs, never feeling they were the right sound for either Hatebreed or Kingdom, and instead let them build and mature through constant tooling and noodling. The time has come, though, to unleash these lions – and with the help of several of metal’s uber-superstars, the self-titled Jasta is ready to roar.

“Walk the Path Alone” starts the slam-fest with Jamey bellowing out a near ten-second scream, and pummels along – sounding ALMOST like Hatebreed, but something a bit more sincere and heavy. The breakdown here is intense as fuck, and for an opener, you couldn’t have asked for more. The guitars flat out rip, and Jasta is as ferocious as ever with his scream-along vocals.

“Mourn The Illusion” stays heavy, and hints at a more “metalcore” sound. You can’t help being reminded of Shadows Fall, who have toured with Jasta over the years, but JJ’s aggression make this his own. The “singing” aspect of it was sure to disappoint, but it really didn’t. Jamey seems perfectly apt to carry a harmony when he’s not busy bro-fisting, and his vocals worked here.

I have a hard time believing Jasta’s statement that the songs presented here weren’t “in touch” with his other projects, as “Screams From The Sanctuary” might be the best Hatebreed song ever written. It has all the “badass” thump that his day job has been known for, with the hidden uplifting lyrics that have always been Jamey’s mission as an artist. Bro-fist worthy, indeed.

Jasta’s vocal stylings as a singer miss a bit with the next track, “Nothing They Say.” It felt a bit a labored and a bit more nu-metal than I expected, but it was counter-punched by some excellent shredding mid-way. The structure was right – it just seemed a bit of a stretch for everyone involved. The end transitioned into a hardcore stomp, which saved the track – but also made it obvious that everyone was out of their comfort zone on the song. Not a failure, by any means – but a slight whiff of bad cheese after the first three tracks.

Jasta titled the next track wrong. “Anthem of the Freedom Fighter” needed to be titled “Anthem of the Scene-Kid Mosh.” Again, not a bad track, but it was a Hatebreed track – which confuses me yet again. Here I was expecting new, original stuff, and instead get fed something that easily could have been on Supremacy. Standing on its own, it’s a decent track, but not what I was hoping for.

All That Remains’ resident screamer Phil Labonte provides our first cameo on the disc on “Something You Should Know”, and he’s dialed down to a more dedicated, harmonic tone, and it matches the new-found singing style of Jasta to a tee. In fact, Jasta carries the vocals here, with Labonte just sweeping up the remnants along the way. It’s one of the more mid-paced songs on the album, but it still packs some strength. Might be a good radio song…

Getting back to what he does best, Jasta shouts his way into “Set You Adrift.” Unfortunately, the powerful start reverts back to some metalcore-sounding lyrics, and regrettably drifted into the land of who-gives-a-fuck. I listened to this song five times in a row, thinking I had missed something – but it really is the most forgettable track on the disc.

I knew the album was going to get back on track with “Enslaved, Dead or Depraved.” I’m not going to waste space here lamenting on my love for the mighty Randy Blythe from Lamb Of God – we’ve covered that plenty in the past. It must be mentioned here, though, how demonic, rough, and just flat-fucking-ass evil his inclusion adds to this track. Jasta and Blythe have been friends for years, and this collaboration just shows that blood is thicker than water. The two compliment each other throughout the song (which ends far too suddenly), and just might be an amalgamation of the two biggest forces in metal today.

Where Blythe leaves off, Tim Lambesis of As I Lay Dying picks up – with maybe even more energy and fight. As a lead force in a “christian” band, it has been hard for me to ever take Lambesis too seriously, but he shows some prowess here. He’s always been loud and poignant, but throwing him into this hellfire didn’t distract him one bit, and he seems just as fit to wear the horns as he does the halo. Then again, the devil does wear his fair share of disguises, right? The guitars and drums blister here, and if Jasta wants to throw in the towel on pseudo-hardcore and convert to real metal, this is his ticket.

Apparently Zakk Wylde is EVERYONE’S friend, as he makes a guest appearance (or two, if you include the bonus track) on Jasta. But honestly, why the fuck not? Wylde has established himself as the “go-to” guy as far as metal guitar supremacy, so it’s no surprise to see him here. After all, Hatebreed was a staple act year after year on the now near-defunct Ozzfest through the early 2000s (when Wylde was with Osbourne), so the relationship is natural. “The Fearless Must Endure” showcases both talents in the most sure-fire metal song of the bunch. Neither overpowers the track, and the result is a respectable heavy anthem that stands strong.

A strange addition to the powerhouse guest lineup is the unheralded Mike Vallely of Revolution Mother on “Heart of a Warrior” – which, again, had the Hatebreed recipe down to a pat. In fact, to even a discerning ear, Vallely’s presence was pretty much absent in the short 2 minutes of averageness. If this album had a song to skip, it was this one. Sorry, Mike – but I didn’t really expect much here as it was.

We get our second shot of Lamb of God with the next track, but not in the expected fashion. Guitarist Mark Morton takes over the axe in the album’s official closer “Death Bestowed.” I’m not going to say the rest of the album had bad guitars, because it didn’t – but it’s obvious that someone else, and someone better, is tearing the strings here. Morton takes the expected riff and chunk and makes something more of it, and completely tears the face off the track with his solo at the end.

The end result of Jasta is an interesting, far more expansive effort from Jasta that is bound to get it’s share of mixed reaction. For me, the opportunity was there for Jamey to chop – with the help of some heavy-hitters – a (mostly) new chunk out of the ever-changing metal scene, and he wielded the axe well. Not every strike is going to drop the tree, but he again left a heavy, diversified gouge that will only make him more eager for that finishing blow. Knowing Jamey, the cry of “Timber!” is coming soon…

7/10

Tracklist:
1. Walk That Path Alone
2. Mourn The Illusion
3. Screams From The Sanctuary
4. Nothing They Say
5. Anthem Of The Freedom Fighter
6. Something You Should Know (feat. Phil Labonte of All That Remains)
7. Set You Adrift
8. Enslaved, Dead or Depraved (feat. Randy Blythe of Lamb of God)
9. With A Resounding Voice (feat. Tim Lambesis of As I Lay Dying)
10. The Fearless Must Endure (feat. Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society)
11. Heart Of A Warrior (feat. Mike Vallely)
12. Death Bestowed (feat. Mark Morton of Lamb of God)
13. Bury Me With My Beliefs (Bonus Track)
14. The Fearless Must Endure feat. Zakk Wylde (Shredathon Version) (Bonus Track)

http://www.amazon.com/Jasta/dp/B004YDSNJY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1311351681&sr=8-1

MySpace: Link | Official Site: Link

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