Label: Despotz Records 2012
Review by Alan Holloway
Here’s something you don’t hear every day - a Swedish industrial metal band who have gone, well, all countrified! Yes, the three members of one of Sweden’s top industrial metal meisters, Raubtier, have dragged in a bonus member (Kenneth Seil from Scar Symmetry) and taken it back to, well, someone else’s roots under the guise of the hard drinkin’, hard fightin’ and decidedly American Bourbon Boys.
One might think that Raubtier (who are good, although anything but good time) are taking the piss here, having a dig a Country rock much like Steel Panther rip it out of hair metal, but the most interesting thing is the apparent sincerity held onto throughout. Not only do they play it straight (although the inherent humour of country rock is very intact), they have actually managed to produce a decent, hard rocking album with it.
Vocalist Par Hulkoff manages to turn his normally aggressive Swedish language vocals into a growly Southern American drawl with ease, and I swear that if I didn’t know better I would be wondering just why these American chaps have such Swedish names. Guitarist Jonas Kjellgren delivers sparing but effective solos, with his brother Kenneth providing banjo when needed. The songs are uniformly good, and are definitely at the top end of down and dirty country rock music, with the grit of Johnny Cash rather than the mincing of Billy Ray Cyrus. Hell, I can see people line dancing to “Pour Some Bourbon On Me”, or slow dancing to the excellent single (check YouTube) “Hillbilly Heart”, with faster tunes like “Rattlesnake” and “Bowhunting Song” even allowing for a few headbangers.
By rights, “Shotguns, Trucks & Cattle” should either be a mess or a hilarious joke. In reality, it’s a fun album stuffed full of catchy tunes that straddle the line of country and rock & roll without any difficulty. Thirteen tracks is slightly too long, but there really aren’t any that make you want to skip ahead so it’s hard to say which could have been dropped. It’s all quite unashamedly upbeat and fun, with nothing remotely deep or meaningful, a decided u turn from their other work (and a welcome one.) Tell you what, check out “Hillbilly Heart”, one of the slower tracks but a goodie, on YouTube, and if you tap your feet then go and get the album, because it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.