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The Showdown was a band that I had heard when I was first getting into metal. Their music video for the track "Iscariot" on this album convinced me I had found the right branch of metal to start out with (although that is a matter of opinion). The song had some rather harsh yet varied screaming along with some sweet riffs and guitar work to keep one's mind occupied. The dudes all looked stoned and make-up crazy, but man could they make your foot tap.
As thrash usually is, the instrumentals are a big part of it. Most songs include some brutal intros or solos as well as guest vocalists. In the track "From the Mouth of Gath Comes Terror," Josh Scogin of The Chariot chimes in during a cool down to blow your mind with roaring screams from the bowels of Hades. Bruce Fitzhugh of Living Sacrifice joins in during the chorus of "Dagon Undone (The Reckoning)" at about the middle of the album.
While searching my mental vocabulary, I could find no other word to describe a few moments as "epic". Take the beginning of the first track, for example. A simplistic drumming bit sets the tone for the next minute or so, then is joined by dual guitars which change from light melody to harder hitting noise. When I first heard the vocals, I almost cried, "Oh, great, it's power metal". Even before I could finish that thought, screaming insanity blared through the speakers as though it were the voice of God. This album is not power metal, children.
The vocals as mentioned are varied. Singing exists when they choose to slow down on the final track, "Laid To Rest", but the calm is soon cast aside for some scream-preaching. Epic comes to mind. There is the half-yell, half-scream thing similar to Order of the Fly, yet fitting for the album. The screaming consists of highs like that of Escape the Fate, except the ones on A Chorus of Obliteration are good. The deeps are pretty sweet, but something you could also find in many other bands. However, it does impress me how the vocalist can go from lows to highs as rapidly as he does. There is a bit of darting, fast screaming occasionally.
Overall, it's rather cool. There are some parts worthy of playing just to hear something unique and even the average parts are awesome on this album. Although it isn't one for technicality like some older Crimson Armada, it's still fast-paced and brutal. In short, you won't find A Chorus of Obliteration on an emo kid's wishlist. Keep it brutal.
A few years ago I remember a friend telling me about a website called PureVolume, and how it was such a great site for finding new bands. So for the next few weeks I searched out the site for up and coming metal bands, jumping from random profile to random profile. To make a long story short, the site didn't really help at all. In fact, I only remember two of the several dozen bands whom I listened to. Yeah. Those two bands were Norma Jean, whom I just can't get into, and The Showdown. Now for those of you who care, The Showdown is a quintet hailing from Elizabethton, Tennessee. Formed in 2002, they've released two albums to date, and though their latest album is a fairly mediocre collection of southern rock songs, the band was once an interesting metalcore act with a hell of a lot of potential. Enter A Chorus of Obliteration.
Though A Chorus of Obliteration is not a particularly original offering, it did show listeners that The Showdown had all the tools to become a leader in the genre. The music heard throughout the 47 or so minute release is an excellent combination of energy, aggression, melody and brutality, all of which play an important role in the album's music. Heaviness and aggression are particularly stressed throughout tracks such as From the Mouth of Gath Comes Terror and Dagon Undone (The Reckoning), and the band does a decent job at conveying the ferocity of some of their lyrical passages. But what makes A Chorus of Obliteration so much fun to listen to is not the energetic breakdowns which the band slides through or the brutal screams of frontman David Bunton. No, the real story behind the band is the infectious solos, harmonies, and leads pulled off by guitarists Josh Childers and Travis Bailey. The Iron Maiden-esque melodic guitar lines found throughout songs such as A Monument Encased in Ash, Iscariot, or Hell Can't Stop Us Now add an interesting new dimension to the music.
Of course, with this being The Showdown's first record there will be some obvious kinks for the group to work out. A major issue with A Chorus of Obliteration is that it lacks variety. Most of the songs, specifically the middle three songs, From the Mouth of Gath Comes Terror (though this is one of the record's stronger outings), A Proclamation of Evil's Fate, and Dagon Undone, follow a very similar formula to one another, and at times the songs feel as though they are the same song repeated over and over. Another aspect which The Showdown could have worked on was the vocals. Though David Bunton's clean vocals are very well done, his harsh screams can get rather annoying. Especially in a song like From the Mouth of Gath where it is the only vocal style he employs for the song's full runtime, his efforts can get quite hard on the ears as the quality wavers from acceptable to cringe worthy.
Overall though, The Showdown's first offering was a decent debut album. Despite its obvious flaws, the band still managed to craft a handful of interesting, worthwhile songs. Tracks such as A Monument Encased in Ash and Hell Can't Stop Us Now do an excellent job at drawing in listeners and maintaining their interest, as they are chock full of fun song writing, aggressive riffing, and melodic leads. For fans of metalcore, or even just metal in general, A Chorus of Obliteration is definitely recommended as they piece together a vast majority of the elements important to a band of their ilk. It's too bad they ditched this style on Temptation Come My Way, as they definitely had a lot of potential with this sound.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)