HELLYEAH @ Austin’s Fuel Room – Libertyville, IL

HELLYEAH   W/Special guests Wings of Severance

AUSTIN’S SALOON, Libertyville, IL ~ 5/20/14

By:  GMPlanell

For me to accurately describe the sensation of seeing this show, I would probably have to dig into my dictionary and find an extraordinary word for INSANITY.  That’s probably as close as I’m going to get.

Wings of Severance opened for the famed HELLYEAH during a dreary, rain soaked evening.  The intensity was high as they took the stage and wrecked the crowd with several original,  killer-thrash songs.  I found their version of ‘Simple Man’ to be a welcomed rest for my throbbing ears.  The lighting, however, blinded me and was a little annoying, not enhancing to this show, including the fact that the mosh pit was in full force when they arrived.   They needed NOTHING else to accentuate their stage performance. Hailing from the Chicago area, I’d say a job well done for the metal soldiers taking Adrenalin Mob’s place as back up for the headline band.  Adrenaline Mob canceled due to a serious accident leaving the band without their equipment and no injuries with the exception of serious disappointment.  Here’s hoping they are back on the road soon.

It was time for HELLYEAH to serve a heaping helping of metal whoop ass. . and that they did!  I was mesmerized.  This was my first HELLYEAH show (I know, I know).  I had been a huge Vinnie Paul fan for many years during the Pantera and Damageplan periods.  I tried to focus on him only as I was a slight ten feet away, with my heart pounding almost through my chest.  The array of seasoned musicians that accompanied him made it impossible.

Newest addition and guitarist to this lineup from Las Vegas, was Christian Brady.  Described as ‘the only person from Las Vegas who doesn’t gamble’ by Chad Gray, Brady flourished on his custom Dean Explorer guitar. Adding strong, background vocals to this collaboration, you would think Brady had been a member since the inception.  When I asked him how it felt jamming with this supergroup, Brady told me, “It’s like being with ‘family’.  We do everything together. Chad is a good friend of mine for a very long time and I love this!”

Kyle Sanders, former bassist for Blood Simple (and brother to Troy Sanders of Mastadon),  is what I would call a necessary staple to this metal report.  His blistering, background vocals and uncontested talent lent itself to the viciousness of the songs excuted this evening.  I was transfixed on the bass lines and coordinating vocal exchanges between him and Brady. Dreads flowing mightily, he rocked his way to metal mastery.  I love this guy!

Chad Gray fronting this entire metal machine is simply … a destroyer.  His vocals were obliterating, hauntingly raw and hellacious.  He commanded the stage once again as he did in Mudvayne. This time, however, he was supported by plethoric,  salient musicians illuminating the audience with gritty, soulful vocal ability. He ripped the asses of every, single person in that room and didn’t stop there. He addressed pertinent issues of a nature so personal and appropriately as he introduced songs, ‘Made of Stone’ and ‘I’m just me’.  You couldn’t take your eyes off of him.  He was eerily attractive and demanded the respect he had deserved from his metal constituents. He is one of the most down-to-earth, real people I have ever met in this industry. Rocking one of the coolest mohawks I’ve ever seen, it’s no wonder he was chosen to front this band.

The brain child of this superstar group is Tom Maxwell, former guitarist for Nothingface- (wish I heard more from that band…).  He played his custom Dean “MAXHELL”  Soltero and observed the audiences reaction to the songs administered by this band of brothers.  Like a boss, he continued his onslaught and accepted the nods, headbanging and screams from his fans as badges on a colonel’s uniform.  The war of metal that he had won.  I had an extremely exciting opportunity to ask Tom specific questions that I had racing through my mind from the beginning of this experience for me…..  ‘You just ‘knew’, didn’t you?”, I asked.  Quickly he responded,  “No, I didn’t.  I just waited.”  Referring to his insistance that the incredible Vinnie Paul Abbott be included in this project in 2006.  For obvious,  personal reasons, it took a while for Vinnie to commit to this Supergroup.   Once he did, the pillars of this phenomenon began to catalyze.  “Once you hear this album, you won’t believe it!”, said Maxwell; with regard to the June 10th release, “BLOOD FOR BLOOD”.  “It’s entirely different than what you would expect from these musicians.  I’m telling you, you’re going to love it”.  At that point, I was already waiting for the next album.

Speaking of wanting more,  Vinnie Paul (Abbott) was downright deadly.  It had been a very long time since I had seen him perform and I have to say I was completely satisfied.  His drum kit was monsterous as he parlayed each song with meaningful blasts from his cannon-sounding, (ddrum) bass drums.  I’ve never seen such enormous vessels in my life.  The sound was incredible. Quite possibly because I’ve never noticed anyone playing them like that.   Arguably one of the greatest drummers of our time, Paul’s off stage personality appears to be one of quiet, regal, professionalism.  I found him to be grateful for this experience and quite the kind-hearted soul.  Every fan at Austin’s Fuel room waited for the moment when he stepped on stage.  He disappointed no one. He is exactly the enigmatic stunner I had always admired him to be in this band. He kept it together and I understood exactly why Maxwell insisted on waiting for this metal steamroller and Texas paramount.

Hellyeah is not your average band.  If you are looking to see the old lineup, you need to remove that image from your mind- completely.  This current blueprint is visually and musically cohesive with no jagged corners -anywhere.   I was drawn in by their rhythmic compatibilities as well as the allure of the stage performance. This is now an in-your-face, metal eruption.   They broke off mega hits from 2007 to date, including ‘Cowboy Way’, ‘Matter of Time’, and ‘Band of Brothers. Also included in this manifest were soon-to-be-released hits;  sexy, possessing – ‘Blood for Blood’ and vicious, telling,  ass-kicker ‘Demons in the Dirt’.  ‘Cross to Bier (cradle of bones)’ was an unearthly creation featuring the searing vocals of Gray, Sanders and Brady ripping into the audience like a razor on rice paper, all featured on the new album coming out June 10th- “BLOOD FOR BLOOD”.   Familiar ‘Drink, Drank, Drunk’ quickly recognized by die-hard fans, paved the way for ‘Band of Brothers’ , ‘Alcohaulin’ Ass’ (no description needed here), ‘You wouldn’t know’ and a polishing finish of ‘HELLYEAH’ from the original, self-titled album.   The moshing was incessant and at times painful, even for the spectators.  There was no place on earth that I should have been, but here. Like a vampire sucking the life of it’s prey and replacing it with immortality,  I now have HELLYEAH in my BLOOD.   Very appropriate release name……..


Gina Planell (a.k.a 'Sweet G') has literally been an eternal supporter of local music in Chicago. As a youngster trying to earn money to get into college in order to pursue a career in journalism, she became a popular area promoter and photographer as a result of her good skills and work ethic. Learning to type-set flyers, posters and other pressed promotion items was something she became good at not only as a means to reach a goal, but because of the fact that she had a true, unadultered love for music, which in time started making an impact within her music community and scene.