Published Sep 27, 2013After emerging from a stifling decade under the thumb of Nashville's Curb Records in 2011, Shelton Hank Williams unleashed a torrent of new material that for the first time properly reflected his personality's country/punk dichotomy. That's further displayed on Brothers of the 4x4A Fiendish Threat, the first by Williams' new punk project, simply called 3. While the sound on each is different, the attitude is the same, with Hank proudly waving the flag on behalf of the current generation of outlaws. However, having recently turned 40, Brothers of the 4x4 has more reflective moments than might be expected, as on the Waylon Jennings-esque "Farthest Away" and "Deep Scars." But whether or not you're down with Williams' rebel stance — exemplified by the title track and "Loners 4 Life" — the musicianship on Brothers of the 4x4 is exceptional, anchored by Williams' double-kick drum tracks.
Guitarist Johnny Hiland especially deserves credit for some of the most blistering chicken pickin' in recent memory, while banjo player Daniel Mason tears it up with equal aplomb. While Brothers of the 4x4 is about as extreme as country music gets (most tracks approach, or surpass, the six-minute mark), it never loses touch with the rich history running through Williams' veins. He may be hard for most country music fans to take, but there isn't a more vital artist working within the genre right now. (Megaforce)