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Track Review

Conjuring images of growling dogs and fuming people, this South African post-grunge/alt-metal outfit's name is said to have been taken from a Veruca Salt song about the snarl within. So what's an "angry" metal band doing crooning a "Country Song"? Has the fact that the trio recorded its new album in Nashville somehow slowed the rush toward rage? Have Shaun Morgan, Dale Stewart and John Humphrey traded the profane and angry alienation of 2007's Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces for Conway Twitty odes to pickup trucks, Jack Daniel's and hunting dogs?

Um. No. Addressing exactly those kinds of questions, Morgan told Illinois radio station 105.7 The X Rocks, "It's not a country song, as you can tell. … But we had that verse riff that had been sort of bandied around the band … and it just had a real swampy feel to it. And we were in Nashville working on the song, so for some reason, we gave all the songs ridiculous working titles. … So this song just became 'Country Song' so we would know what we were talking about. … We kind of fell in love with the name. And it's kind of trying to be tongue-in-cheek, and it's also because we were in Nashville, so giving them a little nod."

"Country Song" does sport just a tad of country twang. But what you won't find are any common country clichés or honky-tonk shenanigans. Instead, we get a rock-hard story about a man trying to sort through a toxic romantic entanglement that he's trying to walk away from.

"Well, I can't stand to look at you now," Morgan sings. In fact, he can't even stand to think about the woman who's broken his heart ("Still I can't bear the thought of you now/This complication's leaving me scared"). Apparently, though, she's still trying to make things work ("You keep on thinking you can save me, save me/ … You stay 'cause you think you want me"). He, however, is emphatically done. "I cannot shake the taste of blood in my mouth," he tells her. "Keep your sickness off of me."

He's been so beaten up emotionally that he just wants out—at any cost: "Take what you want, but just leave me alive." Then, one final insult: "I can't stand the taste of your mouth."

The album this song comes from is titled Holding on to Strings Better Left to Fray. And according to Morgan, it alludes to the subject matter on "Country Song." Morgan told The X Rocks that the album's title and theme refer to letting go of negative things. And he admits he'd been "holding on to something that is just kind of better left to move on. … Relationships and ideals, you know, it can be anything, but I just went through a lot of things that I was dealing with that I realized were ultimately not good for me, so why was I clinging to them for dear life? As soon as you let these things go, you can pretty much move on and have a somewhat normal life."

That message can be positive, though its application in "Country Song" is, at best, messy. Clearly the tortured soul we find here is wisely trying to distance himself from someone who's hurt him badly. But even if the lyrics offer some honest catharsis for his hurts, they can hardly be described as helpful.

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