Review Summary: Newly inspired and monstrously effective.
Job for a Cowboy has been trying its best to rise out of the deathcore slump it began displaying almost a decade ago. Beginning with the full-length debut album, Genesis
in 2007, the musical direction instead began leaning more toward a straightforward death metal sound. Each release since then has featured more complex songwriting, but failed to pack any real punch or contain many memorable moments, despite the immense talent the instrumentalists keenly displayed. While each album could be considered a minor improvement over the last, it was clear the band’s instrumental prowess and schizophrenic song structures deserved more creative songwriting and inspiration in order to stand out from the rest. Sun Eater
is the culmination of these efforts, thanks to yet another shift in musical style and a clear concept executed with a singular vision in mind. Tempos have been slowed down, songwriting has found direction, and creativity finally has a purpose.
Album opener “Eating The Visions of God” is a monster of a track that annihilates all preconceived notions of the band’s missteps or misguided songwriting tropes. An arpeggiated clean guitar riff builds to a crushing mid-tempo groove over off kilter drumming. Dissonant chords and searing vocals paint the hellish landscape depicted on the album’s cover. More riffs follow which transition to an incredible drum performance and a blistering guitar solo. Clean guitars duel in an extended outro, leading into “Sun of Nihility.” Perhaps the darkest, catchiest, and doomiest song Job For A Cowboy has penned yet, the tempo is kept at a slow groove throughout, and the beautifully dissonant chorus and technical wizardry carry the song forward. Schizophrenic tempo changes and uneven songwriting that plagued earlier releases is nowhere to be found here. For the first time, the songs sound like they are able to breathe, and truly burn themselves into the listener’s brain.
Jason Suecof’s production gives Sun Eater
the apocalyptic and desolate sound it requires, despite the over compression distracting at times. Perhaps the best decision made here was the emphasis on the bass guitar, adding a delicious flavor to the bleak soundscapes with perhaps the best instrumental performance on the album, even being allowed to solo at times. Session drummer Danny Walker keeps up with the at times frantic pace of the album, never settling into one area of the drum kit for more than a few seconds. Frantic blasts are used when needed, though the abundance of slower timed moments allow for percussive creativity and blasting fills. These qualities work especially well in the brooding atmospheres of “The Celestial Antidote” and “Worming Nightfall.”
Never settling into repetitiveness or slacking off at any point, the rhythm section shines the most on Sun Eater
despite the abundance of memorable and impressive leads. Searing guitar melodies and shredding solos are in almost every track, and appear at strange and unexpected times for a freer feel than previous outings. Despite the second half of the album blending in more than the first, songs like "Encircled by Mirrors" and "Buried Monuments" still contain enough memorable melodies and leads to remain interesting and varied. Unpredictability is more balanced with the trademark technical sound, but restrained to allow for more creativity, surprises, and experimentation.
How Job For A Cowboy has changed the least involves the use of Jonny Davy’s trademark vocals. While they have been the subject of frequent criticism, his unique range and versatility has been the source of the much needed variety among their previously repetitive sound. However, they also contributed to the band’s overall inconsistency throughout their albums. His performance on Sun Eater
can best be described as a commendable improvement. His low growls are highlights on “The Stone Cross” and “A Global Shift,” but his high shrieking and roars are still in abundance, adding to the already epic sound. The lyrics paint an apocalyptic vision of dueling gods among a destroyed world, more evidence of a more ambitious and mature evolution for the band. Effective vocals but mostly inaudible lyrics result in the music often contributing the most to their newly inspired vision.
Job for a Cowboy has never sounded as fierce or as hard hitting as they do on Sun Eater
, despite it being their slowest and most atmospheric release yet. The instrumentalists have finally embraced their strengths and honed their instrumental prowess into one of the most unpredictable and ferocious metal albums of the year. They always had it in them, it just took a while for them to find the right sound, and they nailed it perfectly here. Sun Eater
is by far the band’s best achievement yet, and fans, as well as previous detractors will be surprisingly treated to one of the most versatile and incredible metal releases of the year.