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Look Who Grew a Pair! - 95%

MutantClannfear, September 3rd, 2010

Job For A Cowboy. The name itself is almost unanimously considered a turd on the lawn to most metalheads. I have never truly understood the throngs and hell that follow this band like the goddamn plague. Although I don't really have a problem with Doom, being a pretty big deathcore fan myself (yes, I said it. Now stone me), I can see where people were getting pissed, as not everyone is that tolerant of tomorrow's bacon vocalizing amongst breakdown after breakdown in one's music. Genesis was admittedly a bit repetitive, so once again, the hate is understandable; after all, let's admit it: as metalheads, we naturally pick the flaws out of everything we hear and see. We're just pricks like that. Here, however, there's overall improvement on basically every single front. Let's start with the overall sound here. It's a lot more groove-oriented; less outright death metal and more like a technical Lamb of God on steroids. (Another thing that quite reminds me of Lamb of God: the vocals. More on that later.) The riffs and solos are mostly comparable to melo-death, with their complexity but overall melody. There's much more focus on rhythm, and less on simply trying to make riffs upon riffs. Job for a Cowboy still seem to forget about a general path of direction at points, but generally speaking this album is much more structured. If I remember correctly, there are...um...three songs with choruses. That may sound weak, but that's a lot compared to the single song that had a chorus on Genesis, "Martyrdom Unsealed". Also, I believe all but a couple songs have main riffs. So yes, perspectively, there is a lot more structure here. If you were turned off by the seemingly random direction JFAC's music has taken for their last two releases, you'll find refuge here. Now let's get down to the nitty-gritty - the actual instruments themselves.

First, we'll get to the most noticeable change - Jonny Davy. He probably now wields the most unique voice I have yet to hear in metal. (Except for maybe Whourkr, but their vocalist uses something that's hard-pressed to be called a "voice".) His lows: imagine, let's say George Fisher (since he's basically the epitome of a mediocre vocalist in my book). Put a slight gurgly effect on it, and tack on a tapered half-Southern, half-British accent. Right now in my review is probably the part you scratch your head saying "what the fucking hell..." Well, it's weird, but the result is good. It fits the music quite well; probably as well as it could given the instruments' current sound. Now, I don't take off points for putting effects on the vocals: as long as it sounds good, it gets a good score. Period, the end. If this was a live album, though, and Jonny's voice sounds like it does now live, this score would go down from a 90 to a 60, most definitely. The highs are what gives this album its unique identity. They're...they're actually quite hard to explain. Imagine a toddler talking in a really high voice. That's what it sounds like. Once again, it sounds stupid but in execution it works quite well with the music. I might add Jonny's "screams" are not altered in any way whatsoever; they're 100% pure. Jonny performs flawless transitions; he can switch between the two styles with the snap of a finger. But that's not to say that the vocals don't have their fails in places; take for example "Lords Of Chaos" at 1:40, when Jonny says "Built upon capital and greed", and he sounds like a frog getting squished by a moving car; or the beginning lines of "March to Global Enslavement", when Jonny sounds like he's being drowned in painkillers and booze. Regardless of these little slip-ups (which are bound to happen given the experimentation in the vocal style), the overall verdict is positive.

The guitars. This is the first thing you will notice upon the beginning of the very first song: The guitarists have finally picked up their game and challenged themselves. The guitars have the technicality to fill in for Necrophagist should Muhammed break his fingers or something. There is no bit of tension that's not exerted here. They are the main thing keeping this new momentous sound going. Jonny sings, the bass is usually nowhere important, and the drums fall into the background, but the guitars are running this show. The guitars are really varied; although they riff as fast as hell in songs like "Unfurling a Darkened Gospel" and "Psychological Immorality", the band is still capable of making slow "death metal ballads", as I call them. "Ruination" is quite melodic while not losing any essence of brutality. And even then, they still have moments that focus mainly on groove and rhythm; take for example the entire song "Summon The Hounds", my personal favorite "Constitutional Masturbation", and the later half of "Lords Of Chaos." The solos, though seldom-used, are quite well-performed, mostly focusing on groove (as all guitar solos should), like the one on the first track. However, my favorite solo on the whole album is in the back half of "March to Global Enslavement". It's extremely beautiful, but it doesn't digress from the slow, doomish tone of the song. Kudos for the solo, JFAC. And the bass...well, the bass is really hard to hear (had to amplify the bass on my speakers to hear it at all), but a quick listen reveals it's not actually doing anything important, just following wherever the rhythm guitar goes. Onto the drums. The drummer, for someone who used to chug along at "br00tal" speeds, is a god. (Please take my words with a grain of salt; I am in no way suggesting that this guy is anywhere near the men behind Meshuggah, Nile, or Behemoth's inhuman blasters.) He's quite the talented man, making quite good fills and creative beats while not sacrificing speed or accuracy, as is evidenced on the title track and "Unfurling a Darkened Gospel", respectively. He also incorporates "typical atypical" moments, like adding a cymbal crash two beats into the measure in "Lords of Chaos", and other quirks that are hard to notice, but when they are, they're appreciated.

One more topic: the lyrics. Job for a Cowboy are often associated with the still-deathcore band Whitechapel. However, if there's one place they're in no way alike, it's lyrically. While Whitechapel chant on and on about literally nothing, Job for a Cowboy at least tried to make a fictional concept for their album: an extreme case of political corruption and dictatorship. It's not great, but it gives you a theme to rest your mind on. Also unlike Whitechapel, Job for a Cowboy are quite poetic with their words, instead of being blatant to the point of where it's just terribly stupid. Compare "This is exile, we are the walking scum" to "striking their iron hammers to fuck over the breathing bodies slaving to conform to a lie" and you'll see what I mean.

Overall, this is a great album. If you're a deathcore or a groove metal fan looking to make a transition to full-out death metal, this is your best option. However, this album by itself is great material; although it gets a bit redundant and boring in the back end of the album, it's still a memorable, worthwhile purchase. The essential songs to hear are "Constitutional Masturbation", "Summon the Hounds", "Unfurling a Darkened Gospel", and "Regurgitated Disinformation". So yes, children: when your parents ask, you can tell them Job for a Cowboy, recipient of the most tomatoes in the metal world, have earned their balls.