Those who have had the pleasure of seeing Shelton Hank Williams III perform live know that the man always gives his audience more than their money's worth. A typical show will be 3 full sets - each approximately 45 minutes to an hour long. The first set is a straight-up country set. Set #2 is often the "hillbilly" set - which is similar to the country set with more distortion, and often a second vocalist, usually in the form of Damn Band/Assjack member Gary Lindsay. And the final set is the punk or metal set. This used to be Assjack, but more recently has been 3's new project, A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Domination).
A Fiendish Threat is more or less the Hellbilly side of things. Country with fuzz, distortion and a whole lot of attitude. 3 handles all vocals and instrumentation on this one. It's a bit of a departure from what we're used to. 3 has one of the most distinctive voices in music but here he's stretching that familiar twang to add some punk dimension, creating an album full of Oi's and whoa-oh's to make the most cynical of listeners prick up their ears.
Instrumentation is sparse - most songs including only acoustic guitar and stand-up bass. When listening, one can easily imagine full electric accompaniment - not out of lament for lost potential but appreciation for a different take on a genre that's become so unbelievably wrote, it barely maintains the properties of an idea.
A Fiendish Threat is another in a long continuing line of releases from a man who, now that he's kicked his dictatorship of a label to the Curb (get it?) now has the luxury of doing whatever the hell he wants. As with anyone in this enviable position, some things will hit the mark, and some will not. That's for all of you to decide. I may not be the one to ask - I may be the only one who loved 3 Bar Ranch's Cattle Callin', 3's release of cattle auctioneers accompanied by speed metal. While not well received, it did however, spawn (breed?) my new favorite sub genre - Cattlecore.
There's a lot of standouts on this album - opener "Can I Rip You" sets a fast-paced tone for what the album is all about, but there are some side roads taken that are every bit as valid - the ghostly "Your Floor" and "Feel the Sting", which features some of the best fiddle work I've heard in a while.
Now that he's a contractually a free man, the door's been kicked wide open with what 3 can do and with this newly found freedom is a sense of excitement for what's next because this is a man a lot of tricks up a mighty long sleeve.