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Worthy of High Praise or Scorn? Neither, Actually - 54%

Crank_It_Up_To_666, April 3rd, 2008

The reputation Job For A Cowboy have managed to garner in record-breaking time is one that many a metalhead has frothed about. Not without reason either – metal is a culture of deeply held beliefs and values, and few of its most passionate participants are likely to take kindly to having the most sacred death metal plundered by scenesters with pigeon shite haircuts labouring under the delusion that a windmill is something you do with your limbs.
Certainly, JFAC’s so-called ilk such as the abysmal Waking The Cadaver and the truly disgraceful Bring Me A Buttplug (see what I did there?) have gone some way to tarnishing any credibility or respect this new surge of bands might have garnered with warriors of true steel. Your humble reviewer has heard these bands, loathes these bands, and was all too ready to believe that Job For A Cowboy, a band lumped into this foul grouping, were no better than the dross surrounding them.

So what a pleasant surprise it was when, during an uncertain listen after recommendations from some of the grimiest, old-school death heads around, this album revealed itself to be a somewhat gratifying experience. Indisputably, this is a million miles from the modern classic it is inexplicably toted as, but nonetheless provides you with something to blast away half an hour with.

‘Genesis’ is a record that avoids the perennial deathcore overreliance on muted E-string chugging and dreaded breakdowns, electing wisely to put greater emphasis on speed and riff work rather than relying solely on guitar tone to create heaviness, as many bands are guilty of. Taking the twisting, writhing rhythms of Dying Fetus, the maniacal pace of Behemoth, and vocal and guitar tricks straight from the books of Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse, Job For A Cowboy’s sound is not one that will tick many boxes in the originality stakes but is certainly a sound put together with enough competence and reverence for its influences as to remain an enjoyable proposition.

As songwriters, Job For A Cowboy are guaranteed to divide opinion. Many will appreciate the streamlining and anteing up their sound has undergone in terms of aggression - it is hard to accurately articulate how much of a merciful relief it is to hear breakdowns become conspicuous by their absence. Several songs even manage to work their way into the brain – opener ‘Bearing The Serpents Lamb’ pulls no punches in it’s all out, Suffocation-style assault, and ‘Embedded’ is a memorable face-melter of a track with a superb hyperspeed riff that makes headbanging irresistible. The lyrics to the album are a true highlight – an intelligently written and surprisingly engaging adaptation of key elements of the Book of Revelations that puts to shame plenty of modern death metal lyricism.
That said, the accusations that ‘Genesis’ can become repetitive are not unfounded. The riffs here do ultimately begin to blend into one after a while, with few memorable moments distinguishing one song from another. The introduction of solos is of little note also – short, unremarkable and decidedly lacking in flair, the ‘solos’ are little more than brief melodic pieces that may as well serve as bridges for all the prominence they have in the songs. As many reviewers have previously argued, the albums short run time seems to serve as a negative factor, leaving you with the feeling that the band have not quite delivered all they are capable of – the fact that two of the songs ‘Upheaval’ and ‘Blasphemy’ are little more than dull segues from one song to another is something of an irritant to the listener.

The band as players, despite many shortcomings, have their strong points. Though, as mentioned, memorable solos are unforthcoming, guitarists Ravi Bhadriraju and Bobby Thompson and bassist Brent Riggs are more than capable on their instruments and have clearly allowed their talents to mature somewhat since the abysmal ‘Doom’ EP. Elliott Seller’s satisfying brutal talent for blast beats and double bass maelstroms is one of the high points on the album, but it is vocalist Jonny Davy who impresses the most, with deathcore pig squeals exorcised from his voice box and replaced with a doubtlessly powerful death metal growl. The modern production work serves them well, slick and streamlined but managing to avoid the over-polished feel that blights many modern heavy records.

‘Genesis’ in more succinct terms, is an extraordinarily overhyped album, but Job For A Cowboy’s vile key fanbase should not discourage faithful metalheads from at least bending an ear to some of the charms this album still has to offer. If a modern classic of death metal is what you seek than it’s perhaps wise to start looking elsewhere, but for a powerful, potent fix of brutal death metal, you could do a lot worse than ‘Genesis.’