Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hank3-Ghost to a Ghost


Remember how in the past I have said that we sometimes stray off the topic of thrash metal? This is one of those moments. Today all you thrash metal crazies and hardcore headbangers are getting a lesson in outlaw country. On September 6th Hank Williams III, the grandson of country legend Hank Williams, Sr., will be releasing a double dose of country material as well as two metal albums. And let me tell you, even if you hate country with a burning passion, give this album a listen. It is worth every penny you may spend on it. As long as you go into this album with no preconceived notions about how country should sound or be played you will love this album.

The first disc of Hank3’s country album is entitled Ghost to a Ghost and features 11 fairly straight shooting country songs. By fairly straight shooting I mean it in the Hank3 kind of way. There’s some hellybilly parts here and there, but mostly just country. The album opener “Guttertown” is an excellent song that will have you toe-tapping in no time. The third track on the album “Ridin’ The Wave” is the first song with a real hellbilly flavor to it. Double bass drums and distorted guitar riffs are present throughout the song. The fourth track, “Don’t You Wanna” may be the best track on the Ghost to a Ghost disc. It is about as catchy as any country song you would hear on the radio today. Except it won’t get played on the radio, because, much like thrash metal, Hank3 and outlaw country have been shunned by both the radio and major record labels.

The next track “Ray Lawrence, Jr.” doesn’t feature much of Hank3 and is mostly sung by a guest singer (Ray Lawrence, Jr., maybe?). That, however, doesn’t stop it from being an excellent (well, two excellent) track(s). It is as close to old-school honky-tonk as you will find anywhere. Following track “The Devil’s Movin’ In” is another old-school sounding song. Sad and doomy, yet at the same time catchy, it provides an excellent half-way point for the first disc. The eighth song on the album is “Trooper’s Hollar”, a track that features banjo as the lead instrument as opposed to guitar. This is probably a close second to “Don’t You Wanna” for best song on the album. It has some weird sound effects but that doesn’t stop the song from being an excellent addition to this album. “Outlaw Convention” is a traditional sounding song that talks about how Hank lives his life by the rules of this convention. Ghost to a Ghost penultimate track “Cunt of a Bitch” is probably the strangest track on that disc. It is as profane as anything Hank has ever written, and basically describes his anger towards a woman who cheated on him (think “P.F.F.”). Disc 1 closer “Ghost to a Ghost” is a traditional sounding song that heads in to “Rebel Within” territory with some screamed vocals toward the end.

Ghost to a Ghost is as good as any country album Hank has put out, however, disc 2 entitled Guttertown is about as far from Ghost to a Ghost as you can get. Think disc 2 of Straight to Hell. Don’t get worried if you didn’t like that part of STH, this is much, much better. It appears to be a concept/theme album, however, with no lyrics to look at it is somewhat hard to tell what that concept is exactly. It’s hard to describe this disc track-by-track as it all seems to be one big concept/song.

Guttertown opens up with some outdoor noises and goes into a strange sort of reprise of the song “Guttertown” from disc 1. Following this intro the album goes into some of the most old-school sounding music you will ever here. You can hear mariachi, Cajun, and traditional American country influences everywhere. Some songs feature accordions, while others take an almost haunting gospel approach with Mr. Williams singing over a backing track of nature noises. This album is as fun as it is haunting. Sometimes happy, often doomy, but always an album that will keep you entertained. Guttertown is nearly indescribable. In the way that Dark Side of the Moon has to be listened to in order understand, so this album goes. It is honestly one of the best albums I have heard in years.

If you do not like this album upon first listen, listen again. As I said in the beginning you cannot approach this double album thinking you know what you are going to get. I did and hated this album on first listen. By the second listen I realized that this album is one of the most unique albums I have ever heard. Words fail me at this point to explain it. It just has to be listened to in order to be explained. This album demonstrates the amazing creative talents Hank3 has. As Hank himself has always said ,this album was his “new beginning”. And a damn good new beginning at that.

4.5/5

Ghost to a Ghost
1.Guttertown
2. Day by Day              
3. Ridin' The Wave              
4. Don't Ya Wanna             
5. Ray Lawrence, Jr.              
6. The Devil's Movin' In              
7. Time to Die              
8. Trooper's Hollar              
9. Outlaw Convention             
10. Cunt of a Bitch
11. Ghost to a Ghost

Gutter Town
1.Goin' to Guttertown 
2. Gutterstomp 
3.The Dirt Road 
4. Mu Sha              
5. The Dream Before             
6. Dyin' Day          
7. I Promised             
8. Chord of the Organ        
9. Move Them Songs              
10. The Low Line 
11. I''ll Be Gone 
12. Trooper's Chaos 
13. Chaos Queen 
14. Thunderpain 
15. Fadin' Moon 
16. The Round 
17. I'll Save My Tears 
18. It's Goin' Down 
19. With the Ship 

Check back in the next week for reviews of Hank3's new metal albums, 3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin' and Attention Deficit Domination.

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