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Inoffensive, meandering death metal. - 41%

hells_unicorn, March 7th, 2010

It is unclear if they’ve come up with a technical name for the disorder that compels a person to keep tabs on bands he hates, but if they have, slap it on my forehead because I’ve got it bad. The chief symptom of it seems to be my unrelenting need to know what is up with the latest debacle guising under the death metal label known as Job For A Cowboy, the band that confutes country bumpkin employment pitches with aggressive music (beyond the stereotypical whiskey drinking and ass kicking attributed to Johnny Cash and other real proponents of heartland musical storytelling). But since a name change isn’t in the cards for these guys, the only remaining hope is that they’ve learned a bit from past mistakes, and it seems that they are, though at an incredibly slow rate.

“Ruination” does take a couple of steps forward from the last full length offering, and further distances itself from the putrid ridiculousness that is deathcore. The riff composition has become a bit more methodical, the vocalizations don’t come off as rambling in an endless sea of randomness, and the drums don’t spend as much time worshiping at the altar of Flo Mounier. But for the most part, this is the same story told by a slightly better narrator, and comes off as being either bland or skittish. It’s either trying to be a poor man’s Cryptopsy or a poorer man’s version of Suffocation, mixed in with a formulaic approach to songwriting that makes Cannibal Corpse sound progressive. At times it is content to be safe and ride off the coat tails of some impressive drumming and, at times, decent riffing, but it often will get confused, especially when resorting to a breakdown section and backing off the blurring flurry of double bass kicks.

There are a couple of only slightly soiled gems to speak of here, but most of these songs basically interchangeable. The album’s lead off song “Unfurling A Darkened Gospel” is a fairly decent Cannibal Corpse emulation mixed with some elements of Behemoth, apart from the bland lead guitar break and the super-modern and dry as hell drum production that detracts from the overall atmosphere. “March To Global Enslavement” has several fairly solid ideas at work, going for something of a developing epic along the lines of early Mortal Decay. Unfortunately, this band’s utter inability to put forth a decent guitar solo hampers them from truly recapturing the spirit of the early 90s brutal and technical bands, not to mention that Jonny Davy’s vocals get a little ridiculous when he tries pulling off those high end shrieks.

One might remark that it is unfair to kick a band while their down, but these guys just never seem to be able to pick themselves up off the floor and dust themselves off, so how else can one make an honest assessment of this. It fits in perfectly with the current mainstream attitude towards metal, which is to take some of the good elements of the bands that originally offended mainstream sensibilities, and water it down to the point of becoming the light beer of what we know and love. If Davy stuck to the guttural death grunts and if one of these guitarists learned how to properly cut loose during a lead break, this could be par for the course, but there would still be throngs of better bands out there to follow.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 7, 2009.