Review Summary: Showbread is still Showbread.
'The Fear of God', Showbread's follow up to their preposterously pretentious double album 'Anorexia/Nervosa', begins with a computerized spoken introductory statement that plays out as follows:
"Showbread presents 'The Fear of God'. Please adjust the volume of your audio system so that this message comes in clearly. [...] Thank you. And may raw rock kill you forever and ever.
Raw rock. When it's critically difficult for your band to be slated into a specific sub-genre, your best option is to create an exclusive-to-you genre of your own, right? That's what Showbread has been doing; campaigning their private moniker - "Raw Rock Kills!
" - on repugnant t-shirts and on the mouths of slobbering fanboys in a desperate attempt to make their music sound original or uncontrived. This method doesn't really work though (if anything, it's a gimmick) and therefore invalidates the hype built up around Showbread.
However, the brilliant introductory combo of 'I'm Lost' and 'Nothing Matters Anymore' on 'The Fear of God' suggests that Showbread are really on to something, starting the album by making good on the promise of both the 'raw' and the 'rock': the trade off between rough, dissonant verses and poppy, Weezer-like choruses functions brilliantly and gives false hope for 'The Fear of God'. Everything that follows these two songs pales in comparison and grows increasingly stale with each successive listen. Recycled southern riffs, tacky synths and tedious clean vocal delivery hampers already hopeless near-dance-rock songs such as 'Out of My Mind' and 'Regret Consumes Me'; songs bent on "having fun" (exercising lazy and immature songwriting) and "being raw" (writing sloppy riffs and calling it 'organic'). Not even Patrick Porter's magnificent bass playing (audible and laudable on every track) can save garishly pop-punk cuts like 'Shepherd, No Sheep' and 'I Think I'm Going to See You' or the faux-artistic, slow-burning title track and closer 'Until We Meet Again'.
The only track that passably lives up the unfortunately disappointing promise of "raw rock" is the aptly titled "Let There Be Raw", a song with a literal rah-rah-rah-hoorah chorus (lyrics: "Raw! Raw! Raw! Raw!
") that explodes over a spiralling synth before bottoming out into a fairly technical and enjoyable pentatonic guitar solo that leads back into to the coda: "Raw! Rock! Raw! Rock!
" (can you feel the gimmick? It's working this time). Guitarists Josh Dies, Mike Jensen and Landon Ginnings don't make full use of their triple-headed assault, but on a handful of songs, at least one
of them showcases their capability to create a tasteful southern/bluesy solo when necessary. However, the fun factor of one or two songs paired with a couple decent solos doesn't make up for the lazy songwriting and poor, lifeless vocal delivery that 'The Fear of God' entails. Marrying poorly executed cliches and raw-rock-strategems, Showbread's latest doesn't further or lessen the band's appeal; their loyal fans will no doubt gobble this up without a second thought -- but for those who listen to music with their heads instead of their t-shirts, 'The Fear of God' is nothing more than average.