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Over Hyped - 50%

VilliThorne, July 4th, 2012

Job for a Cowboy are a band that, whenever brought up, have been met with some of the most extreme love 'em or hate 'em arguments. Demonocracy both marks the third full-length release since the band originally formed in 2003 and is the second attempt at focusing on a death metal style rather than deathcore. 2009's Ruination tried its best to follow the new style path, but was generally perceived as little more than a mediocre generic death metal album. With this third full-length highly anticipated effort, and all of the buzz that Metal Blade surrounded it with, could it be what audiences have been awaiting?

The album opens up with "Children of Deceit", which has fairly catchy, fast-paced guitars but lacks any other qualities worth mentioning. Right from the start, Jonny Davy chimes in with excruciatingly repugnant vocals that sound as if he has a swollen tongue, not even completing full words in a majority of the lyrical content. It's better to forget about trying to follow along with the lyrics, whether it be by ear or with a booklet in front of you, since when the vocalist goes deep the words sound like nothing more than a series of blown raspberries which will soon result in finding yourself lost.

Sprinkled throughout the material are a series of sweeping, mellifluous and outright skilled guitar solos, but these are few and far between the generic-ism that drips from every corner of Demonocracy. The listener may find their attention span fading as most of the decent content doesn't come in until about five tracks in, save "Tongueless and Bound" and snippets of "Nourishment Through Bloodshed", but even then the glory is short lived.

The true highlights embedded in this content are the drums and bass, but due to production mixing the bass track rarely rises to a decently audible level. When it does, an unholy onslaught of fast and wild bass notes take over and work well alongside the drums consistently changing rhythms and gratifyingly fluid rolls. Few tracks let this shine through, those being "The Manipulation Stream", "The Deity Misconception" "Tongueless and Bound", and "Tarnished Gluttony".

Comprehensively, Demonocracy has minimalistic qualities setting the content apart from death metal and deathcore other than excluding breakdowns. These qualities rarely see light and are a slap-in-the-face effort for those awaiting a serious death metal release from Job for a Cowboy, who seem incapable of transition to this musical style. Even enjoyers of Ruination would be smart to pass this one by.

- Villi Thorne
www.villithorne.blogspot.com

A Complete and Awesome Surprise - 98%

terrorandhubris, June 12th, 2012

Job for a Cowboy appears to be one of those bands that ends up judged purely by its fans. Just like The Black Dahlia Murder, they seem to be constantly accused of being an awful deathcore band. Well, unfortunately in the case of Job for a Cowboy, they once were an awful deathcore band. But the band in question has made a huge effort to disassociate itself with that scene, moving steadily into more vicious, musically challenging grounds. I was extremely tentative about picking up Demonocracy. I had heard last year’s ep, Gloom, and was pretty impressed and decided to give the band a chance, though I didn’t have high expectations. That changed when they released “Nourishment Through Bloodshed” as a single. I was blown away. I had never imagined that a band with such a shaky start could unleash such a defiantly technical sound. After that, I decided that I really wanted this album.

The record kicks off with the visceral “Children of Deceit”. Jonny Davy’s vocals are the immediate focus of the song, but he doesn’t dominate it at all. Quite the opposite, really. Straight from the starting gun, the album is musically driven. I couldn’t quite believe that they’d really broken through into full-on technical death metal. The riffs are challenging and confrontational, but never aimless and are the perfect blend of melodic playing and musical complexity. That was until the solos arrived.

New lead player Tony Sannicandro really showed his chops on last year’s ep, but with this offering he appears to have been unleashed on the listener. There’s not a single song unblessed by his fluid, almost effortless playing. I deliberately seek out bands with great lead players, and Tony appears to be up near the top. His solos are aggressive, melodic, and insanely complex. His highlight of the album has to be the solo on “Tongueless and Bound”, a perfectly executed example of a very dynamic solo. But let us not forget his somewhat speech-impairing sweeping on “The Manipulation Stream”, carrying arpeggios from the lower frets right the way up to his pickups.

Jon Rice, our man behind the skins, practically destroys the kit every few seconds. His performance is a joy to listen to, from the intensive fills to the breakneck blasting. Rhythm guitarist Alan Grassman and bassist Nick Schendzielos have a joyous amount of fun together, striking out hard and aggressive, yet subtly catchy riffs. In fact, our bassist here even throes in a great little bass solo in the second half of the record.

But is it all just flamboyant masturbation? No. The song construction is mature and complex. There’s no repeating pattern throughout the album, and each song holds its own. They even chose to include their own perverse take on a ballad with the album’s closer, “Tarnished Gluttony”. A very different take on things, this relatively slow, but crushingly heavy finale brings the ear-destroying onslaught of technical death metal to a sweet, emotive finish thanks to some very downtrodden riffs and another beautiful solo from Sannicandro.

The actual production is extremely well done. The guitar tone is meaty, the drums are clear and seem to have a huge amount of balls to them, and the bass is very much audible and clear. Very few albums seem to capture this level of production. A lot of bands seem to get lost in making the guitar tone as raw as possible, but I believe that great sound lies in creating a swirling liquid mass of sound. Job for a Cowboy have done just that.

I’m sure a lot of people are already poking this album to pieces, accusing it of being nothing more than musical gloating. But let’s remember, this is technical death metal. This is a genre built on musical gloating. This is a genre that focuses entirely on excessive guitar work and complexity above catchiness. This is a genre that is meant to be technical.

Demonocracy delivers the technical death metal thrills by the truckload. The band is at the top of its form and has created a truly brilliant piece of music that took me completely by surprise. Though I’m sure it’s going to receive an onslaught of hatred from elitists who still dismiss them as a deathcore band, I believe that Job for a Cowboy have cemented themselves as the technical death metal band to watch this decade.

metal-army.com - 90%

RidgeDeadite, May 28th, 2012

Job For a Cowboy has come to be almost a house hold name in the death metal community. Perhaps because their off-beat name attracts a crowd of its own that are curious to hear what they sound. Others like to believe that it’s because of their unstoppable death metal that has established them a plaque on the death metal walk of fame. Ever since their overnight success with the Doom EP, they’ve since been headlining tours, supporting some of the biggest names in metal when not headlining, and released some of the greatest death metal albums of all time, with Demonocracy fated to follow in the footsteps with the other albums.

Ever since the Genesis album, people wanted to hear them make more of the type of grind/death metal they did on Doom EP, which they answered with the Gloom EP. One could guess that it may have leaked into their playing style on their full lengths after checking out Demonocracy. Although you can’t say it’s like the two EP’s, the death metal has definitely gotten more brutal, almost transcending into the grind territory.

Creating recognizable riffs from scratch that stick in your head long after hearing them is near impossible in today’s metal world, but right away they accomplish it with the very first track “Children of Deceit.” After that, they delve into their insane take on death metal that is almost spontaneous in nature. Jonny Davy seems to always get better and better with every release, and this is no exception. Barking out the looming destruction seems to be his specialty, the growls are heavier than ever, the screams are menacing than before, just pure awesome.

It’s damn near impossible for a single instrument to stand out on this album. The drums seem to take the cake in the beginning of “Imperium Wolves,” with The Charn spanning the entire kit within forty seconds while keeping a constant tempo. But Al and Tony just barge in and steal the show by throwing in some black metal-style riffs and speeding along with an impressive trade off solo… and all this takes place before the two minute mark in the song. With two minutes and forty eight seconds to go, the imagination can take you places on where they go from here.

The bass definitely stands out more than ever on “Tongueless and Bound,” by providing some sick lines that you can hear clearly above the rest. Kudos to the producer and mixer for realizing the potential of mixing Nick’s bass lines where it resides. That’s not to say the rest of the instruments aren’t doing their job, as they continue to blow you away with the random and spastic arrangement of the riffs and BPM. This album only places Job For A Cowboy higher on the list of death metal bands that will no doubt make an impact in today’s generation. History was made with this album.

Keep trying, maybe one day you'll get there! - 15%

DomDomMCMG, May 12th, 2012

Ah, the third full length from accidental deathcore pioneers Job For A Cowboy. Forgive me if i'm not terribly excited, but Genesis and Ruination were both mediocre albums with a few shining moments of decent death metal. As for Doom and Gloom, they were just shit.

So, can we expect Job For A Cowboy to really pull their finger out and deliver an album that breathes excellence at long last? The answer, for the 5th time now, is no. Don't get me wrong, they have obvious talent and are clearly trying to escape the abhorrent deathcore tag that's stuck with them even in 2009 when the -core elements were completely abolished. Unfortunately, they seem to be focusing too much on trying to abandon these elements and not enough on actual songwriting.

The band play a style of melodic, yet also quite brutal and technical death metal, akin to the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder, and maybe even Hour of Penance. Now they are two of my favourite bands, so I should like this, right? Wrong. While JFAC are certainly almost as talented as those two bands in terms of ability, they are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum in terms of songwriting. The music here is very forgettable and occasionally just a bit unenjoyable. The guitars consist of a few groovy chug riffs, as well as some faster melodic riffs. There is a lot of technical leads. The solos are well executed and placed quite well within the song structure, but they just don't stick in your head like a good solo should. The bass is fairly prominent but doesn't really do anything to stand out, which is the same story for the drums. Jonny Davy is still performing the same old mix of guttural bellows and snarls and shrieks similar to Trevor Strnad.

At the end of this blur, you can't help but feel underwhelmed by the whole experience. This is the new album from what the metal press (not very often a reliable source, admittedly) is calling the saviours of American death metal? I'll give the band points for trying, but trying isn't worth anything if the end result is 40 minutes of forgettable music. Maybe they'll one day make an album that will genuinely make me go "Wow, these guys have really got their shit together" but it is certainly not going to be this one.

Better than expected. - 70%

Andromeda_Unchained, May 11th, 2012

Hot damn! Since when did Job For a Cowboy stop completely sucking? Shame the name still blows donkey dick, but bloody hell was I surprised when I gave this a listen. I heard these guys years ago and was suitably unimpressed, but the day has come where I can listen to this album and not want to turn it off. Whilst still a slight sterile Job For a Cowboy have put out an album a sight more interesting than some of their wrongly revered technical peers.

These days Job For a Cowboy take their cues from acts such as Behemoth, Hour of Penance and Arsis. There are still some groove type parts to their sound, but they're nothing too inoffensive. In fact this almost adds to their sound, and provides some rather headbangable moments. This is hardly the most amazing release out there, but from a band that used to be pretty shit, in comparison this is awesome. The lead guitar work here is particularly impressive, and the mix is really well done, with the bass guitar firmly brought forth in the mix. As far as sound alone this blows crap like the latest Gorod out of the water... Fuck, did I really just say that?

The riffs are quite well done here, take Obscura at their best, splice in some mid-paced Morbid Angel, and of course some blasting Fleshgod Apocalypse moments and you've got it. "Nourishment Through Bloodshed" sticks out to me as a particularly bad ass cut, certainly reminiscent of Arsis with some thumping riffs and blazing lead guitar work. "Imperium Wolves" also has some cool bass parts in, and some nice half time headbanging moments.

I don't know what it is about this album, but I like it. There are a few niggles, with the vocals being a sore point as the high shrieks are a bit lame, fortunately the low growls are serviceable enough. The album also takes a dip in quality in the latter half and it's not really one I tend to sit all the way through. However the music is fairly happening here, and I'd say technical death metal fans are going to want to check this out, however those with an aversion to modern sounds, and of course the genre can safely give this a firm miss. Not bad!

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Continuing the evolution, a bit - 83%

bassdmon24, April 21st, 2012

If you're a metalhead and don't know Job for a Cowboy, then you're not. This band has been talked of lenghtly in the community, either to be praised or bashed on, the latter being the majority I think. Some people seem to carry a grudge since they changed their style from being a basic deathcore band to a more death metal one. Then you've got the ones who will always see them like crappy deathcore, no matter what they released or will release. I think this band deserves to be treated justly for what they do now, that's all and that's how it should always be.

On Demonocracy, Job for a Cowboy continues the trend they explore since Genesis in 2007, which is a more straight, in-your-face type of death metal. I would also add a more technical death metal approach, without being overly complex. Despite not being extremely original, it makes an interesting and enjoyable mix.

So, for the instruments on this album. Let's start with the guitars, which are handled by Alan Glassman and Tony Saniccandro. Right from the get go on Children of Deceit you know you're in for a deluge of riffs. They know how to keep you interested with a lot of diversity, quickly changing from fast death metal riffs to some technical wizardry, a solo here and there or simply a calmer part, all blending very well together. Speaking about solos, they are well executed and fit the music, which are my criteria when it comes to them. The bass is audible and surprisingly not always following a dull pattern in the background. This guy knows what he's doing, sometimes parting ways with the rythm guitar and creating a new feeling to the music with some well placed notes. The drummer is there and doing his job... that's about all I can say about him. I mean, he's very proficient, no doubt about it, but he rarely deviates from standard death metal patterns.

The vocalist, while not being the best in the genre, is interesting in the fact that his vocals are diversified. He's got some good gutturals which can quickly change into ear tearing shrieks, and he's making good use of these.

Production wise it stays in the same spectrum as a lot of new stuff, having that clean sound some people loathe, but the heaviness of an album compensates in my case. Plus, it's not overly triggered and thus unbearable.

With Demonocracy, Job for a Cowboy doesn't really make a huge step forward compared to their previous album say, but they are able to assemble enough elements and create a rather solid album with them.

Another rampant remonstration - 73%

autothrall, April 11th, 2012

Much has been said about Job for a Cowboy's transition from an admittedly standard deathcore style to a more technical evolution that thrust them squarely into the death metal classification. Some people seem to rue the loss of their youthful moshing simplicity, while others loathe the modern tech death stylings so much to begin with that they're even less likely to accept the band's transformation. Others can't get over how much they hate the name, how the band grew out their hair, how their t-shirts and CDs are available at their local mall, or the brand of sneakers they wear. I tend towards a general rule: if I can head to any local VFW gig on the weekend and hear a half dozen derivative bands with dull and unimaginative chug grooves and overbearing metalcore growls that were more effective in the mid 90s, yet sound EXACTLY like your music, then chances are, you will not interest me. This is the reason I didn't care for the Arizona band's earlier material (in particular the divisive Doom EP).

And this is the very SAME reason that I applaud the band's effort to challenge itself, expand its musical potential and engage in a more strenuous discourse. The path they've taken on the full length albums has been hit or miss. Genesis in 2007 was a welcome surprise, but I found the sophomore Ruination (2009) somewhat less compelling. Sure, the style the band is courting is old hat for fans of technical or brutal death and death/thrash, but I don't see how anyone could listen through this latest, Demonocracy (cheesy title) and not come away at least impressed by the sheer amount of effort placed in its architecture. Riffs, riffs and more riffs seems to be the equation Job for a Cowboy had marked upon their chalkboard, and for about 40 minutes here there is an incessant onslaught of the things, some missing the mark but others driving the point that perhaps they shouldn't be taken so lightly. If Suffocation or Cryptopsy had written this album, with their own respective vocal styles applied, you'd probably never hear the end of it...

Now, I'm not saying I love Demonocracy, or that it's some year end contender, but there are certain qualities that I just can't deny. For one, the album is completely void of the worthless, dry groove sequences that characterize so many artists in this niche. There is always something else happening, whether a lead or another guitar, or something with the drums or vocals that helps keep the music blinding and incendiary. A metric ton of faster paced guitars and blasts are woven through "Children of Deceit", "Nourishment Through Bloodshed", "Black Discharge", and, really, most of the damned album. The guitars are taut, punctual, and more acrobatic than what you'd hear on any of their earlier releases, and the leads in particular seem well plotted to blend frivolous, warped excitement with a more majestic sense of melody. Job for a Cowboy keeps the music so damned busy that the ear is always drawn towards something, whether that's the frenetic performance of the bass and guitars or the rigorous foundation laid out by Jon Rice.

The one area in which they don't really excel musically would be the vocals, but then, they keep these varied up between the louder guttural bark and the higher pitched snarls enough so they don't become monotonous, and they're mixed pretty well against the structure of the music, with a number of effects thrown here or there to complement the brute force. The intro sequences, which often involve samples or simpler guitars that tease into the more complex labyrinth of carnal riffing, are well laid, and though the album as a whole tends towards a speedier element, there is enough dynamic range here to keep the ears perked, especially on the latter half of the track list. Favorites personally would include "The Deity Misconception" which is this relentless beast of a cut which blends dense, destructive rhythms with all manner of technical, clinical chokehold riffs and more muscle than you could pack on a dozen rhinos, "Black Discharge" which thrills with some of the athletic guitars, and "Imperium Wolves" for much the same reason.

The skills here have been sharpened, the lyrics are an average if ambiguous assault on politics, economics, and the media, and the Job for a Four Year Old jock mosh left has thankfully been left behind sitting by the curb. It's undoubtedly a more complex work than either of the previous full-lengths, on par with a lot of the modern West Coast death in terms of its skill level and songwriting, but I think I'd place it just behind Genesis as far as how memorable of an impact the songs had for me. This isn't likely something that I'd find much time for in a month or two, but it's well rounded and entertaining in the meantime, and love 'em or hate 'em, there is no shortage of aspiration. So, in summary: is Demonocracy irrepressibly nostalgic, cavernous and drawn from Autopsy and Incantation worship? No. Is it the stuff of legends? No. Is it surgical, polished, proficient and promoting those similar soulless aesthetics that divide the death metal audience straight down the middle? Most assuredly. Did I just answer whether or not you'd like the record with those last three questions? You bet your ass.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com