The Road Hammers

Blood, Sweat & Steel

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The Road Hammers are Canadians with a serious jones for hardcore country music and heavy metal guitar, a blend of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Merle Haggard, and AC/DC. This isn't anything new. The Supersuckers have been doing it for a decade and Hank III's blend of punk and country has plenty of metallic antecedents. The band was started by Jason McCoy, winner of the Canadian Country Music Association's Male Vocalist of the Year for several years running. With likeminded bandmates he cut The Road Hammers in 2005. The album came in at number one on the Canadian country charts, spawned four Top Ten hits, and won a Juno (Canadian Grammy) for Country Recording of the Year. They also starred in their own Canadian reality series, which didn't hurt sales any. Now they're steering their semis southward in an attempt to capture the hearts of American country and rock lovers. Blood, Sweat & Steel is a re-sequenced version of The Road Hammers with a three new tracks including "Workin' Hard at Lovin' You," a stompin' redneck love song by John Rich of Big & Rich's Nashville MuzikMafia. It's a screaming pop-metal country tune, and with the magic touch of the MuzikMafia, it has hit potential. McCoy's snarling, macho delivery is perfect. "I Don't Know When to Quit" is a sexy, slightly sleazy track, with Hammond B-3 and wailing pedal steel giving its celebration of excess a primal power. "I Got the Scars to Prove It" takes a more insightful look at self-destruction, a slightly sentimental tune that takes full responsibility for the protagonist's stupid mistakes. It's another strong track. The Canadian hits are all here and sounding great. "I'm a Road Hammer" is a good truck-drivin' tune that McCoy sings in the manner of John Anderson with Allman-style twin guitars wailing in the background, and Jerry Reed's "East Bound and Down" combines acoustic banjo and bass with icy lead electric guitar and ringing Dobro. "Nashville Bound" is a bluegrass-flavored tale of the tribulations of the road, while "Girl on the Billboard," the Del Reeves/Jim & Jesse hit, gets a credible remake. There's nothing earthshaking here, but the Road Hammers deliver the tunes with enough energy and high spirits to keep your pedal to the metal.

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