Assjack - Assjack
Curb Records
Gutter Hardcore/Crust Punk
10 songs (31:09)
Release year: 2009
Reviewed by Phil

Well, he finally did it. Hank Williams III (a.k.a.: Shelton Hank Williams) finally convinced his country record label, Curb Records, to release an Assjack album. The Nashville-based label loosened up their keister and let this baby slide out. Yep, Assjack can now say they share a label with Tim McGraw and Wynonna Judd. Unfortunately, it’s looking like it wasn’t worth the effort. Sure, Hank finally won. He can drop his ‘Fuck Curb’ campaign, and he can point to this fresh Assjack release and smile. But, in the end, it’s the listener that’s getting short-changed by this deal.

As Hank’s battle with Curb Records wore on, he began recording and selling bootleg Assjack albums at his shows. Cleverly titled Bootleg I, II and III, these albums were the sole recordings of the country crooner’s most abusive creations. Of the 10 tracks on Assjack, six of them appeared on these bootlegs. So, diehard fans are just getting new versions of the songs they’ve already heard.

The bootlegs’ raw production and performances also gave the Assjack tunes an immediacy and power that the studio versions seem to lack. Part of the problem may lie in the fact that Hank performed and produced the entire album by himself. Drums, bass, guitars and vocals, Hank recorded them all solo. One thing that’s missing from the studio versions is unique instrumentation. On the bootlegs, players from Hank’s country band would often stick around and add steel guitar, stand up bass or fiddle to a violent Assjack tune. It added a unique flavor and vibe to the proceedings when a 50-year-old studio musician from Nashville was bowing the hell out of a fiddle while Hank banged on his guitar and screamed. That flavor is definitely missing from this first official studio release.

Assjack’s sound is probably best described as gutter hardcore. Healthy doses of G.G. Allin and Black Flag can be found in the mix; notice neither influence was well known for their musical prowess. Simply put, the album is made up of 10 punishing songs that show a complete and total disregard for the listener. Every tune is packed with lightning fast drumming and chunky, sloppy riffing. It makes it pointless to pick the album apart and describe each song, because they’re all pretty much the same. The only thing that shows the least bit of musical uniqueness is Hank’s vocal performance. His nasally, country twang often makes an appearance on the album, and it’s not out of the ordinary for three or four vocal tracks to be layered on each song. Hank’s voice almost saves songs like Tennessee Driver, Gravel Pit and Doin’ What I Want from the crust punk graveyard. But, in the end, the vocals just aren’t enough.

Unfortunately, Assjack will frustrate first time listeners and infuriate long-suffering fans. In a perfect world, the band’s second album will feature a fresh batch of songs and a bevy of Nashville studio musicians. Until that time, you’re probably better off sticking with Assjack bootlegs.

Killing Songs :
Tennessee Driver, Gravel Pit, Doin' What I Want
Phil quoted 59 / 100
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