The only difference between Hank 3’s punk and his country is really just a matter of inflection.
Review by David Feltman
The only difference between Hank 3’s punk and his country is really just a matter of inflection. Every bit as fast, hard and filled with the same “dying breed” minded lyrics, A Fiendish Threat makes a perfect companion piece to his simultaneously released country album, Brothers of the 4X4 (not that the bloated country double album was in need of more songs). Threat however is leaner and tighter than its country counterpart, keeping the songs between two to three minutes and doling them out like shot gun shells from a single barrel.
Shelton Hank Williams III aims for the early East Coast punk of DRI and Bad Brains, filtered through his own southern twang. Shelton shouts his lyrics to distortion, only occasionally dipping into his signature nasally snarl. This is a shame since his distinctive accent is perfectly suited for punk and the few tracks on which it is employed, like “Watchin U Suffer,” are among the best on the album.
Where 4X4 has a rich, layered sound, Threat is thin and tinny. This may have worked for some songs, but Shelton employs the buzzy tone on every track. He does keep 4X4’s galloping rhythms on tracks like “Broke Jaw,” even slipping in fiddles and pedal steel to give the album a definite cow-punk flavor. But despite these unorthodox touches, there’s a homogeneity that plagues Threat. Each song comes across as little more than an extension of the last. Songs like “Can I Rip U” and “Fight My Way” pack enough of a wallop to rise above the uniformity of the production, but are too few to carry the full weight of the album.
As on 4X4, when Hank 3 is on he’s amazing. His work in bands like Super Joint Ritual, Arson Anthem and Assjack leave no doubt of Shelton’s punk prowess, but he is at his best when he lets his punk attitudes mingle with his country predilections. Dividing the two elements between separate releases only weakens the special formula that makes Hank 3’s earlier albums so exciting.