After hearing The Showdown's debut album A Chorus of Obliteration a few years back, I was quite excited to hear what the young Tennessee based metal band could whip up next. It wasn't one of my most anticipated releases of the year by any means, but I was still looking forward to it. So when I finally acquired the follow up to their 2004 debut, I was surprised for two reasons. The first? With Temptation Come My Way, The Showdown had completely ditched its metalcore roots in favour of a more southern rock/metal style. But I can dig that, I suppose. Progression is progression, right? Unfortunately, the other shocker is that With Temptation Come My Way, the band falls flat on their collective faces. And that is something I cannot dig.
There are many reasons why Temptation Come My Way will likely be one of 2007's most disappointing albums. Virtually everything that made their first offering so interesting to listen to has been stripped down and removed in favour of a more generic, lifeless sound. And I'm not talking about the infectious dual harmonies which were employed throughout the last release. But they're gone too. No, the problems surrounding the sophomore effort go much deeper. The ever present energy featured in past offerings such as Epic: A Chorus of Obliteration or Hell Can't Stop Us Now is no where to be found. Instead, the band drifts listlessly through virtually every song. The riffs, though fairly meaty and Pantera-esque are weak and do not add another dimension to the music like you'd expect them to. How exciting. Interestingly enough, one of two elements which were carried over from A Chorus of Obliteration (the other being the clean vocals, which I'll touch upon later), were the lack of variety in the songs. Nearly every track sounds the same, lacklustre riff after lacklustre riff, boring hook after boring hook. While some bands manage to reuse their formulas time and time again while keeping the record interesting all the same, The Showdown is not one of these bands. To be quite honest, after three or four tracks the material on Temptation Come My Way is extremely difficult to listen to, and in you'd probably be best in just turning it off.
If there was anything decent about The Showdown's second album, it would be the vocals. Unlike A Chorus of Obliteration, which featured shouts, growls, screams, and other harsh vocal attempts to go along with frontman David Bunton's clean singing, the vocalist limits his techniques to but two styles. The more enjoyable of his two styles is once again the clean singing, which David has managed to improve. Here, Bunton employs a more mid-ranged style, akin to something that could be heard in a rock, or perhaps even alternative rock record. Extremely radio-friendly, it gives the music an uplifting atmosphere which helps balance out the chugging guitars. David's second style is an aggressive shout, perhaps more fitting for the groove influenced southern rock/metal styled music stressed by the rest of the band. At times, such as in the albums title track, Bunton's delivery reminds me of a Black Album-era James Hetfield, but don't worry he doesn't shamelessly rip-off the Metallica frontman, nor is he as cringe worthy.
Along with Annihilator's Metal, Temptation Come My Way has got to be one of the most disappointing albums of the year. But unlike former's latest offering (which should have been fairly predictable when you think about it), this record came right out of left field. Gone are not only the elements which made The Showdown interesting to listen to, but also the band's identity. If The Showdown wants to expand into southern rock/metal, that is acceptable by all means, but if they want to enjoy successes in their career they're going to have to find a way to craft something that isn't listless and dull and hasn't been attempted several times before. Until then The Showdown will likely stagnate in mediocrity for a good while. The ball is in their court, and I feel they still have the potential to produce something good. But only time will tell.
I, Victim (Here's to the Year)