This is it, folks. Light off the nukes, open the floodgates, start a fucking wildfire for all I care. After years of experimentation and combining disparate musical influences with reckless abandon, the error of our ways has finally manifested itself in terrifying form. To paraphrase Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm, we were so preoccupied with whether or not we could, we never stopped to think if we should. Yet here it is: a Nashville quartet who bill themselves as a fusion of country and metal, complete with twangy guitars, honkytonk fiddle, rudimentary attempts at extreme metal, and shit-kicking rhythms pulled straight from the Bumfuck County square dance. I’d like to think this could have worked in more skilled hands, but in its current form, Soundtrack to the Second Civil War is the best argument I’ve seen for how we have finally exhausted all facets of human creativity.

Formed in 2015 by guitarist/vocalist Ryan Clackner and fiddler/vocalist Lucy Cochran, Stump Tail Dolly is a combination of country and metal in the same way a week-old Big Mac is a combination of “well-aged cheese” and “expertly cultured meat.” While technically correct, it offers little hint at how bad the reality actually is. Forget Downy Southern metal – picture instead a combination of mathcore, bluegrass, and the most generic black metal imaginable. If The Ongoing Concept attempted to rewrite Saloon and make it the worst album they possibly could, it would probably sound something like Stump Tail Dolly.

There’s a lot that’s wrong with War, but the biggest flaw is also the most obvious: this music is just plain bad. Right from the start of opener “Atlantis,” Dolly grate the ears with a set of wonky notes that bang out a clumsy melody, and things get no better with the introduction of Ms Cochran’s ill-fitting wails and Clackner’s toothless rasps. After an extended instrumental jam that’s about as exciting as a Lifetime original movie, follow-up “Nashville Girl” attempts to re-invigorate things by breaking in with banjo-y electric guitars that recall a far shittier Mastodon. Unfortunately, the quick licks clash with Cochran’s ubiquitous fiddle and end up working about as well as a one-armed man in an archery contest.

This largely remains the story for the rest of War’s 45 minutes. Between forgettable instrumental interludes like “Cumberland Gap” and complete musical abominations like “Amerika,” things veer between irritating and dull but never settle anywhere close to “good.” Perhaps the worst example are the screams of “Let’s get famous on Youtube/Facebook/Twitter!” in “For Real For Real,” which almost makes me want to petition my Congressman to have music programs cut from schools. The production also offers no positives, with a wildly varying DR that blandly presents the music without fostering any sense of atmosphere or excitement.

Perhaps the most annoying thing about War, however, is revealed right there in its title. Just like a real civil war, this album feels at odds with itself. While the country and metal elements are actually combined pretty well musically, there is no attempt for a smooth emotional transition between the two, resulting in jarring mood shifts that get swept beneath the rug under the guise of “we’re just rocking out and having fun, man.” If this album were a person, it would be the jock who shows up to a country concert wearing fresh boots and a cowboy hat, gets too drunk on PBR, and ends up ruining the show for everyone by shouting like an idiot and throwing empty beer cans in the air the entire time.

I wanted to say that War is the Sharknado of metal albums, but that’s not fair to Sharknado. If you want a better combination of country and metal, listen to Behemoth while Toby Keith blares in the background. Make no mistake: Soundtrack to the Second Civil War is not just a bad album, it is an utter failure, a debut which I pray receives no follow-up, an atrocity which insults both of its core genres. I refuse to even call this music – this is noise executed with as much finesse as Andre the Giant performing open heart surgery with a shovel. If ever there was a second Civil War, the only thing worse would be if this album was actually its soundtrack.


Rating: 0.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 1,411 kbps WAV
Label: Rusty Knuckles Music
Websites: stumptaildolly.com | facebook.com/stumptaildolly
Releases Worldwide: September 1st, 2017

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  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Love the Andre the Giant bit lol
    Won’t even bother with the embedded track…..

    • I did bother.
      I strayed from the righteous path.
      For that, I shall never truly repent.
      To anyone who reads this: I beg of you, do not repeat my mistake.
      It’s over…

  • John Mosley

    I wish this album was good. Conceptually, I am totally on board.

    • Master of Muppets

      I work country riffage into otherwise blackened/deathy jam sessions all the time, most music can be made to work together with a little bit of thought. It’s definitely doable, just not by these folks apparently. At least they’re trying something different, I don’t have to dig the tunes to respect that much.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      “Stump Tail Dolly” was my mom’s favorite position for human procreation.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Soooo. …now we are talking about YOUR mom for a change.

        • Master of Muppets

          Do you find her quite fetching?

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            ……I DO…….

          • Master of Muppets

            That’s right, give in to the darkness. Fight!

      • sir_c

        I know.

      • [not a Dr]

        The fact that you feel the need to specify “human” vehicles more information than I was ready for.

  • Shawn Cypher

    Well, it’s definitely unique…

  • Choodi

    Well, i didn’t hate it. Embedded track kinda reminded me of some parts of Psalm 69 from Ministry.

  • Dr. Wvrm

    The one country riff in there isn’t bad, but they play it about 150 times in 5 minutes. The rest of it is a composition clusterfuck.

  • Master of Muppets

    This is savagely beautiful. You tell ’em, Z Boy.

  • metalcasket

    These guys could use some pointers from Zeal & Ardor on how to blend genres. Blues and black metal sounds like a trainwreck on paper, but Z&A made it work… This however actually is a trainwreck.

  • Equilux

    Sounds like a Pyrrhon side project.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      With a dash of Primus. Well with a dash of Primus when Primus goes Country-flavored.

  • GardensTale

    Most of the embedded track doesn’t blend the genres at all. They just play one or the other, in the same song. And shittily. Good review, Z.

    • Mark Z

      Yeah, I was kind of hoping they would have another song to embed because this is one of the most purely country tracks and isn’t very representative of the rest of the album. In that way it’s also one of the better tracks here so be forewarned if you decide to explore deeper…

      • GardensTale

        Don’t worry, I won’t.

  • Treble Yell

    Everyday we stray further from Baphomet’s black light.

    • Master of Muppets

      Not if I can get my cold, velvety hands on that promo bin sans supervision. We’re going, going back, back to Satan, Satan.

  • Treble Yell

    Alright, now that I’ve watched the embedded film-clip I can safely say… it’s good! I’m not really surprised, however, considering I love things that spit at convention. This is basically if Diablo Swing Orchestra did the soundtrack to Deliverance. Not sure if an entire album of this would hold up, however.

    • Nukenado

      DSO’s style transitions are way more natural. The embed track has no idea how to go from metal to country to me at least.

      • Treble Yell

        The transitions are a tad ham-fisted, however, there’s a clear overall structure to the song where you can hear that the disparate elements were placed with intent. The composition is sound, just not the blending of the styles, if that makes sense.

        • Nukenado

          I can get that. The thing is that the blending harms the flow of the track and seperates it into sections.

  • Judging by the embedded track, this is silly, but not what I would call bad. Vocals are pretty strong.

    • sir_c

      The vocalist should move to some other band indeed

      • Not really. I think bands like this are important even if it doesn’t always end up great.

  • Ami

    I like the cat, best thing. The rest of the video made me think this is just a parody band; music-wise it’s horrible and made me hate country more than I already had.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    There’s Outlaw Country, then there’s Country that should be outlawed.

    • Master of Muppets

      I think this shit has gotten out of hand.

    • Kryopsis

      I don’t think anything can Trump this comment.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Did you write trump with a capital T as a reference to Mr President or did autocomplete do that?

        • Kryopsis

          I don’t use autocomplete.

  • eloli

    I’ll have to listen to the whole album to form an opinion.
    I didn’t hate the embedded track bad, quite the contrary, in a metal scene in which all bands within a subgenre sound exactly the same, it’s refreshing that a band trying to sound a little original, trainwreck or not.
    The female vocalist sounds a lot like the Cycle Sluts from Hell, and I mean that as a compliment.

  • Maximos662

    I was on board for the concept, but the execution made me wonder whether Sherman was too soft on the South. The female vocals were the only bright spot in the five minutes I spent taking in the full horror of that video.

  • Hank Williams the iii already did this? Haven’t you heard hellbilly before

  • Kronos Sr.

    I don’t think it can be classified as a fusion of country and metal, it just sounds like good ol’ Rock a Billy. The video was interesting and there wasn’t a need to call in the unicorns, they did it themselves. They must read this site.

  • Frost15

    I think this could end up being my guilty pleasure of the month… I liked what I heard…

  • wayne the devil

    Try From North for a more lucid folk Metal album. Just a random name drop.

  • Eldritch Elitist

    This is definitely a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, but I don’t hate it. I feel like this could be something special with a bit of refining.

  • Lou Daz

    Eh, it’s not that bad.

  • The Akerstache
  • Cherd

    Watched the video without sound at work. Based on that experience I will never listen to this. Or maybe anything ever again. I’ll just burn my computer and live in the woods, where videos like this can never find me.

    • Eli Valcik

      I’m going off the grid.

  • Mollusc

    The title of this seems to be a worrying reference to a “southern uprising”. Hopefully I’m wrong, having not understood the context and at most it’s in poor taste.

    • Bryan Barkman

      The lyrics to ‘Amerika’ made it pretty clear that its quite the opposite, which made me happy as I had the same worry, especially after the appearance of what looked almost like ‘Pepe the Frog’ in the video.

      • Mollusc

        Thanks, thought it needed clarifying! Most people are just going to see the title and assume the worst (as I was veering towards).

  • wayne the devil

    Raging Slabs’ kids? Hmm…

  • Bryan Barkman

    I actually like this quite a bit, strangely. It’s a little rough around the edges, I wish she would sing a little more, and less/or/better black metal bits would be good. 3/5 after one listen.

  • PepticSalve

    I think I just sharted…..

  • Eli Valcik

    DONT YOU DARE HATE ON MY BOY ANDRE!

  • Eli Valcik

    Nope, that guy has no arms. Doesn’t count.

  • sir_c

    Fear and loathing in Las Vegas, the B-sides

  • Grimstrider

    KILL THIS SHIT WITH FIRE. We should have let General Sherman wipe this scum off the face of the earth when we had the chance…

  • De2013

    Thank you Sir, for this epic line and a great review. “I wanted to say that War is the Sharknado of metal albums, but that’s not fair to Sharknado”.

    It’s been a while since a whole 0.5 was delivered through this medium.

  • The Unicorn
    • Oh boy, now you’ve gone and done it.

      • The Unicorn

        Quite a motley crew he hangs out with…no wonder he cant be objective.

  • RuySan

    From the description i was expecting Black Metal’s Mumford & Sons, and from checking the video it’s somehow even worse than that.

  • Nukenado

    So, what’s this like? I’m intrigued, is this like a failed Z&A?

    • Nukenado

      0:39 holy shit what the fuck

      • Nukenado

        Electric guitar playing country riffs are interesting, although not good riffs.

        • Nukenado

          1:30 NONONONONONONONONO

          • Nukenado

            What’s with the constant genre shifting?!

          • Jon Hartley

            “Can’t blend two things? Just alternate them! Voila!”

    • Nukenado

      I actually don’t hate the vocalist. She sounds like she could push out some serious power.
      Too bad the writing is awful.

  • Christopher

    I actually kinda dig the embedded track.

    Have mercy.

  • Thais Munk

    I don’t like the music, but her vocals ain’t half bad for country.

  • You wot m8?

    The first paragraph alone is the best thing I’ve read all week…

  • Bryan Stroup

    Country + Metal isn’t new.
    See: Volbeat.

    This music actually wouldn’t be that bad in something like a Saints Row game though.

  • I really don’t hate this. After reading the review, I wanted to hate it, but I actually couldn’t. Maybe I felt a little bad as a musician who has received scathing reviews in the past, maybe I was oddly intrigued by the unicorn, or maybe this really isn’t the worst music ever made. I’m leaning towards the latter.

    Would I buy this album? No. Would I play a show with these folks and enjoy a beer with them afterward? Probably.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    The girl is hot

  • Not sure what to make of this mess. The vocals don’t fit the music even one tiny bit and it’s all a bit too scattershot. Something passable could have been salvaged out of this, but as it is, this is migraine music.

  • Óðinn

    !?

  • Bryan Barkman

    I keep coming back to this album on my Spotify, going to wind up buying this, probably.
    It’s not that its great, but I find it interesting and amusing. Helps that I’m a sucker for fiddles and female vocals.