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Reviews

Job For A Cowboy: Demonocracy

02/05/12  ||  Sokaris

Maybe it’s not good form to start a review with an “I just don’t get it” rant but I’ve always struggled to see the appeal of Job for a Cowboy. I remember them storming MySpace years ago playing deathcore, a genre I think I’d just started scratching my head at. I’m all for genre cross-pollination and combining metal and hardcore has worked beautifully in the past (thrash, the d-beat influenced death metal bands of Sweden) but I gave all of major names a chance and my reactions ranged from indifference to being completely annoyed. Maybe because it seemed like an “evolution” from the dumbest knuckle-dragging slam bands into something more mainstream and pointed towards a trendier demographic.

Anyway, let’s get this out of the way first: Job for a Cowboy does NOT play deathcore anymore. Though there are still occasional breakdowns of the sort the genre is known for abusing, they’re not the obnoxious “insert mosh here” riffs for the most part. At some point they must’ve held a band meeting, decided to grow their hair out and cut down on the chugga-chugga’s and bree-bree-bree’s. Maybe they were tired of the adults making fun of them, maybe it’s just natural evolution. In any event Job for a Cowboy went on to become a generic and unmemorable death metal band. I can’t say it’s not an improvement but it makes their massive popularity even more baffling as they’ve gone from sounding trendy to just sounding dull. Legions of fans seem to declare each time they release an album “Look, they play DEATH METAL now! There’s no -core, no breakdowns or anything!” like we’re in some kind of brutality drought and there aren’t ten thousand bands that fit that same basic sonic outline.

Setting aside my curmudgeonly bastardness, I sought to give “Demonocracy” a fair chance. If it’s possible for a lame band to transcend the sewers of bad deathcore and become sort of okay, then it’s possible for a sort of okay band to become decent right? Well, maybe Job For A Cowboy has been improving over the years but you can still color me unimpressed. For the most part there’s nothing really bad about this, however. The majority of the vocals are in general sub-par but passable. The higher vocals are just outright terrible though, too much yelp and not enough power. We get some good riffs, the songs move forward, change tempo throughout, cool drum fills, some real talent on display in the solos. But after a song ends it doesn’t really leave me with much. This death metal just seems rooted in dullness without any kind of defining elements, like it’s just going through the motions or ignorant of what makes the genre interesting in the place.

I kept waiting for something unexpected. It could’ve been some extra-brutal groove, something dissonant, maybe a thrashy part, something progressive- anything. There’s some range shown here and there but it all seems way too safe. “The Manipulation stream” is a good example of things almost working. It also doesn’t hurt that this song is heavy on the soloing. There’s a more abstract approach to some of the riffs and a less orthodox transition to the song’s conclusion. If this were the norm you could add about a point and a half to my final score.

The second half of the album seems to be stronger overall. “Fearmonger” is admittedly pretty catchy with a nice natural flow Honestly I think these guys would be a better band if they weren’t trying so hard to gain the favor of crossed-arms, scowl-wearing death metalheads and just tried to be a heavier Lamb of God or Chimaira. I’d rather have mainstream stuff with personality than a band that sounds like it’s trying way too hard and ends up peaking into mediocrity. “Tarnished Gluttony” has its heart in the right place. The band try to end things with a semi-epic, mid-paced song but between the ultra-sterile production, the really out-of-place pinch harmonics and tough-guy growls the atmosphere never quite builds to what I’m sure the band wanted. Once again, the lead guitarist has chops and a good sense of composition for soloing.

So all in all this isn’t a terrible album. It’s definitely not a good album either. If it wasn’t for the vocals (which range from acceptable to annoying) I’d probably put this right in the middle of the point scale. To me it just doesn’t have anything special to it aside from a couple decent ideas that don’t go anywhere and some genuinely good shredding. If I was new to the genre the spectacle of aggressive riffing and semi-linear songwriting might be a big deal but just BEING a death metal band isn’t enough to categorically be good.

4,5

  • Information
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Website: Job For A Cowboy MySpace
  • Band
  • Jonny Davy: vocals
  • Alan Glassman: guitars
  • Tony Sannicandro: guitars
  • Nick Schendzielos: bass
  • Jon “The Charn” Rice: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Children of deceit
  • 02. Nourishment through bloodshed
  • 03. Imperium wolves
  • 04. Tongueless and bound
  • 05. Black discharge
  • 06. The manipulation stream
  • 07. The deity misconception
  • 08. Fearmonger
  • 09. Tarnished Gluttony