Two Worlds Collide
Of the four simultaneous new releases by heir to Nashville’s throne Hank Williams III, the most and least surprising is his doom metal album Attention Deficit Domination. It’s the most surprising because it contains not a hint of the style that his father and grandfather made famous, a sound he carried across his prior releases. It’s also the least surprising because he played drums in various punk and hardcore projects through the 1990s, and recorded a death metal album with the band Assjack in 2009. His heritage may be all dulcet country, but his passion lies in noisy rock.
While his other solo albums have included songs with titles that would be more at home on downer metal catalogs (“Candidate for Suicide” and “Pills I Took” come to mind), the music was as CMT as anything Papa or Grandpapa recorded. ADD is an attempt at a collection of dark, loud, slow and low numbers. Musically, Hank III succeeds, his songs plodding on and nibbling away at your speakers. Vocally, however, Williams chose not to use the competent deep growl he displayed in Assjack. He drones on in a voice that combines the whiniest of Sabbath-era Ozzy with the monotonous gullet-shaking vibrato of post-Dead Kennedys Jello Biafra. The result is unpleasant, which may sound odd when talking about this kind of music, but the few times he actually slips into a lower register (like in album closer “Goats ‘N’ Heathans”) are welcome moments indeed. To make matters worse, the vocals are mixed way up front so you couldn’t ignore them if you wanted to.
Some real thought was put into the music, with riffs that are simple and effective, and in some songs his vocals do work. Standouts “I Feel Sacrificed” and “Demons Mark” sound closer to Pentagram’s Bobby Leibling than to a dying turkey. In general, Attention Deficit Domination sounds like something Hank III needed to get out of his system, but it’s not likely to take his career in a new direction.