Review Summary: A new sun is rising.
Job For A Cowboy are not the same band they were in 2005. The Arizona death metal outfit’s opening punch into the scene with the Doom
EP made a veritable splash in extreme music, for better or worse. Being one of the biggest names in the emerging deathcore scene made them a household name, but after that the splashes caused by each consecutive release seemed to be smaller and smaller, made more noticeable by the small pond they originated in becoming something more akin to a rather expansive ocean of talent. Genesis
kept kids interested for the most part, but the shedding of deathcore traits in favor of technical death metal features overtime picked and prodded at the band’s popularity level. The later Gloom
EP and Demonocracy
LP took this to extremes and, combined with some lineup changes, the band seemed to fall out of the spotlight. 2014 brings Job For A Cowboy’s fourth record, Sun Eater
, and that steady streak of decline that the band has been practicing for almost a decade now has finally and substantially dissipated.
Opening track “Eating The Visions Of God” utterly shatters all expectations one might have had for Sun Eater
. In many ways it is the most alien thing ever done by JFAC, but an ardent listener could point out the seeds first laid by the closing track of 2012’s Demonocracy
, “Tarnished Gluttony”. The song is slower than the band’s norm, yet the guitar riffs and drums are still dark and abrasive enough that none of the band’s extreme tendencies are lost. There is a distinct sense that the band is flirting with doom metal to a degree, something only hinted at in the past. The result is a doomy, apocalyptic, and extreme piece of metal that kicks off the album with a bang.
Job For A Cowboy have always been a pretty technically gifted band, especially by deathcore standards, but where that used to work to their detriment, resulting in unmemorable songs, here they have managed to rein it in fantastically. Thrashers like “The Stone Cross” and “A Global Shift” are great examples of JFAC balancing crushing technicality and stronger songwriting. “The Celestial Antidote” might even open with the heaviest moment of the band’s discography to date. Many of the more expansive cuts contain sections so far outside JFAC’s norm that they seem almost progressive in nature. The band has not only learned to write songs more cohesively, but also to write them across longer track lengths. Many of the songs stretch to six minutes or more, but rarely do they feel slow or boring. Sun Eater
runs at a fairly tidy forty seven minutes, although it does seem to drag just a tad near the end. Cutting no more than a handful of minutes likely wouldn’t have hurt too much.
Instrumentally, the band is nothing less than impressive. The guitars are razor sharp and vicious, running through a variety of crushing riffs. The solos are quite common and well executed. The harmonized lick in the intro to “Buried Monuments” is almost akin to melodic death metal, although this is a rare example of utilized melody that isn’t haunting or foreboding in nature. The drum work is extremely varied and fluid. Fills abound and the always necessary blast beats seem inhumanly executed, in a great way. Vocalist Jonny Davy is an absolute monster behind the mic, with some of the most consistently powerful growls and impossibly high screams found in the genre. His delivery is rather frantic, yet flows with the music with perfect ease. The only downfall of his performance is that he might be one of the most unintelligible vocalists I’ve ever heard. Without a lyric sheet before me, I’ll never be able to pick up any of his lines. Without a doubt, the most standout member of the band is bassist, Nick Schendzielos. In an era of modern metal where the bass is often lost in the frequencies, hearing one that is impossible not to hear at all times is so very refreshing. His playing is fluid and keeps up with the guitars perfectly. In a way, it even outshines the guitars, something almost unheard of in this guitar dominated genre.
The biggest downfall of the album, sadly, is that despite the experimentation found here, it still feels a little too samey across the full length. When compared to past record’s tendencies to be completely forgettable, and the general increase in quality songwriting however, the feeling is mostly negated and this record still stands as a triumph. Job For A Cowboy have knocked down the gates holding them back with one massive kick, and with the release of Sun Eater
the band should be on an upward path. It is a new era for Job For A Cowboy and an impossibly bright one at that.