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Jamey Jasta

Fans of heavy music around the globe know Jamey Jasta as the aggressive, bandana-wearing frontman for hardcore heavyweights Hatebreed, as one half of the creative thrust driving sludge metal supergroup Kingdom Of Sorrow, and as the mastermind behind the all-star hardcore collaboration Icepick. With these bands, he’s sold over a million records worldwide and played shows all over the world. As if that weren’t enough, he’s bolstered his empire with his own record label, Stillborn, and his own clothing company, Hatewear. Which brings us to his latest endeavor, JASTA. The only thing you have to do to appreciate it fully? Forget almost everything you know about Jamey Jasta.

First off, JASTA is not a solo album in the conventional sense. JASTA is a band like Danzig is a band—both are led by a man who gives his surname to the group as a whole. In JASTA’s case, the band consists of Kingdom Of Sorrow members Nick (drums) and Charlie Bellmore (guitars/bass). The newly minted group played their first shows in 2008. “I had some time off and I was thinking I wanted to play a couple of small shows at bars,” Jasta explains. “So I got together with Nicky and Charlie, and they had a bass player they were jamming with, so we played a few shows. We’d do a couple of Icepick songs, a couple of Hatebreed songs, a couple of Kingdom Of Sorrow songs and then some covers. Those shows went really well, and I thought it would be a good outlet for me when I just wanna do a small show. It’s just a quick, easy way for me to get in the van and do it. But there was interest there, and where there’s interest, there’s opportunity.” That opportunity resulted in the 12 tracks of all-new material that appear on JASTA’s self-titled debut. The first half of the album establishes the sound, which is more melodic, metallic and anthemic than any of Jasta’s previous work. Most surprising of all, though? Our man is actually singing for the first time in his career. “In my other bands, there wasn’t any emotional need to do that because I was coming from a place of angst or anger, so it always involved screaming,” Jasta says. “But these songs needed a different kind of expression.”

When the JASTA song “Mourn The Illusion” made its Sirius radio debut in early May, Jasta’s Twitter blew up with comments. “People were like, ‘Holy shit! That was you singing?’” Jasta recalls. “But that was kind of the point. I wanted certain people to realize, ‘Oh, this isn’t just a guy in a bandana or a baseball hat yelling at me.’”

On the second half of the album, Jasta hauls out the big guns in the form of guest spots from the likes of Randy Blythe and Mark Morton (Lamb Of God), Philip Labonte (All That Remains),

Tim Lambesis (As I Lay Dying), pro skater Mike Vallely and guitar legend Zakk Wylde. “The song I did with Randy from Lamb Of God is cool because I don’t think Lamb Of God has had a guest vocalist on any of their songs, and Hatebreed has never had a guest vocalist on one of ours,” Jasta says. “So for us to come together and go back and forth on ‘Enslaved, Dead or Depraved’ was a no-brainer. The lyrics for the song were inspired when I was up early and driving down the road to get a coffee. This guy was changing the letters on one of those church marquees, where every Sunday they’ll have a different inspirational quote. It said something like, ‘A true captain stays at the helm in the worst of seas.’ And that just hit me like a ton of bricks, because if you think about it, anyone can hold the helm while the sea is calm. The people who weather the storm are the people who do great things. And with all the stuff Randy and I have been through in the music industry and our personal lives, I thought it was a good match. It’s about gaining enlightenment through the really fucked-up periods of your life. If you don’t do that, you end up like the song says: enslaved, dead or depraved.”

But it’s the song “Anthem Of The Freedom Fighter,” on which Jasta handles the vocals himself, that really sums up the attitude he has about his new band. Partly inspired by UFC fighter Shane “The Freedom Fighter” Carwin and partly by the recent revolutionary uprisings in Egypt and Libya, the song encapsulates Jasta’s ever-expanding repertoire. “There are a lot of parallels between JASTA and mixed-martial arts,” he offers. “I think of Hatebreed as, like, the boxing champion— we hit you hard and it keeps hitting. So this is my mixed attack, where there’re other influences and styles involved. It may not be as brutal and methodical, but it’s still hard. Just like karate or ju-jitsu may not be kick-boxing, but they’ll still fuck you up. So it’s just about incorporating different weapons into the arsenal.” - Jay Bennet