By Keith Carman
There has been endless hyperbole surrounding Hank Williams III’s metal outfit Assjack. As the saga goes, III was forced into the world of country in order to make a name for himself and pay off mounting child support bills. While capitalizing off his legacy, the twanger’s true/first passion of metal had to sit on the—heh heh—curb, only to see the light of day here and there in a live setting. While there might be varying levels of truth to that story, there’s no denying that Assjack’s (which is essentially III performing all instruments) debut effort is finally out. Was the hype worth it? Yes and no. III is an incredible songwriter. The album’s ten tracks are superbly forged bouts of Butthole Surfers-inspired oddball frenzy, percussive blasts mixed with Pantera-ish downbeats and Misfits-esque aggression. Sadly though, where the craftsmanship is enviable, the execution fails. Since III performs the album himself, there’s a displeasing air of industrial that overtakes the record. A heavy reliance on electronic drums and overdubs reduces it to feeling closer to Ministry than III—and we—would probably like. Songs lack the power and confrontation a real drum kit and kick-ass musicians pushing each other to adrenaline overdose accomplishes. All in all, while it’s wonderful to finally hear how Assjack sounds on an album, this is more of a get-it-out-of-the-way effort. Hopefully for his sophomore, III will tap the infinite wealth of metal buddies he consorts with to make his punishing songs that much stronger.