Review Summary: A handful stand out moments cannot quite save a run-of-the-mill Death Metal affair.
No matter what your judgement of Job For A Cowboy, there is certainly no denying their impact on the heavy music scene, both in the US and on the Continent. Once poster boys for the deathcore explosion of the mid noughties, the band attempted to shed their roots on debut full length Genesis by opting for a unadulterated death metal approach, aspiring to sit along their idols such as Cannibal Corpse and Deicide in an endeavour to achieve long term integrity and not remain at the forefront of a, for the most part, artistically redundant genre.
Does the fact that post this evolution Job For A Cowboy remain as popular ever display a simple admiration for their talent from death metal fans, or does it only betray the remnants of their status as just a trendy band to be seen as a fan of?
It is my opinion that on sophomore release Ruination, JFAC have shown themselves as a more than capable outfit. There is a marked improvement in musicianship, as the songs rattle along with a new found technical flair. Opener ‘Unfurling A Darkened Gospel’ begins with a neat little drum fill before the guitars hurl themselves through the speakers with a riff that twists and turns with a chaotic abandon before settling into a Decapitated-esque groove. As the first track on the album, it’s a fantastic statement of objective, and defines all that the band can do right, flaunting a capability that comes from a knowledge and understanding of their peers.
From here on, there are a number of highlights. The traditional clamour of ‘Summon The Hounds’ and Jonny Davy’s monstrous vocal work on ‘Butchering The Enlightened’ are executed with a colossal intensity, whilst songs such as ‘Constitutional Masturbation’ and the title track show the benefit of decelerating the delivery and introducing some sluggish, doomy guitar work which is a welcome change of pace.
The problem with Ruination is that these moments are too few and far between. The fact that the album contains some truly impressive instrumental performances (John ‘Charn’ Rice presents some proficient drum work, moving around his kit with skill and intensiveness, and turning in the most remarkable contribution to the disc) unfortunately does not equate to an increased number of stellar songs, and for the most part, the album is a torrent of tightly accomplished, yet instantly forgettable death metal.
It certainly takes courage to abandon the genre that made your name starting out, especially when entering the realm of death metal where it is extremely difficult to convince fans of your conviction and sincerity. But Job For A Cowboy has demonstrated on Ruination how they are qualified and accomplished enough to make decent and significant extreme music, yet they still lack the consistency required to obtain the standard reached by their peers, and to be seen as a noteworthy outfit.