Former Pantera pounder Vinnie Paul hasn't made much noise of late, and for good reason: His brother and bandmate, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, was murdered onstage in late 2004. Hellyeah marks Paul's return, and his stick-work is as fierce as ever. If only this would-be supergroup were as consistently badass as he is. The main problem is miscasting. The disc aspires to the Texas-flavored post-thrash Pantera perfected, but lead singer Chad Gray, one of two Mudvayne vets in the quintet (along with guitarist Greg Tribbett), is no cowboy from Hell, and the strain of pretending bleeds through. His pose is exposed on "You Wouldn't Know," an overly polished single; "Alcohaulin' Ass," a bogus booze-along; and "Thank You," a too-polite Dimebag tribute that suggests a metallic gloss on the Golden Girls
theme. Fortunately, Gray passes muster on several other salvos among them the aggressively mindless "Hellyeah," during which Paul sounds like he's playing a pile driver. He may have been away for a while, but he still knows the drill.