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Release Date: 03.05.02
Record label: Hollywood Records
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


by: clint poole

Warning! Warning! This is a warning for all the Heavy Metal fans who thought Jason Newsted’s new band Echobrain would carry the sound of his former mates Metallica; you should stop yourself from running to the record stores immediately. No, you won’t find any hard-hitting odes to war-torn invalids or sleepless bogeyman. What you will find is an innovative new turn for the hard rocker with his new friends, more reminiscent of early 90’s alternative rock (Jesus and Mary Chain, SoupDragons, and early Soundgarden) than anything he has done before.

With Echobrain, Newsted has avoided the shameful and lazy path previously taken by so many rockers who fled successful bands, merely re-producing the same sound under a different name (I am thinking Perry Farrell and Tommy Lee here). Apparently when Newsted said he was leaving Metallica for artistic reasons, he meant it. Teaming up with newcomer Brian Sagrafena on drums, and long-time friend Dylan Donkin on guitar/vocals, the seasoned bassist has found new direction.

The trio’s self-titled debut album is a solid collection of swift and catchy rock songs, sprinkled with a touch of alternative and blues-rock. The album quickly sets the mood with its first track “Colder World”, a ballad about the harsh realities of moving through life on your own (an artist’s favorite topic). Fortunately, the punchy guitar and vocals save it from becoming too dark and broodish.

The beginning tracks continue the album’s strength with “Feeling is Over”, a deeply layered piece complete with a wavy, space-jam melody resembling Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. The band quickly shows their flexibility with “Spoonfed”, whose slow pace and tempered lyrics allow Newsted and Donkin to flex their muscles on bass and guitar respectively.

The album is not without its faults, however. Tracks like “Adrift” (which ends with some sort of overture one can only assume was recorded by a local community orchestra), and “We are ghosts”, are thin, empty shells of work reflective of the band’s grasping for material. In a failed effort to be innovative, that comes off as too cute for its own good, every song begins or ends with a studio engineered pan flute, orchestra, or computer generate life-imitating sound.

Still, as with all well arranged albums, Echobrain follows weak tracks with redeeming pieces. Songs like “Keep Me Alive”, and the traveling theme “HWY 44”, which pays homage to the blues roots of rock ‘n roll, keep the album moving along with style.

Despite its few faults Echobrain is a deeply layered, innovative, and interesting album that delivers a rich musical experience, and promises more good to come from this trio. And kudos to Jason Newsted for saying he was looking for a new artistic direction and following through! 04-Aug-2002 9:33 AM