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It's not every day that a band, particularly a young one just finding its legs, takes a hint from its critics and actively works to change its sound for the better. However, Job For A Cowboy have done just that.
Like many people, I was first exposed to this band thanks to the buzz they generated both through Myspace and with their Doom EP. However, I have to admit, I didn't like their stuff at all when I heard it. And yes, my complaints were the same as those of many others who have already discussed this band: the pig squeal vocals didn't take long at all to get on my nerves, and I really felt that the instrumental aspects of the music were just all over the place and lacked any real co-ordination between them. I was about ready to write these guys off as another act heading straight down the highway to obscurity.
Then I saw the video for Embedded.
Immediately I noticed a change in the band's sound, and not an unpleasant one at that. Not only were the breakdowns and pig squeals completely removed, but the band had developed an incredibly tight and co-ordinated sound reminiscent of bands like Dying Fetus. I then decided it was time to give this album a chance. And I was not disappointed.
The entire album is a work of pure, well-structured death metal. Vocalist Johnny Davy covers an impressive range of harsh vocals, moving between the usual low, guttural growls and several high-pitched screams with ease, while guitarists Ravi Bhadriraju and Bobby Thompson chug along with powerful, driving riffs. Extra accolades go out to drummer Jon Rice, who, while using the usual combinations of fast snare hits and constant double-bass, manages to mix these patterns up often and fast enough that the drumming consistently stays interesting. And crisp, clear production on the entire album allows all of these elements to shine through.
That being said, there are a few problems with this album. For starters, with only 10 songs, 2 of which are intros into the next ones, and most of the songs clocking in at under 3 minutes, I personally felt that the album could have used a bit more material. Also, as several reviewers have already stated, the album lacks variety, as most of the songs sound very much alike. And finally, while this doesn't bother me all that much, the band shares a very similar sound with the rest of the current crop of American death metal bands, which will make it very difficult for them to make a name for themselves as they continue on.
Do I think Job For A Cowboy are the next big thing in metal? I'm still undecided on that one. Though if they can continue to refine their sound and maybe start mixing it up here or there on future albums, I have no doubt that these guys can go far. But for now, they've produced a solid album that, while not being very unique, is hard-hitting and great for banging your head to.